Noby Noby Boy is the weirdest game you will ever play. There are no missions, no enemies, and you control a worm whose head moves separately from his rear end. Noby Noby Boy is the latest creation from Keita Takahashi, the founder of Katamari Damacy; otherwise known as “the ball rolling game”. Your objective is simple: eat stuff, and grow really, really big. What in the world is Noby Noby Boy, and is it fun? Hit the jump to solve the mystery!
First off, “Nobi” means stretch, in Japanese. For whatever reason, Namco Bandai changed it to “Noby”, but the title still means “Stretch Stretch Boy”. You can tell from the screenshots posted that Noby Noby Boy is not a visual wonder: the original Katamari wasn’t either. The textures are pretty dull, and the game doesn’t really offer any bright visuals to speak of. In terms of presentation, while the visuals lack, the actual menus, tutorial, and control screen are brilliant. When you first start the game, your friend “Fairy” will teach you the controls. He won’t let you off easy though; he’ll take you through each action at a time, and only give you half the answer.
For instance, he’ll ask you “how do you move Noby Noby Boy? Move the left stick, and the ***** *****. The answer is obviously the right stick, but it makes for a fun tutorial. The controls are pretty basic: Tapping L2 makes your front end jump, and pressing it makes you eat things, and tapping R2 makes you rear end jump, and tapping it makes you…erm….defecate items you’ve consumed. The jumping system is really fun, because constantly pressing it allows you to fly through the air with ease. Thankfully, if you ever get stuck, simply hold the triangle button to reappear in your home location.
As mentioned earlier, your objective is to eat anything and everything, in order to stretch out your Noby Noby Boy. There are no missions, or enemies, just items to consume. There’s everything from plants, animals, humans, fictional creatures, and metal that will soothe your Boy’s hunger pains. As you eat, the items travel down your stretchy body, and if you get full, eventually “expel” themselves. Every map is shaped like a square, and has your “Boy House” placed at the top. If you enter your house, you can randomly generate another map, or quit the game. The maps themselves vary greatly from one another. Once, I got a city filled with people, and half of it was a playground. Another instance, I got a strange forest area populated by tiny elves, and another time, I got a city of people who rode on top of flying Piranha fish! As you move Boy around the map, people will even take a ride on top of you. You can let them have their fun, or eat them; the choice is yours.
Having fun is not limited to just gameplay; all of the menus are interactive, and a treat to visit. You’ll get the opportunity to stretch out amongst the text, smash it up, or just plain eat it! There is an “instruction manual screen”, a “total length status screen”, and a “report screen”. The manual screen is self explanatory, the length screen tells you how much you’ve grown your Boy during the entirety of your playtime, and the report screen allows you to submit your current length to Noby Noby Girl. You see, Noby Noby Girl is too big to fit on plant Earth; she hovers above it. Every meter you grow in the game, you “donate” to her, to expand her length. You can see the total “donated length” from everyone on Earth on this screen. Namco Bandai has promised us that at certain growth points, the Noby Noby Girl will give us extra game content, ensuring that everyone keeps playing this game.
Getting the hang of moving Noby Noby Boy is very easy, but controlling the camera is another issue entirely. One of the main complaints I have with Noby Noby Boy is the camera. First of all, in order to zoom in or out, you have to hold L1 and use the Six-axis controller. I’m all about Six-axis support, but it’s frustrating when you want to get the camera “just right”, but you can’t. Another odd choice is in order to move the camera up or down, you have to push L1 and R1 simultaneously. The reason for the shoddy camera work is because the right analog stick is used to control Boy’s rear end. While that part is understandable, Namco Bandai could have easily made better use of the L1 and R1 buttons for the camera controls.
The music in Noby Noby Boy is very limited. As soon as you boot up the game, not only will you be greeted by “Fairy”, but you’ll also get a neat little Tuba ensemble. When you warp in to the game world, your only song will be a soothing, acoustic tune that sounds like the instrumentals to a classic Beatles track. While this song soothes you in light of the impending chaos Noby Noby Boy is unleashing upon the unsuspecting citizens of his world, it would have been nice to get a few extra simple tracks. The last bonus song is heard when you randomly find what I call “The line tracer” mini-game. If you thought the game was weird, wait until you hear this song. Imagine an Alvin and the Chipmunks Noby Noby Boy mixtape! I bet you’re searching Youtube for it right now, but here it is.
The sound effects are nothing special, as expected. The gobbling sound when you consume your prey is hilarious, as is anything coming from the Noby Noby Girl, or the supporting cast of characters. The game doesn’t offer too much in terms of the sound department, but it’s not a big hit to the game, because it’s mainly meant as a relaxing experience anyways; too much sound would ruin the gameplay.
Moving on……replay value. A question asked by many, and mainly boils down to “is it worth beating it again?” My answer in regards to Noby Noby Boy is “you can’t beat it, so just enjoy it”. The more you stretch, the more fun you have, and the more fun you have, the more you can report to the Noby Noby Girl. If you’re a competitive gamer, you’ll constantly be checking her every day to see where you stand. In fact, even if you’re a casual fan, you still might check it everyday just to see where the entire human race stands. At the moment of this review, every Noby Noby Boy in the world has collected a cumulative total of 21 Million meters. That’s quite a feat!
The brilliant thing about Noby Noby Boy in terms of lastibility is, if you don’t like the level you’re on, just go to the Boy house, and change it! My take on Keita Takahashi’s vision is that you will come back to this game on occasion, and simply relax, and enjoy it. It’s not like Katamari where once you finish all of your missions, the King of the Cosmos has nothing more for you to do. Noby Noby Boy knows no bounds.
Another cool feature is the “picture, video, and messaging” system that Noby Noby Boy implores you to use. You can take snapshots to save on your XMB, and use as wallpaper. You can message your friends, which will show up on their Noby Noby Boy’s body, or you can place a message on your own Boy. Lastly, you can take video captures, and upload them to Youtube, straight from the game. I can see many uses for this involving messages put on your Noby Noby Boy, mainly for the purposes of creating crazy music videos.
Overall, Noby Noby Boy could have used a few upgrades, and some work on the camera system, but for $5, you really can’t complain. Like Flower, it gives us an entertaining way to spend 30 minutes when we’re bored, but it also allows us to binge play for hours if you’re having fun. How you play Noby Noby Boy is really up to you, but make sure you keep contributing to the worldwide Noby Noby Girl; you may wake up one day to new content!
The visuals are what you would expect from Katamari’s creators, but that’s not to say they could look a little better. Despite this, there are a ton of different character models, and the tutorial screen is ingeniously placed.
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Controlling both of Noby Noby Boy’s “parts” is incredibly fun, and fairly easy. Where the gameplay suffers is the awful camera work. There also could have been some maps that were bigger
There isn’t much music in the game besides one tuba ensemble, one acoustic track that sounds like a trippy Beatles song, and one insane track that sounds like Alvin and the Chipmunks shouting “Noby Noby, Noby Noby Boy!” The “gobbling” sounds and the rest of the sound effects are pretty funny, and weird.
The game “is” your replay value. Play it whenever you want, on whatever map you want; no strings attached, and no objectives. You can make, and upload youtube videos in-game, and you’ll be checking the Noby Noby Girl daily just to see how far she is along.
Noby Noby Boy is a gaming experience unlike any other; for once, you are playing it just for the sake of playing a video game. It’s a steal for $5.