Weird but in a good way
So, how do you review a game that isnīt conventionally, a game? Well, Iīm gonna have a bash, letīs see how we go!
Noby Noby Boy is a project by Keita Takahashi, a game designer made semi-famous by the Katamari Damacy series of games. Takahashi is synonymous with off-the-wall Japanese gaming, creating the types of titles that canīt really be defined by conventional systems (Katamari is kind of a puzzle/platform/racing game, but not really any of these!), and Noby Noby Boy is another new direction for the veteran game designer.
In NNB, you control Boy, a worm type of creature whose front and back halves can be steered independently, and can be stretched and shrunk to any length you choose. Boy exists in randomly created worlds, populated with people, creatures, strange vehicles, items, structures and Boys house. Boy can (within reason) swallow most things in the game, which can be stored in the extended out sections of his body, and sometimes combined to create new items when he “poops” them out the back end. Creatures can also be tempted to ride on Boy, structures can be climbed up and down on, objects can be gripped onto, and Boy can also jump into the air.
The “official” purpose of NNB is to create a long Boy, which you then report to the Sun (please, bear with me!). Your length then gets added to Girl, a representation of all the combined reported lengths worldwide, and Girl stretches through the Solar System, unlocking more “planets” (levels). However, really, NNB has no real purpose, except to travel around interacting with the things within the level, and seeing what you can make/climb/do/see.
Sound pointless? It is, but only in a conventional gaming sense. I feel the purpose is not entirely different to a children’s playground, whereby all different things are there, and you are only limited by your imagination. When I first picked up the game, I dismissed it very quickly as a waste of time. I then kept finding myself drawn to the game, particularly when (for example) I was on the phone, or had 10 minutes to kill, waiting for my friends to come online for some BFBC2.
So, what do I do? I try to thread Boy through a doughnut shaped cloud, I climb the structures, I try to weave Boy through as many different objects as possible. I create a race of penguin-ballerina hybrids, I try to take everyone in town for a ride on my back, I try to eat all of the trees within the area I am in. I hitch a ride on a car, I try to jump up to the Sun, I see how far I can stretch Boy in one go. The point is that, in reality, you are only limited by your imagination, and the world is there for your indulgence.
And that’s the point, in a way: NNB doesn’t really make any sense, and is really really tough to put into words, thereby almost making a review an impossibility. The weird structures and characters are compelling, and the whole idea is bizarre, but it has the same appeal as a childrens playground to a six-year-old: there is no inherent purpose apart from to float about in your own little world, enjoying stuff.
NNB is a bit like a pad that you doodle on whilst on the phone. It doesnīt lend itself to long sessions, and it has no objectives or structure, or even purpose, except just to be. However, I found it has become unbelievably addictive, and I regularly turn to it for a 10 minute break whilst writing a review, or working on something problematic, purely to relax my mind. It really isnīt for everyone, and the score purely reflects the fact that it cannot be defined as a “game”, so I have gone for a dead centre average. The visual aspect is nice, with bright, colourful characters and objects, and the game has a few minimal background chillout-type tunes that plink away whilst you play.
I would say that for the very low price, you really have very little to lose by giving it a go. I cannot really tell you why, but itīs cheery world, with its bizarre inhabitants and bright colours seems to have drawn in far more people than it has rejected, and the length of Girl testifies to its popularity (Girl is currently wrapped around Jupiter!). Give it a go if this sounds appealing, as I really cannot justify my enjoyment by saying anything other than you really do have to have a go to work it out for yourself.
The Bad: Not a game?; not for everyone; it’s weird