A feeble attempt to review Noby Noby Boy (PSN)

I wish I could explain to you what in the world Noby Noby Boy is. But frankly, I think it’s one of those rare, anomalous bits of software that asks the player to re-define his or her own concept of a game.

The YouTube video posted at the beginning of this entry is something I put together. Utilizing the game’s built-in (and brilliant) video function, I was able to record a few minutes of gameplay footage. BOY stretches and twists, shrinks and expands, consumes the world around him and flies through the air. I could have recorded more, and maybe generated a few random environments for BOY to explore, but it wouldn’t add much to the discussion. With Noby Noby Boy, what you see is what you get — even if it doesn’t make a lick of sense.

Weird as it is, here’s the basic premise: You are BOY, and you stretch and stretch out as long as you want. You can upload your stretched lengths to an entity called GIRL, who represents the combined lifetime stretching lengths of each player’s BOY around the world. As GIRL grows longer, she journeys across the universe from Earth out to other planets, which are then unlocked for everyone as levels to play in. As of last week, GIRL grew long enough to reach the Moon, which is much like any other environment except for some new toys and residents to interact with. It’s a clever way to increase the game’s replayability, and a pretty bold experiment in distributed game progression.

There are trophies to collect for a variety of bizarre accomplishments. Rather than make the game into a chore, these trophies are almost all hidden from the outset and will gradually appear to the player as a result of experimentation. It’d be a shame to list them here, because it’d deprive any prospective players of the joy of discovering the quirky emergent gameplay and bizarre humor within this title.

Really, that’s the joy of Noby Noby Boy: it uses its ridiculous aesthetic and freeform game design to give any open-minded players an inexpensive and unabashedly charming toy to play with for weeks to come. The interface is obtuse and nothing short of perplexing (I know the bird indicates your PlayStation Network connection status, but the Space Squirrel’s function is a mystery) and, as with Katamari Damacy, the camera is very difficult to control. But for $4.99, you’re not likely to find a toy as inspired or relaxing.

Fun fact: “nobi-nobi” can be translated from Japanese to mean something like “take a break,” and the singular nobi means “stretch.” Pretty clever, Takahashi.

Recommended for

  • Anyone who’s looking for stress-and-rules-free fun
  • Fans of Katamari Damacy creator Keita Takahashi’s simplistic artwork and quirky game design
  • People who just enjoy stretching things

Avoid it if

  • You’re looking for a game with firm structure and, well, gameplay

We must move forward, not backward! Upward, not forward! And always twirling, twirling towards freedom!