From the creator of Katamari Damacy, Keita Takahashi delivers Noby Noby Boy, an experiment in gaming built on rope physics – and not much else. You control BOY, a worm-meets-caterpillar hybrid with four legs and lots of room to grow in between. The left stick controls the head end and the right the rear. In this way, BOY can be stretched to crazy lengths, allowing inhabitants to go for rides, eat more stuff, and generally get himself tangled up.
L2 and R2 cause the respective ends to grab hold of whatever they are on – the ground, a tree, a robot, you get the idea. An additional tap of L2 or R2 will make that end hop, and repeated taps will cause it to float up. L2 also operates BOY’s appetite for animate and inanimate objects alike like fruit, livestock and tiny little santas. Too full? BOY poops it out his bottom and if that doesn’t scream “GOTY” well then at least there are tooting sounds. The controls themselves use very few buttons to do very many things – as all the functions assigned to L2 might indicate. As a result, controls are a has – most often because BOY will jump instead of ingest, even when facing squarely at the intended target.
The control scheme is so involved that I had to make extensive use of the game manual just trying to figure out what to do now that the camera was mysteriously lodged smack in the middle of the level’s wire-frame turf. The camera shifts left and right with the L1 and R1 buttons, while L1 allows you to zoom in and out by tilting the controller. Simultaneously holding L1 and R1 allows you to adjust the camera angle. In this way, controlling the camera and BOY is pretty much a nuisance, particularly when a level is so cluttered with junk you can hardly find yourself. You would think that somewhere in the middle of creating an extensive manual someone would have realized that the control scheme might fall short of “intuitive”.
With all the stretching and wiggling about that goes on your length accumulates to be reported to GIRL. GIRL has plans for interplanetary travel, and the length of BOYs the world over combine to help her reach her goal (so far she’s at the Moon). The interesting thing about length is that shrinking back down does not reduce that cumulative, so there is no pressure to report every time you stretch out or to maintain ridiculous proportions. As GIRL reaches new planets, new levels are unlocked, and if the cumulative efforts of Folding@Home didn’t strike your fancy why not make a giant worm with a face slapped on one end achieve interplanetary travel? Game-play wise, that is pretty much it. Stretch BOY, shrink BOY, feed BOY, poop BOY, report length to GIRL.
If, however, this sort of concept falters with players then I suppose that is it for GIRL – and for the hope of new levels. You travel between the available levels on a planet using the BOY House, which plops down and joins the landscape of a random stage each time you choose to “Move”. Levels, at least based on Moon and Earth, do have planetary themes but are reasonably varied. Earth themed stages have earth-style creatures – horses, kittens, fish, frogs – and humanoid inhabitants, while the Moon featured walking crescent moons and astronauts. Since the levels are random, ending up in a Sahara-style dessert or a grid covered in mushrooms with two guys on tractors is always a surprise, though not always a pleasant one. A grid chock full of falling, spinning tops is just annoying.
Eating is a big part of life with BOY, and allows you to add to the wacky menagerie by combining things in his stomach. That you crap the creatures out with such force that you may never find them again amidst the falling trees, sharks and dinosaurs is a bit of a negative. All these curiosities begin to lose their charm when you realize that the extent of your interaction will be eating them, bowling them over or right off the planet, and giving them a lift. You begin to crave more – or at least that the eating function would work properly – and with the illusion of so much to do it becomes a constant disappointment that this really is it.
BOY’s physics have all other components taking a backseat. Levels are mostly flat, square grids filled with silliness, and the graphics are overly simplified to the point of farce. The game’s audio is fun, with the music toned down so that all the bumps, thuds and jingles of the level take center stage. There are additional tidbits to be explored, like capturing video (Square), or a bizarre and unexplained song and chomp screen (Right on the Left stick + Select), yet for as varied as the levels and these hidden bits and bobs are, the game-play makes it all repetitive.
With no death (though I was severed a couple of times) or failure (though I did fall off the levels) this a true consequence-free environment, and like any drunk friend if you neglect BOY for even a moment he will wander off on his own. There is not any real objective to all the different levels other than showcasing the oddities and maybe having a giggle. For such a free-form title, the Trophies end up being kind of disappointing. In a game as wacky and quirky as Noby Noby Boy a Trophy for completing the tutorial and another for achieving a length of 100m is just…lacking in wack, and quirk.
Noby Noby Boy’s experiential game-play forgoes missions and objectives in favor of controlling a rope dressed up as a worm. Sure it is aimless, frankly quite off-the-wall-zany, and definitely a little repetitive but it also manages to be kind of fun. The title is just weird for the sake of weird, and if that sounds like something that works for you, have at it. After all, a lack of rhyme and reason isn’t going to prevent you from wanting to gobble up all the koala bears in the land.
10: Take 10 inhabitants for a ride
Stretch out as far as you can, then maintain that length until ten animals/people hop on. Just try it on a well-populated level, and it only takes about a minute.
20: Eat 20 inhabitants
Grow to a good – roomy – length, and eat 20 inhabitants by tapping L2 when facing them!
100: Stretch BOY to 100m
Simply stretch BOY til the Trophy comes up. No need to worry about the level size, I stretch him straight off either end and kept on going!
Bye-Bye BOY: Meet up with Bye-Bye Boy
Quit the game using the BOY house.
The BOY House: Rotate the roof of the BOY House
Enter the house and turn the right stick to make the roof rotate.
The Space Squirrel: Find the Space Squirrel
Push the left stick up and hit Start. Go to Report Length to GIRL, and you will receive the Trophy! (Note: The “squirrel” is clearly a chipmunk, what’s up with that?)
Boy Quiz Expert: Complete the BOY Quiz
Start the game, complete the tutorial, Trophy is yours. Can’t miss this one.
765: Report a length of 765m to Girl
Hold right on the left stick and hit Start. This page will show you your unreported length. If it’s over 765, report it to start fresh, otherwise, leave this screen up and get ready to grow.
Stretch out as the level allows, monitoring your unreported length progress. I had to stretch and shrink (Press one of the analog sticks in to shrink) about a dozen or so times.
When you hit 730 or so shrink down. Lock down your right side by holding R2, then tap the left stick to gradually increase your unreported length. Notice that you do not need to pop out into multi-colored stretch to register length. Retain your tiny shape and just tap left so as not to pass 765.
Once you reach 765, hit Start, then up on the left stick and Start to report your length to GIRL!
The Prince: Take the Prince for a ride
Apparently The Prince just randomly spawns in, Some have found him in a level with falling Katamaris – I just went to The Moon and there was a level full of the little guys! Get one of them to hop on and the Trophy is yours.
Unproportional: Keep Boy’s head small and make his butt big
I found the most conflicting information on this one, so here is how I got it: Go to any level with plenty of small objects (like those flower cushions and fruit). Do NOT stretch out. Eat a tiny object and press down L3 as though you want to shrink. You will have to repeat this over a period of about 20 minutes – you will see your back end grow to epic proportions.
Combined Character: Eat only an animal or fruit plus one human
Eat just one human and then eat one animal or one piece of fruit/veg. Tap R2 and out pops a hybrid.
Eat Your Words!: Eat the words NOBY NOBY BOY
Tap Select to go to the manual. Go to the About NOBY NOBY BOY line and position yourself carefully above the N of the first Noby. Tap Triangle, and you will be able to eat the words by pressing L2. Carefully eat the words NOBY NOBY BOY – in order – for the Trophy.