Inspired and unique title that charms the socks off you. Sadly no objective or story based game play deters replays
-Brightly coloured and gloriously populated game worlds
-Controlling Boy feels great
-Full of nice little novel touches
-Completely bonkers and makes you smile
-Very short lifespan due to shallow gameplay
-No in game objectives or goals to aim for and achieve
One of the greatest things this generation has been smaller and more condensed games that are available from the PlayStation Store and X-Box Live for a modest price. The type of titles that just wouldn't survive in the physical retail market with a premium price tag. In an age where developers take fewer and fewer chances in pursuit of mass market appeal, download only titles offer game creators the opportunity to try new things without fear of financial suicide, if the game does turn out to be terrible, and more importantly it delivers us, the gamers a fresh and diverse escape.
Noby Noby Boy, no comma's, is the latest game fresh from the mind of Keita Takahasi, creator of the Katamari games, that pits you in control of Boy, no I don't know where 'Noby Noby' in the title comes from either, that looks like a pair of pink footballs glued together with a face and four little feet. It is unconfirmed at this point if the little chap feels genderly challenged or not.
The game world is abstract to say the least. Well, abstract and completely bonkers. There is no pre-selectable levels and all are generated completely from random and then the square planet, complete with drops off the edge of the world, is populated with people, cars, animals and an array of plantation, alphabet letters and fruit. Despite looking very childish it looks magnificent. The plain, yet bright colour palette that gives the game a toddler cartoon look and it oozes charm out of every nook and cranny of your PlayStation.
The images of a parrot and a squirrel that appear in the lower corners of the screen that indicates network connectivity and save progress gives you a cheeky boyish smile.
Not as uncomplicated as games like Flow & Flower, controlling Boy is ridiculously novel and simple. Each analogue stick controls each set of legs. You can only use one stick for movement but it feels sluggish and slows the game down. Even though the game has 4 player offline play now incorporated the most fun that can be found with a friend in this game is two players using the same pad and controlling a set of legs each. Remember the Top Gear episode where James May cut & shuts the two front ends from a Saab and an Alpha Romeo together to make a limo and Richard Hammond jumps into the back seat and takes control of the opposite set of wheels? It is as fun as that and each part of the body has it own jump button for even more… madness.
By walking each part of the body in separate directions you cause Boy to stretch and stretch and stretch for, seemingly, infinity which gives the two pink ping pong balls a long, colourful, stripy torso that looks like a nice version of the terrible knitted jumpers that your grandmother used to make and then force you to wear through emotional blackmail and the promise of sweets. If you need to, you can shrink Boy back to normal by pressing both analogue sticks in together.
The popping sound and the love hearts that rise from the floor as you walk around never fails to put a smile on your face. 'What aisle do you keep male genitalia on miss?'
The concept of the game is somewhat of an enigma. It is ridiculously simple but ridiculously obscure at the same time. There is no challenges or objectives what so ever and the game isn't even story driven at all. There is stuff to do, but you aren't quite so sure as to what the point is as the novelty literally wears off within minutes. You can use your massive stretched body to yourself around the entire map like a cute and cuddly boa constrictor and either eat the worlds denizens or let them get on your back and take them for rides around the map. The only real constructive thing that you can do is after stretching Boy, you can report your body length to the cleverly named Sun, who just so happens to be a Sun, and then that length is added to Girl, Boy's friend who looks just a feminine but is a much, much bigger version. Your length is added to every other player that plays the title whilst connected to the PSN whilst playing and that overall length makes Girl stretch through space to new planets, and new looking levels, at the time of typing we have just reached Jupiter. If the distance from Jupiter and the Sun is real it is a tremendous achievement by the community to get her that far.
The in game manual basically admits that there is nothing to do as it can only suggest reporting your length and eating things.
The biggest gripe that I have with the game is the camera. I think I will risk incurring the wrath of gamers and personal humiliation by saying that it is the worst camera I have ever seen in a video game. It is biblically bad. It swaps between doing whatever the hell it likes to giving you control and the former always seems to give you the most obscure view imaginable. When you take control of the camera into your own hands it's very difficult to find a suitable angle and frustration is added with the dismal control layout that gives one button multiple uses, which seems odd as some buttons on the controller are unassigned and have no use at all.
When you do eventually get the view you want it is completely wasted the second you stretch your character out. So you never lose view of your character when the automatic camera sinks beneath the game world the beautiful game world becomes wire framed and it ruins the look of the game.
I am actually going to insert my first ever emoticon in a review as I feel as though it mirrors my opinion of the camera and matches the feel of the game. Here goes…. :(
Music plays a central role. Again sticking to a childlike feel it is exhilarating to have a game that breaks from the norm with its choice of music. It all sounds kind of funky with a selection of horn instruments, that I assume are trombones and tubas, that sounds like a theme tune to accompany a fat man walking up the street. The drum roll while a map is generating is particularly novel and they even use xylophones! Search for the theme tune online, I defy you to not smile and have a little chuckle at it and to not sing along with it after a minute or so.
A photo mode has been added that takes great looking snaps and there is even a video recorded and an in game option to upload them to YouTube. Why someone would want to upload a video I have no idea, it's not a game where you can show off skills at all. I could upload a video of my Micro Pizza sitting in the microwave for three minutes and generate more plays.
Noby Noby Boy is a title that certainly wouldn't of made it past the concept board stages without the medium of downloadable software titles. It looks great and plants a big smile on your face but having no real purpose the title soon has you reaching for the reset button and offers you little reason to come back and play again. I purchased this title at launch over 18 months ago and have literally spent less than an hour playing it.