Noby Noby Boy bears the unmistakable stamp of its creator, Keita Takahashi. Like his Katamari Damacy games, Noby Noby Boy has a charmingly simple visual style, a whimsically absurd sensibility, and gameplay that has you constantly using both thumbsticks on the Dual Shock controller to do some very unusual things. But the similarities end there. Katamari Damacy was certainly offbeat, but next to Noby Noby Boy, it looks like a downright traditional example of game design. Noby Noby Boy offers up an experience so free of goals or challenges that it ends up feeling like more of a virtual toy than a game, sort of like a really versatile Slinky that comes with its own delightful environments to explore. Whatever Noby Noby Boy is, it's fascinating, relaxing, and genuinely enjoyable.
Noby Noby Boy himself is a cute little caterpillar-like creature with two legs on his front and two legs on his rear. He's a friend to everyone. He leaves little floating hearts in his wake, and people and animals of all kinds love to hop on his back and ride around. You control Boy's front with the left thumbstick, and his rear with the right, and you can wander around the large, floating squares where Boy makes his home, or flap Boy's tiny little legs so that he takes to the sky, soaring past the donut-shaped clouds above. Each map is unique, filled with different sorts of people, animals, and objects, and part of the fun of Noby Noby Boy comes from just seeing what the next randomly generated map will bring. Will it be a world populated with magnifying-glass-wielding chefs, wandering cows, and bananas on wheels, or perhaps a place of big-chinned gendarmes, giant basketballs, and huge spinning tops?
There doesn't seem to be an end to the strange and surprising things that you can encounter in Noby Noby Boy, and each map is dynamic, with plenty of movement and activity by its inhabitants, and new people and things constantly raining down from the sky. You can interact with those people by just wandering around and giving them rides, trying to wrap yourself around them, or, most enjoyably, by eating them, which can produce some astonishing new creations. If you eat a strawberry and a cheerleader and then unceremoniously expel them from your rear, you may get a cheerleader with a smiling strawberry for a head. That may sound crude, but this is one example of how Noby Noby Boy's extremely simple graphics are an asset. The colorful and simplistic visual style makes the whole process of eating and then sending things flying out of your backside cute, funny, and completely inoffensive.
There is one goal in Noby Noby Boy, and that is to stretch Boy as much as possible. To do this, you simply walk his front in one direction and his rear in another. He'll start expanding as bands of color appear along his body. Stretching Boy is fun in and of itself. There's an elasticity to him that makes it tempting to pull him in two opposite directions and then release him, just to see how the two ends fly back toward one another. But all that stretching also serves a larger purpose. Reaching across the galaxy is a massive creature named Girl, and Girl, so the story goes, wants to link all of the creatures on all of the planets in love and friendship. At any time, you can report to Girl the total amount of stretching that your Boy has done, measured in meters, and Girl will stretch this length on her way toward the next world that awaits, deeper in the cosmos. The total stretching of Boys done by all Noby Noby Boy players has already reached well into the hundreds of millions of meters. Five days after the game was made available, Girl reached the moon, which let players choose to play on either Earth or the moon, which features some different creatures and objects as well as lighter gravity. Girl is currently stretching her way to Mars, which will presumably then also become available, bringing with it still more crazy stuff. Being able to see just how long Girl is and realizing that she represents the total of stretching done by all Noby Noby Boy players makes the game feel like a collaborative experience on a very large scale, despite the fact that it's always played individually.
Noby Noby Boy's visuals are unabashedly simple, with lots of bright, uniform colors and surfaces that lack any texture or detail. This actually contributes a great deal to the game's charm, making the surreal sights heartwarming and hypnotic in their strangeness rather than aggressively edgy or off-putting. The music is a perfect accompaniment to the visuals, consisting of a soothing and lovely bit of guitar strumming. It's oddly beautiful to watch giant robots, astronauts, and mushrooms fall lazily through the sky to land on the surface of the moon as the mesmerizing music plays. Should you want to try to capture any of that unusual beauty and share it with others, Noby Noby Boy makes it very easy to shoot movies and upload them directly to a YouTube account, and though the camera can seem a bit unwieldy at first, this is only because of the complete control that you have over it.
Noby Noby Boy has no challenge and no pressure. You can't be good or bad at it; you can't win or lose. The worst thing that can happen is that Boy might get cut in two, but even then all you have to do is eat your other half and in seconds, you're back together again and good as new. There's no sophisticated artificial intelligence here, either--people are constantly falling over, walking up against walls, and behaving in other mindless ways. And yet Noby Noby works, not in spite of all this simplicity, but because of it. Stretching Noby Noby Boy is a good way to unwind, though a few more goals to aim for may have made the experience more rewarding. Still, for a mere five bucks, Noby Noby Boy will give you a captivating and memorable experience that's different every time and is thoroughly unlike anything else you've ever played.