Your Weekly Kusoge
Keita Takahashi became something of a darling in the industry after creating Katamari Damacy for PS2, one of last generation's most original and whimsically enjoyable games. So when Noby Noby Boy was announced there was good reason to be excited - except it turned out to be one of the worst examples of The Emperor's New Clothes ever seen in videogames.
The premise is you control the eponymous Noby Noby Boy (a cross between a slug, a dog and some form of mutant Teletubby), in a surreal world resembling The Yellow Submarine during a bad acid trip (which sounds redundant, yet somehow isn't), while attempting to stretch his length in order to impress the character known only as Girl. She looks like an enormous female version of Noby that lives in outer space. After Noby has become suitably elongated, his sausage length is converted into "love" which Girl then eats, increasing her own length in order to reach the moon, Mars and other planets. If this sexual innuendo wasn't bad enough already, in common British slang the word "nob" means "penis", making Noby Noby Boy sound like a diminutive way of saying Penis Boy, which is how I'll refer to the game from now on (Oh no you won't! - ed). Furthermore, stretching Noby too much can result in him snapping in two, allowing you to control his head and derriere independently; the only way to rejoin them is by literally eating your own arse.
Vulgar jokes aside, there's not much else to say. You stretch Noby by tilting the joysticks in opposite directions, wrapping him around bits of scenery that are procedurally placed. You can also eat pretty much anything, as long as you start small and work your way up. None of this matters though since the most efficient way to increase length is to ignore everything and just keep the sticks pressed apart. The gimmick is that every other player around the world also contributes to the growth of Girl, since the game is meant to be played online. It makes it a bit like some kind of global capitalist bukakke session. Viewing the online leaderboard, which charts every player's stretching regime, with Girl now reaching the planet Saturn. Not that it makes a blind bit of difference to what is essentially a nonexistent game.
The problem is there are no goals and absolutely no structure to Noby Noby Boy. In fact there's nothing at all, beyond a slightly uninteresting tech demo which creates a randomly generated landscape, randomly filled with pre-defined objects. It doesn't even have the experimental fun of something like Pocket Physics on Nintendo DS, since physically controlling things is nigh impossible, leaving you to flounder. A quick butcher's at Metacritic shows that it scored reasonably well, with even the harshest critic saying it was worth a go because of its $5 price. Clearly they're all deluded, which leaves me in a quandary, since to criticise the game implies I don't like fun or sandbox gaming. Keita Takahashi has regularly commented on wanting to build children's parks for a living, and this is essentially that. A kid's playground which may entertain infants for a time, but lacking any substance or even a decent physics system which might appeal to those who no longer have an irreconcilable desire to eat paste. You can view the surreal world that's created each time it loads, but there's not too much you can do in it - and there are plenty of other ways to do absolutely nothing while still having a good time.