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Noby Noby Boy: Mysterious, Bizarre Gaming

Noby Noby Boy: Mysterious, Bizarre Gaming
culture
Dan Gould
  • 17 december 2008

Noby Noby Boy is a fantastically strange new video game for the PS3 by  Katamari Damacy creator Keita Takahashi. Play takes place in a simple cartoon playground world where as the game’s lengthy main character, you simply walk around exploring and stretching your physical structure by eating up objects. It’s part of a new generation of games which are stretching the boundaries of traditional gaming and heading in experimental and artistic directions.

Boing Boing Offworld trys to figure out this strange game:

Just what Noby is is hard to explain, but the fundamentals are simple: you control a Noby “BOY” with both analog sticks: one for the head, one for the tail, flexing, stretching, and eventually tying yourself in knots, in a playground world that’s otherwise devoid of goals. And, as 1UP’s preview points out, a Noby “GIRL”, suspended in the heavens, is similarly stretchy, but only as a progress-bar reflection of the combined total of collective Noby Noby Boy player progress. As everyone plays, in other words, she grows, reaching new interstellar objects, which will in turn unlock new stages for all players (a brilliantly viral mechanic).

Even more interesting is the cryptic keynote address Takahashi made at last year’s GameCity festival which is only now beginning to make sense in light of Noby Noby boy.

BB Offworld explains:

It’s at this point that Takahashi’s seemingly rambling GameCity speech suddenly starts to snap into focus. His divergence into photos on playground design (a long-stated personal goal, and one that, at the time, he had just officially landed a Nottingham contract for) seemed not so much like vacation snaps but a reflection of the game’s “make your own fun” essence. He builds, you play. No time limits, no fetch quests, just experiencing the naive joy of slithering and stretching around a world.

His even wilder photo essay on his Namco team’s recent hobby of collecting stickers from local food products to trade in for cups and bowls featuring Miffy (which he likened to “a multiplayer quest ‘just like Final Fantasy'”) becomes that collective quest where all Noby players are working to unlock new bits of the game together.

And his point following that: another long anecdote about how he hoped to make his noisy downstairs neighbors aware of his presence above not by direct confrontation, but by growing houseplants on his porch so long and ivy-like that they hung into the patio below, again maps to that passively multiplayer aspect. Not playing together (though Noby will likely have local multiplayer aspects), but playing together, as a whole, everyone aware that there are others out there focused on the same goal.

This then, could partially be what the website means when it says, “There is some profound meaning behind this content, but details have to be kept secret,” though by no means would I discount any further surprises and game-changing addenda, even in the coming few days.

BB Offworld: “It’s a stretch: Explaining Katamari creator’s new Noby Noby Boy”

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