Noby Noby Boy is game created by Keita Takahashi, game director for Katamai Damacy. Bandai Namco published a game with the intention of freedom. It is a game that is the definition of a sandbox game, it doesn’t give you goals or objectives, just an environment to explore and enjoy. The experience is very unlike the majority of video games you are likely to find, which brings to question, how exactly does it affect one’s psyche?
In ordinary terms, any other sandbox game that tried what Noby Noby Boy did, would probably fail. Imagine playing Prototype or Infamous with zero collectables, side quests, or story missions. Gliding and running around the city would be fun for a while, but eventually it would become dull and void of excitement (throwing people off of buildings is only fun for so long).
The reason that problem doesn’t occur in NNB is because of the mechanics. Contrary to Prototype you are playing something very unlike an ordinary charter. Noby Noby Boy is not a person, he is like… CatDog. He has two heads and a body between them, as the player, you control each head with an analogue stick.
“nobynoby means to not be constrained, to be mentally and emotionally liberated.”
Noby Noby Boy is also not limited to ordinary means of movement. This becomes obvious as you play. NNB has the ability to stretch, really really far. He is also not limited to staying on land, yeah, he can fly (glide may be a more appropriate term). Wacky mechanics? You know it! At any time you can hold down the triangle button to send yourself barreling out of your chimney, why? More like why not!
Each map is different, they are randomly generated. Maybe you’ll load up the game to find yourself in between towers of donuts or maybe you’ll end up in frog paradise. Without specific goals inforced by the game as the player, you can make your own goals for the pure reason of fun. Maybe you want to see how many donuts you can fit around your body or see if the frogs want to ride you around and become the main event of a Noby Noby Boy parade.
Where other games may leave you craving for that next upgrade or skill point, Noby Noby Boy leaves you laughing about the ridiculous things you encountered and wondering what world you’d end up in next. Playing NNB requires you to think differently than most games, it doesn’t treat you like a child that needs to finish homework, it treats you like a child that grows from learning about the world as fast or slow as they choose. Do you miss creating your own pace to play at?
This title is so odd that many people won’t know how to feel about it or how to play it. For those with the capacity to see Noby Noby Boy for what it is, a world of creativity and freedom awaits. The secrets that detail this game have the ability to surprise. If you pull the camera back you can see the entirety of the map you were playing on, and then you’ll see that you are in the Earth, keeping going back and you’ll discover the sun (which may surprise you because it may or may not be a cartoon lion). If you consult the sun it records how far you’ve stretched and add it to the cumulative amount stretched by everyone playing NNB. This total amount is then traveled by GIRL who stretches out to the great beyond, reaching new planets to explore along the way. Transition from planetary exploration to space exploration.
Wait, is this a sandbox game that is actually expanding through the universe while I fiddle around with donuts? Yes, the answer is yes. Are you seeing it yet? The charm, confusion, and creativity within Noby Noby Boy that really gets you thinking. Do you feel the thrill of exploration and being your own master? Are you thinking differently yet?
If playing Noby Noby Boy gets you thinking then maker Keita Takahashi has reached his goal. In an interview with Gamasutra he was quoted saying, “I really hoped that people that play the game would think about what’s the inspiration; what is he trying to express?”
Does Noby Noby Boy give you inspiration? “I love to give a lot of inspiration to others.”
Noby Noby Boy allows for play, and play allows for new ways to explore the world. If Keita Takahashi has gotten what he wanted, then playing NNB should make you feel like a child again. How does Noby Noby Boy influence the human psyche? If the intention of the creators means anything, then it should get you thinking and feeling like a kid again.
By Garrett Jutte