Is Noby Noby Boy a game?

Noby Noby Boy is a piece of interactive software that, at it’s best, forces you to question the very definition of what a game is and can be.  At it’s worst, it is software that you immediately regret having spent $5 on and, somewhere in between, makes you wonder if something went terribly wrong during the translation from Japanese to English.


Noby Noby Boy is a game — I think.  You control a stretchy four-legged creature named Noby Boy who can elongate his body and eat anything.  Sometimes people will ride atop you, and sometimes they will run from you.  Sometimes a squirrel with antenna will appear in the corner of the screen to tell you your game has been saved.  There is also a parrot that will fly across the screen, which is very important according to the in-game manual, because if the parrot doesn’t fly, then you can’t play online.  There is also a Noby Girl who is trying to traverse the universe to bring people together.  Her progress is based on how far you can stretch yourself.  If this all sounds very confusing, don’t worry, you are not alone.  I may speak with conviction, but I have no idea what is going on in the world of Noby Noby Boy.

Noby Noby Boy comes to us from the mind of Keita Takahashi, creator of the equally strange game Katamari Damacy.  In Katamari you play as a small space creature who rolls a sticky ball around Earth’s cities and playgrounds collecting items to replace stars which your drunken space-giant father has accidentally destroyed.  Your sticky rolling ball swells and grows as it collects more and more items, which serves as an interesting visual reward for progression through the levels.  Noby Noby Boy does not have any kind of progression reward, or even a true goal.  In defense of the game though, it makes no attempt to hide this.  After learning how to control Noby Boy, the game informs you that there is no end goal or true motivation.  You are only there to experiment.

This is where the problem lies in the “game.”  With no motivation or reward, what is the point of playing?  Takahashi has supplied Sony with something akin to Microsoft Paint for the PlayStation 3: a piece of colorful creative software that you can do interesting things with, but not something you can play.

Takahashi strives to question modern gaming’s cliches, openly dismissing current popular gaming genres.  He is essentially a game designer who does not like games.  Noby Noby Boy is his brave experiment.  It can certainly serve as creative expression for both the player and the designer, but can it be defined as a game?  There is no high score to beat, no narrative to unravel, nor is there any real tangible reward for playing.  It’s just a weird stretchy thing that you can manipulate.  Is it worth $5 to take part in Takahashi’s gaming experiment?  Along with my perception of what exactly Noby Noby Boy is, I must admit that I have no idea.

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Gabe Newell’s facebook account got hacked

It looks like the relationship between Apple and Steam is much different than we all assumed. If Gabe Newell’s clearly protected, and well secured facebook account is any indication of what is going on in the secret Apple/Valve meetings, it looks like Steve Jobs is letting Newell in on some very cool and totally legitimate opportunities to test out new Apple technology.

This is a deal that clearly should not be passed up.

My assumption, which is about as believable as free iPads on the internet, is that Newell agreed to develop Valve’s library of games for the Macintosh platform in one of these secret Apple/Valve meetings. Newell agreed to the development commitment only if he could get a good deal on Apple hardware. Jobs, who makes these sorts of deals in person, carefully whispered to his most trusted advisor, Justin Long, contemplating the precarious decision.  Newell sat across from him, arms crossed with his most trusted advisor, an android version of Gordon Freeman equipped with advance artificial intelligence. As Jobs whispered to Long, Newell whispered to A.I. Freeman, who of course, gave no response. Just a look of confident purpose.

Artist's rendering of a real secret meeting that actually happened.

When Jobs finally came to a decision, he said, “I agree to your terms, but only under the condition that you will tell me what you think of that iPad, and that you do it quickly.” Newell contemplated Jobs’ suggestion, and was about to agree, until he looked over at Freeman’s sullen face. Newell remembered that Valve was about community, and cool stuff for free (unless you’re on Xbox), and Newell said, “Okay Jobs, but I have one condition for you!” Jobs retreated slightly, scared, as Long stepped forward, making eye contact with Freeman. Newell said, “I will make my games play on your computer, and I will review your merchandise in exchange for free hardware, but if you want me to shake that mythical hand of yours and seal this deal, then you must let me offer free iPads in exchange for reviews, to all of my facebook fans!”

Freeman threw his fist into the air, and in all the excitement, accidentally fired his gun right into Justin Long’s chest. Luckily for Long, his commercial contract was quadruple folded in his breast pocket and the bullet was stopped. Unfortunately, the contract was destroyed, and that is why the, “I’m a Mac and I’m a PC,” ads are no longer on TV.

And that is how it all happened. Check out Gabe Newell’s facebook page for a free iPads. Trust him it works.

The Record of Purchasing The Record of Agarest War

My wife and I went game shopping today, which had been a completely foreign concept to me until recently. The idea of entering a game store with the intention of looking around and buying a game based on something other than hardcore internet research, was a strange idea. While working at Gamestop, I never shopped for a game in the traditional sense. I always knew exactly what I wanted, and knew exactly how much I needed to pay for it. If I had not been paid to spend seven to eight hours standing around in the store, I’m sure I never would have spent more time in there than what it took me to wait in line and ask for the game I wanted.

My wife though, she enjoys the shopping process, and it’s the easiest way to visualize all the new releases. She was the one who initiated the trip to Gamestop, as she was finally beginning to treat Final Fantasy XIII as job and not a game. I was hoping she would buy Red Dead Redemption, but purely for selfish reasons. I am currently wrapped up in a Super Mario Galaxy 2 love affair, but I have a strange desire to always have the next game in my queue within my possession. She does not like action games, nor has she ever been interested in open world games. She has never played any of the Grand Theft Autos, but did take a passing interest in the story and character elements of GTA IV. She likes RPG’s almost exclusively, but I thought that if she played Red Dead Redemption, however brief, I could at least see what it looked like while I was traipsing the universe with Mario.

Our current setup, which would allow me to literally see Red Dead while Mario and I explore the cosmos.

So, we were in line, ready to grab a Red Dead, when Ashley saw Record of Agarest War on the back counter. It was an Xbox RPG, and that was all she needed to know. She couldn’t even see the price tag from our vantage point and she said, “I’ll get that.” The clerk snickered. The only thing I knew about this game was all the sexual innuendo associated with it. I told Ashley, “this game comes with a boob mousepad.” Ashley didn’t even make eye contact when she said, “I don’t care, it’s an Xbox RPG. I need something to play.”

The really embarassing to buy with onlookers edition would have been more appropriate.

The clerk went to the back to retrieve the game and a small line appeared behind us. When the clerk reappeared with, The Really Naughty Limited Edition of Ashley’s requested game, she felt it was vitally important to repeatedly point out the suggestive images that adorned the spine of the box. We admitted complete ignorance to the content and plot of the game, but the clerk insisted on pointing out the images to us, and subsequently the folks waiting patiently behind us. The clerk also kept saying that the game had a lot of, “fan service,” something that is apparently crucial for a player who knows nothing about the game. Fan service must have been her code word for pornography. For me, fan service implies that the game has something that would appeal to fans of the series, something Ashley and I clearly were not.

We rang up the game, and I passed on Red Dead, partly becasue $60 is a lot for a game that won’t even get played until Mario had risked life, limb and mustache to retrieve every single last star, but also because the customers behind us could see that we had bought a game with pictures like this adorning the side.

I can't imagine there is any way to explain that top image without at least some awkward stuttering.

And that pretty much explains Ashley’s frothing demand (to quote one of the greatest box quotes ever) for Xbox RPG’s. She will play anything that can be described with the word Xbox and the acronym RPG, no matter how much clothing the female protagonists may or may not be wearing, or as we have learned today, what they have in their mouths. I have also found that perceived quality of these games plays a very small role in the purchase decision as well. Do you know anyone else who has very nearly finished Divinity II?

UPDATE

According to Wikipedia, it turns out the clerk was right. Fan service does sort of mean pornography. I was totally oblivious. Ashley has been playing the game and has not seen any sort of special attention payed towards any of the female characters assets. The game is (as of about five hours in) completely unsexual. The casing was designed purely to embarrass the consumer. Way to go Aksys Games!