For more on Noby Noby Boy, you can check out my First Impression article here.
Brace yourself. You’re going to read some words momentarily, and you may get the sensation that you’ve been unknowingly slipped some acid. Don’t worry though. You haven’t been dosed. You’re reading about Noby Noby Boy for the PlayStation Network.
Noby Noby Boy features BOY, a caterpillar-esque creature that lives in the middle of a planet-shaped object which bears more than a slight resemblance to Earth. BOY stretches and can eat a large variety of people, plants, animals, structures, and machine parts so he can stretch even more. After each satisfying stretching session, BOY can visit the planet’s sun–which is actually a lion sitting on top of the planet, peering down into the center–and report how much he has stretched to GIRL. GIRL is like BOY, but galactic-scale. In the real world that you and I live in, each of us control our own BOY, but we all contribute to the stretching of the one perpetual GIRL. GIRL recently reached the Moon, and now is slowly on her way to Mars. If that doesn’t blow your mind, chew on this: once you have played Noby Noby Boy and reported to GIRL, you and I will have cooperated in beautiful harmony towards a common goal and are almost certainly legal best friends forever in some part of the world. Playing Noby Noby Boy is like participating in the Folding@Home project, but with 99% less potential lives saved and 100% more pooping.
Though from the mind of Keita Takahashi, creator of the excellent Katamari Damacy series, Noby Noby Boy should be considered more toy than game. Aside from a clever controls tutorial that greets you the first time you start the game, there is no story to progress or goals to meet. Because of the lack of structure, most people will probably not have the patience to play with Noby Noby Boy for more than an hour at a time (and honestly, that would be . . . stretching it). For five measly dollars though, PS3 owners can experience a wholly-unique sandbox that offers up an entertaining diversion from your normally scheduled video game. At the very least worth, it’s totally worth skipping your girlie latte for a day to buy this thing with the hope that more developers will be encouraged by Noby Noby Boy’s sales to develop their own abstract software and make it available through the various digital game distribution services.
In addition to Noby Noby Boy’s limited value, there’s some problems with the controls and camera system that bummed me out. The camera is cumbersome to operate even after mastering the controls. The SIXAXIS doesn’t always seem to register the pitch that the controller is being held at and the camera always centers on BOY’s mid-section instead of his head, so when you’ve stretched him out to the point that he’s longer than the “world’s” surface, you can no longer consume objects without bunching BOY’s entire body up in a confined area and wrangling the camera into place. If you’re a professional contortionist, this might be a desirable feature. Me, I can’t say I’m a fan.
Also, the YouTube integration is frustratingly inconsistent in its ability to successfully upload your video to YouTube’s servers. In my personal experience, four out of five uploads would fail. While pretty bad, this would not be unforgivably terrible, but you only get one shot at uploading the video to YouTube. While the video will remain accessible on your PS3′s hard drive for as long as you like, there is no way to go back and re-upload them. If you caught some amazing moment and hope to share it with the world, cross your fingers because the chances of people seeing it are slim. Even having the ability to record is perplexing despite the technical issues. The exciting things that would be worth sharing on YouTube are generally unexpected and not easily repeatable. You cannot edit the clips for length to highlight the one cool 20 second thing that happened in your ten minute video, so unless you plan on spamming the feature and putting your poor hard drive to work , you’ll likely end up with a lot of boring footage that you’ll need to go and delete after exiting the game.
Your willingness to create your own fun will ultimately be the determining factor in how much you get out of Noby Noby Boy. If you need your interactive entertainment to serve up objectives and goals to keep you engrossed, you may find this game to be a entirely empty experience. If exploring the limits of a toy’s physics, seeing just how big you can stretch BOY and finding out if he can eat that whole house sounds like a good time, then Noby Noby Boy may be right up your alley.
As mentioned earlier the Yakuza 3 (or Ryu ga Gotoku 3, if you will) demo hit the Japanese PlayStation Store this evening. Although there’s an understandable lack of English, I was able to gleem a little bit of information about the graphics and battle system from my play through.
First of all, while I expect this means absolutely nothing to fans of the series, Yakuza 3 isn’t breaking any grounds with its graphics engine. While probably not the case, my first impression is that the environment and character models have little to no added geometry from the prior game in the series, which was a PS2 exclusive. The textures are definitely higher-resolution and the game looks nice enough, but it’s not quite what you would expect to see from such a high-profile game, certainly below the sophistication of GTA IV, a loosely similar game, at least in its environment’s scope and story’s reliance on cutscenes.
The demo is focused on presenting several fights, a couple of cut-scenes, and allows you to enter one of the social clubs to try your hand at impressing a lady. It seems that the demo is an excerpt from early in the game, but is not the very beginning of the game as one would experience in the retail copy. It’s hard to tell without having any understanding of the story that’s being told, but the beginning of the demo is abrupt, dumping you right into the Kamurocho district featured in Yakuza 2.
The cut-scenes are all in-engine and use high-res character textures, but the geometry of the faces and hair is very reminiscent of the programming tricks used in many PS2 games. The cinematography continues the tradition of the well-done cut-scenes from the previous games, no complaints here.
The fighting engine is carried over essentially untouched from prior games in the series, though there appears to be at least two minor additions. First, the HEAT system now has two stages, blue and pink. I’m not quite sure what additional capabilities you have while in the second, pink stage, but I assume it involves more powerful attacks. Second, the boss fights use a new “Quick Time Event” system for finishing moves that adds an additional element of timing to the usual QTE format that was present in the previous games.
While there’s no current plans for a English release of Yakuza 3, it’s a safe bet that if we are ever so lucky, at the very least, we’ll be getting more of the same great gameplay, and hopefully a decent story to boot. If you’re interested in checking Yakuza 3 out for yourself and don’t have a Japanese PlayStation Network account, you can check out this video for English instructions on setting one up for yourself.
Following last week’s release of Flower, we find Noby Noby Boy hitting the PlayStation Store today courtesy of the creator of the Katamari Damacy series. I’ve spent an hour with game and so far have been entertained by its bizarre premise.
Noby Noby Boy is unlike anything I have ever seen. You control the front and rear ends of a creature, BOY, which has the ability to stretch to incredible lengths and consume (and poop out) objects, animals, and people populating the game’s environment, which is a small patch of rectangular land located inside of the earth. You can change the “map,” which results in a new themed area, for example, a desert, city, or prairie (among others I assume).
The amount that you stretch can be reported to the Sun, which is actually a lion perched on the top of the earth, who then communicates your accomplishments to GIRL, a galactic-scale version of BOY that measures the collective stretching progress of every Noby Noby Boy player around the world. Uh, the real world that you and I live in. Are you still following? GIRL will gradually continue to stretch herself from Earth towards the Moon, and then on to Mars, with other planets likely to follow. This reportedly will take a couple months each to accomplish. Each planetary body will open up new lands and objects for the player to consume and . . . evacuate . . . from themselves.
Upon loading up the game for the first time, the initial 5 minutes are spent in a novel tutorial which tasks you with performing actions in the game to answering simple questions about how the game is controlled. You are then introduced to the game manual which includes details on features such as creating videos of your game play experiences that can be uploaded to YouTube and how to interact with GIRL. Your cursor in the manual is a 2D version of Noby Noby Boy, which can actually fully interact with the letters and images making up the manual, scrambling them up as you move through them, and optionally sucking up and eating things as well. The manual resets itself, so you don’t have to worry about permanently ruining the instructions if you plan to actually use them instead of just playing with them.
It would be unfair to judge this game based on the little time I’ve spent with it, but it seems like something that will make for a great way to relax, and I would not be surprised to find myself frequently coming back to Noby Noby Boy for quite some time into the future. I’ll be exploring the YouTube integration in further detail soon and will continue to share my experiences with the game as they occur.
The 1256 megabyte Yakuza 3 demo has just hit the Japanese PlayStation Store. Amazingly, my download speed is nearly maxing out my connection at a megabyte a second (not bad for an international download), so I should be playing soon. Get to downloading if you have a Japan PSN account of your own . . . I myself will be back with impressions ASAP.
The folks over at eat. sleep. game. introduced a new podcast earlier this week, Rebel FM Game Club, the spiritual successor to the late 1UP FM podcast’s Backlog segment. For the uninitiated, Backlog dedicated 45 minutes or more each week to an in-depth discussion regarding one particular game from years past, and each game’s discussion would generally span over three or four weeks. Rebel FM Game Club –if its first show is any indication– will run about an hour each week and each game’s coverage will span over several weeks as well.
Their first selection is Bethesda Softworks’ Call of Cthulhu, a first-person adventure game that was released for the original Xbox in 2005 and later saw a PC release in 2006. I have not historically been a PC guy and did not own an original Xbox, so I sadly never had any exposure to the title. Because of the high praise being thrown around, I decided to obtain a copy of the game on the PC and follow along.
For those familiar with the game, I’m at a point early in the game in which the protagonist is awoken during the middle of the night by a aggressive group of fisherman. I won’t discount the possibility that I just suck, but I have not been able to get past this point even with a dozen repeated attempts. This particular event takes place in a hotel, and the escape involves moving between rooms through inner-connecting doors, and bolting and pushing bookshelves and other heavy objects in front doors to slow down your attacker’s progress. By the final room though, I repeatedly find myself getting shot dead before I can make it out the window onto the balcony below. The game doesn’t have gamepad support, so I’m using Xpadder to map my SIXAXIS to the mouse and keyboard controls . . . I might need to switch back to an actual mouse and keyboard for this part.
Anyhow, I’ll be sure to write more about my thoughts on the game if/as I progress.
The PlayStation Network is becoming well known for putting some notably nontraditional games into the public’s hands that very likely could never have seen a traditional retail release. The LocoRoco Cocoreccho! “screen-saver” (which is actually a decent game), demo-scene-darling Linger in Shadows, interactive-art-piece Tori-Emaki, sadism-machine PAIN, and the musical-petri-dish-simulator flOw all immediately come to mind. In an attempt to keep this outpouring of innovation streaming along, flOw’s developer, thatgamecompany, has just released their next avant-garde project, the deftly titled, Flower.
Lacking an in-your-face narrative and the absence of tutorials, Flower at first appears to be a supremely casual experience in which you assume control of the wind and guide a flower petal about, making musical sounds and collecting colorful petals by blossoming un-blossomed flowers littered about a stunning field of individually rendered blades of grass. While the relaxing atmosphere and intuitive SIXAXIS controls could easily consume 10 or 15 minutes of your time without ever succumbing to structured game-play, it quickly becomes apparent that many flowers are grouped together and that by blossoming the complete group, other flowers grow or new sections of the level open up for the wind to explore. With two or so hours of investment, you’ll explore six environments that contain some startling variety and themselves convey the message, or “story,” of Flower without ever displaying a single word.
Much effort could be put into dissecting and describing the complete experience Flower provides, but to see or read about it would simply ruin the short experience. If you own a PlayStation 3, scrape together $10.88 (gotta pay the man) and pick Flower up. Not only will you find a graphically exceptional and subtly poetic experience within, but there is just enough challenge and “game” here to whet anyone’s whistle.