It’s been over two decades since the NES original A Boy and His Blob: Trouble on Blobolonia was released to hordes of adoring fans – myself included. Since that time, the classic disappeared off my radar, and I doubt I would have ever thought about it again had it not been for WayForward Technologies.
Their re-imagining was released on the Wii near the end of 2009, and this review has been a long time coming (apologies). Without utilizing any of the Wii’s motion sensor abilities, and forgoing any dialogue or introductory backstory, A Boy and His Blob immediately captures the essence of retro games. But does it succeed in our contemporary world of video games?
In short: absolutely.
This platformer knows exactly what it wants to achieve, and does so with conviction and without a single doubt that it will fail. It is because of this that A Boy and His Blob is able to capture your attention and keep you coming back for more, despite the short nature of each mission.
Played over 40 levels and across four unique worlds, you take control of our young protagonist – an imaginative, yet nameless, little boy – and his newfound friend, a malleable white blob from outer space.
If anyone has ever played the original NES title, you will be happy to discover that feeding Blobert jellybeans is just as exciting as ever, allowing your companion to take on any number of different shapes and objects with the pull of a trigger. While climbing ladders and avoiding pitfalls can be glitchy at times, there are enough opportunities to succeed at a puzzle that you won’t be frustrated for long.
You will die, that’s for certain. But the game gives players enough leeway that there will rarely be a moment of frustration at having to replay the entire mission. “Hardcore” gamers may have a reason to harp on about the lack of difficulty, but this really isn’t the game for them anyway. The brilliant thing about A Boy and His Blob is that it understands its market – children and adults alike can appreciate this title for what it is, and there is no need for ridiculously difficult puzzles or missions.
Wayforward Technologies could have gone down the path that many Wii developers have taken: pump in as many motion controls as possible, forcing the player to flail wildly rather than enjoy the story. The developer was able to recognize that they didn’t have to implement motion controls for the player to enjoy A Boy and His Blob. In fact, I was ecstatic when I realized that I wouldn’t have to worry about overhead fans slicing my hands off from excessive motion control use.
This game allows you to relax, while at the same time also hinting that you should play just one more level. This more-ish element is what is certain to keep players coming back long after they have finished the game. There are enough side-quests that add depth to a game that, on the surface, may seem shallow. The three treasure chests that are placed throughout each level will be a thorn in completionists’ sides, and offer extra content on all four worlds.
While four worlds of ten levels each may not seem like a long game, I guarantee that you will find yourself heading back to pick up all the lost treasure chests – that is, if you can defeat the bosses. A Boy and His Blob manages to fool gamers for a time, lulling us into a false sense of security thinking that the majority of the title is going to be about figuring out which form Blobert should take, rather than how quickly to react to enemies. However, once you begin the final mission on the first world, you will soon realize that there is indeed an element of difficulty thrown in for good measure. I died more than a few times figuring out just how to destroy the first boss, and on each subsequent world I was always imagining ways that I could use Blobert’s new forms to defeat the impending bosses.
Don’t be put off by the “cute factor” involved here. I suppose if you’re familiar with the majority of Wii games, you won’t have a problem with the overabundance of cute in such games, but there is really nothing condescending in nature here. Kids will love it for its simplicity and color, while adults will appreciate the replayability and puzzle aspects.
A Boy and His Blob may not be at the forefront of everyone’s minds, especially with such a big year in AAA titles. However, I implore you to give this little gem a go. There is something so accessible about this game that it’s hard to imagine how anyone won’t be touched by it. There is no pomposity, no attempt to be the greatest game ever made; it’s just a wonderful piece of gaming that will probably be passed over by too many people.
The developer understands the Wii’s limitations and instead goes for an entirely cartoon-esque flavor. The appealing style only adds to the wonderful locales and creatures that you will encounter.
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Apart from a few glitches, the game plays magnificently well, and the sheer number of forms that Blobert can take is mindboggling.
With only a handful of spoken lines from the Boy, the music is entertaining, yet calming. You won’t be muting your television out of frustration.
The forty levels are diverse enough to hold your interest, and short enough so that you won’t get frustrated. Bonus content and art are also on offer for those looking for 100% completion.
Don’t pass this one by. Sitting at less than half the standard price of a 360 or PS3 game, A Boy and His Blob offers more entertainment and replay value than most Wii titles can attest to.