Prepare for very nice graphics. And prepare to die.
A Boy And His Blob, beloved NES platformer only some of us on the team have played, has inspired a Wii successor from the makers of the crushingly hard Contra 4. Oh yes, you will struggle. The guy from the company that's publishing the game did — and he's beat a version of the new game already!
What Is It? A Boy And His Blob is the spiritual successor to the the 1989 platformer of the same name. The new game was made by WayForward and sports lovely hand-drawn graphics. The game is classified as a side-scrolling puzzle-platformer. The boy can't fight; he feeds jelly beans to the blob, which makes it transform into a ladder, a rocket ship, a hole in the ground, etc. Enemies are lurking and lots pits full of spikes are one misstep away. The game has the boy and his blob adventuring through 40 main stages, initially set on Earth and then back on the blob's home planet where a despot has taken over. There are also 40 challenge stages.
What We Saw I played one level that was definitely not from early in the game. I took a cue from a sign and turned blob into a rocketship. I had the boy ride him through a maze of earth and trees. But I fumbled and died. I watched a rep from the game's publisher breeze through some opening levels and become flummoxed by later ones. This game gets hard.
How Far Along Is It? The game is set for a fall release, and while it's still being tweaked, I was told that it's now possible to play it through to the end. It's pretty far along.
What Needs Improvement? The Difficulty: There's no reason that a cute game has to be easy. But when a person who has played the game a lot is struggling, that's a sign that the difficulty spikes are too jagged. I saw too many blind jumps, too many really tough leaps for any of us who still have a few strands of hair to be willing to play. As it is, this game could make me bald with frustration. We don't want that.
What Should Stay The Same? The Look: The game is charming, lovely, and all the other adjectives you'd want to apply to a sweet storybook-looking adventure. Blob is adorable, even when he gets red out of anger. Even cuter is when boy hugs blob. It's probably how you looked when you were young and hugged your favourite pillow. That adorable.
The Transformations: The blob turns into some cool stuff. The old hole-in-the-floor trick — slipping a hole-shaped blob under an enemy so that it drops to a cave below — never gets old. Blob as ladder. Bob as parachute. Blob as coconut that acts like a bowling ball. I liked it all.
Final Thoughts I'm worried that this game's difficulty could ruin it for players who would otherwise find it delightful. It's nice enough to play a Wii original that looks this good and has this much personality. It'd be a pity if WayForward and Majesco can't tune down the difficulty some — even if the original was, I'm told, very hard — so that more of us can enjoy it.