WayForward Technologies and Majesco bring us A Boy and His Blob for the Nintendo Wii, a re-creation of the beloved 1989 NES title, which I incidentally have never played.
I think it bears noting that I never played the original A Boy and His Blob for two reasons. First, the reader understands why I don't comment on how well the game adheres to the original - I have no frame of reference, so I cannot comment. Second, it speaks of the popularity of the NES title that, despite never having played the game, I still understand the premise and basic gameplay mechanics. A blob lands on Earth, seeking help in defeating the evil emperor who have taken over his planet. He meets a boy, and together they discover that feeding the blob different flavours of jelly beans grants it the ability to transforms into shapes that conveniently aid in the platforming adventure they embark upon to defeat the aforementioned evil emperor.
With a basic understanding of the game in hand, I ventured into the delightful world of this new A Boy and His Blob. What did I gain, aside from a killer craving for jelly beans?
Loved Storybook Graphics: The sharp 2D graphics of A Boy and His Blob look as if they were lifted straight out of a children's storybook. The backgrounds are vibrant and colourful (if a bit repetitive at times), which serves as a sharp contrast to the simple style used to render the blob and your enemies. I found myself completely charmed by the game's style.
Here's Your Blob, Go!: If you want to delve into the story behind A Boy and his Blob, read through the game's manual. Once you start playing there are no words; no tutorials; no encyclopedia containing pertinent information. You figure out how to play the game on your own. In other titles this might have been a negative, but A Boy and His Blob plays intuitively enough that you don't need such distractions.
Choose Your Own Jelly Bean: Once you get into the thick of things, A Boy and his Blob affords you a certain amount of freedom in terms of how you progress. While I'm sure there are specific ways of overcoming obstacles that WayForward had in mind, judging from the predetermined set of transformations available to your blob in each level, but there are multiple ways of approaching certain problems that, if successful, leaving you feeling very pleased with yourself.
More To Love: A Boy and His Blob contains 40 levels of gameplay, which is more than enough to keep you blobbing all day long. Then every level contains three treasure chests to collect, which in turn unlock special challenge levels for you to play through. That's 80 levels worth of gameplay, plus the joy of obsessively searching for treasure chests. I'd say that's more than enough.
The Hug Button: The game has a button assigned to giving hugs. Every game should have a game assigned to giving hugs, not just A Boy and his Blob and Army of Two.
Hated Signs, Signs, Everywhere Signs: A Boy and His Blob pretty landscapes are rife with graffiti. Everywhere you go you'll find quaint wooden signs, defaced with symbols letting you know exactly what form your blob should take in order to progress. As you progress through the game they get fewer and farther between, but they still make an appearance now and then, taking away from the most enjoyable aspect of the game - trying to figure out how to progress using the tools given you. An option to turn them off entirely would have been quite welcome.
Pet Pathing: The most frustrating element of A Boy and His Blob for me was waiting for the blob to catch up, which happens quite a lot. In many instances the blob simply comes when you call. In others, it feels like you have to hit the call button over and over again, like an impatient person waiting for the elevator, while the blob slowly made his way back to your side.
Even though I had never played A Boy and His Blob before, I have to admit that I came into this review with some idea of what to expect. The original was such a unique experience, that the re-creation had a lot to live up to no matter who was playing. Now I'm not sure what those of you who played the original game experienced, but I found myself quite pleased with the re-creation as a whole. The sharp and colorful 2D graphics, soothing music, action puzzle-based gameplay, and minimalistic presentation all add up to a gaming experience that can only be described as delightful, and that's not a word that I use lightly. Hell, that's not a word that I use ever. Enjoy it while it lasts; I'm off to stock up on jelly beans.
A Boy and His Blob was developed by WayForward Technologies and published by Majesco for the Wii on October 13th in North America. Retails for $US39.99 USD. A copy of the game was given to us by the publisher for reviewing purposes. Completed the game proper and played through at least half of the bonus challenge levels.
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