A Boy And His Blob PreviewBy Stephen Johnson - Posted Aug 04, 2009
I spent an hour or so playing A Boy And His Blob for the Wii for this preview, and word that springs to mind is "adorable." This is the kind of game the Wii was designed for.
A reboot of the 1989 NES game with the same name, Blob tells the story of a young boy who helps a white outer-space schmoo travel to his home planet. You do this by feeding the Blob jelly-beans that transform him into different useful objects, so if you need to travel up to a high platform, drop a yellow bean, and Blob will transform into a ladder, or a hole in the floor, or a bowling ball, or a rocket, or a bowling ball, etc. etc. The titular Boy is all but helpless without his friend, and the Blob has no direction without the boy's help -- so the two rely on each other to overcome obstacles and fight enemies.
The game features hand-drawn-looking graphics and impressive animation -- the vibe here is cute, but not annoyingly so. It reminds me of the movie E.T., and it's more than just the "boy befriends alien" plot. A Boy and His Blob has the same vibe and emotional center as Spielberg's flick.
A Boy and His Blob has adorableness down pat, so much so that it has a designated button that causes the boy to hug his blob. If you have a functioning human heart, It will make you say "Awwww," I promise. All the G4-ians who stopped by our gaming lab were interested enough to check it out—and as soon as I hit the “hug” button, even the most jaded X-Play producer and Intern smiled. How many video games can you say that about?
Cuteness is all well and good, but how does it play? Pretty well, actually. Unlike the game it’s based on, Wii Boy And His Blob doesn’t seem to require exact placement of beans to get the Blob to do what you want: If you’re in the ballpark, the game seems to generally get the idea.
As for the gameplay, you might expect a game like this to be super-easy, but you'd be wrong. Judging from the first 10 or so levels, it starts off fairly easy, but before long becomes a pretty challenging game. The endless possibilities offered by the combination of things Blob can transform into will tax both your reflexes and your mind -- it's surprisingly hard after awhile. I'm not sure exactly how hard: I didn't have a chance to play through the entire game. Puzzle-platformers are uniquely prone to controller-hurling frustration -- the original Boy And His Blob was frustratingly difficult -- so I think the ultimate success of A Boy and his Blob for the Wii hinges on how dialed-in the difficulty is over its 70 or so levels. By the way: This game does not use the motion-sensing of the Wii-mote at all.
As for the first few levels I played, the game was spot on. The first few screens were tutorials, but they quickly gave way to some simple puzzles and then increasingly complicated challenges. In the span of about an hour of play-time the levels were hard enough to require several tries to get right… which is where one of my main complaints about this title comes in. There are many, many respawn points in A Boy And His Blob, so you don’t have to re-do huge sections of the game, the loading time is often annoying. It wouldn’t be annoying once or twice, mind you, but when you’re failing the same puzzle 10 times in row, the wait time between tries can seem pretty interminable. But that’s a small gripe about an otherwise awesome platformer.
Pro-Tip: Press the hug button a lot. It doesn’t do anything in terms of gameplay, but it will stimulate your adorableness gland and make you happy for a minute, and really, isn’t that the point of video games?
A Boy and His Blob comes out in October for the Nintendo Wii.