A Boy and His Blob ReviewBy Stephen Johnson - Posted Oct 20, 2009
A Boy and his Blob is the kind of game the Nintendo Wii was designed for. It features simple-but-beautiful graphics, innovative gameplay and an emotionally compelling story that everyone in the family can enjoy.
- Beautiful, Painterly Graphics
- Intriquing Puzzles
- Emotional Fulfillment
- Maddeningly Difficult Boss Battles
- Sometimes Shoddy Controls
- Uneven Learning Curve
A Boy and his Blob is the kind of game the Nintendo Wii was designed for. It features simple-but-beautiful graphics, innovative gameplay and an emotionally compelling story that everyone in the family can enjoy. It would be close to a perfect game, if not for some inexplicably, maddeningly difficult sections.
A Boy And His NES
A Boy and his Blob is a "reboot" of the 1989 NES game A Boy and His Blob: Trouble on Blobolonia, and it wears its nostalgia on its sleeve. The hand-drawn art style and minimalistic boy-and-his-dog story are reminiscent of classic cartoons and 80s flicks like E.T.; while the 2D platformer gameplay will call to mind the greatness of original Nintendo Entertainment System classics like Super Mario Bros. 3. It might do the NES nostalgia a little too well, actually. Blob brings back some aspects of old-school gaming I'd just as soon stayed buried. Like what, you might ask? Boss battles so difficult they make you want to hurl your controller at the screen, and occasional kludgy controls.
Make Hugs Not War
Blob tells the story of a nameless, adorable boy who helps a white outer-space schmoo travel to his home planet and rescue other Blobs being held captive by someone or something evil. A Boy and His Blob doesn't bog you down with story specifics: it doesn't need to. What's important is the relationship between Boy and Blob.
Boy feeds Blob jelly beans that make him transform him into different useful objects, so if you need to travel up to a high platform, drop a bean, and Blob will transform into a ladder. A different colored bean will turn Blob into a hole in the floor, or a rocket or an anvil, etc.
The boy is weak and vulnerable without the blob – he can’t do much more than jump a little. The blob is useless without the boy as well--he can’t get anywhere without the boy’s guidance and jellybeans. The Blob is easily frightened -- even butterflies make him nervous until he's reassured with a gentle hug. Which brings me to my favorite part of A Boy and His Blob, the designated hug button. Hit up the up arrow on the Wii remote and Boy embraces his pal. It does nothing gameplay wise, but if you have a functioning human heart you will say "awwww" at the animation. There's also a button to chastise blob, but I liked him enough to keep from scolding him too often. Why yell "Bad Blob!" at your best friend?
The gameplay is puzzle as opposed to action-oriented, so you won't be doing much twitch gaming. But the puzzles are, by and large, ingenious and often feature more than one solution. Like the best of the NES platformers it so clearly calls on for inspiration, the most effective Blob puzzles are not so hard that they make you quit, but difficult enough to keep your attention and give you a keen sense of satisfaction upon their completion.
The levels are set up so that you can either go for a straight trip to the end of the level or try to collect the extra hidden chest that open up challenge levels. The hardcore will relish the challenge, where the casual can just complete the basic levels.
(I Don’t) Like a Boss (Fight)
I wish I could say the entire game held up to the standard set by the first 10 or 15 levels. Sadly, A Boy and His Blob falls apart when it comes to boss battles. They are very, very hard. Like, throw-your-controller-across-the-room hard. This level of difficulty may be just the kind of thing a 'core gamer is looking for, but it has no place in a gentle game suitable for 8 year-olds. The game's tough bosses really spend a lot of the good will the bright graphics and emotionally affecting story builds up.
Another issue with Blob: the controls. You spend most of the game controlling Boy, and those controls work really well, but when you must use the blob for conveyance, things go south. Particulary frustrating are the finicky controls of Rocket Blob. I grew to dread the levels that requires a crap-ton of rocket-rides. Bad blob!
I hate to bitch about a game I loved and enjoyed, but Blob's load times are often frustrating, and the learning curve can be pretty uneven. Some of the later levels feature sections that are crazy hard, but only because the controls are so touchy -- there's nothing worse than watching Boy fall to his death 50 times in a row because the damn rocket will. not. go. UP! While generally adequate, the game's spawn points are sometimes too far apart, forcing you to repeat way too much of a few levels.
Boy, Do I Like Blob
If you are the kind of gamer who thinks bloodshed, explosions and bullets are necessary to enjoy a game, Blob isn't the title for you, but if you like a challenging puzzles, beautiful, stylish graphics and a touch of wistfulness in your gaming, you'll find a lot to love in A Boy and his Blob.