Feeding colorful jellybeans to an amorphous alien pet to make it transform into a multitude of cool items was loads of fun way back in 1989, and WayForward’s resurrection and re-imagination of the NES sleeper hit A Boy and His Blob perfectly captures the clever gameplay that made the original so absorbing. 20 years later, the remake is one of the most endearing games you’ll find on the Wii. It’s lovely to look at, challenging to master, and undeniably heartwarming.
When the citizens of Blobolonia are under siege by an evil force, an intrepid little blob journeys to Earth in hopes of finding a means to save his people. Crash-landing on a wooded mountainside in the dark of night, he’s discovered by a curious young boy. The two become fast friends and immediately embark on an interplanetary quest to help the ailing Blobolonians. This simple but sufficient plot lays down the framework for some seriously enchanting platforming-puzzle adventure.
The unlikely pals must work their way through a cornucopia of expertly hand-drawn 2D levels that require creative use of a special ingredient to complete. Every obstacle they encounter can be overcome with jellybeans and a little brain power. As the titular boy, you have very limited jumping and movement abilities, but feeding your blobby bud different jellybeans transforms him into invaluable items like a ladder, a trampoline, a parachute, and an anvil. There are quite a few different beans in the game, and some of them produce particularly entertaining effects, like a Boy-launching cannon, a ridable rocket and even a clone of the Boy himself.
Delivering the tasty, tool-producing treats is a nicely streamlined process. A simple press of the Z button opens a wheel menu that enables you to pick from the available jellybeans you’re given in each level. Then you can aim where you want to chuck the goodies, and watch blob hop over and do his thing. He’ll follow you around like a puppy most of the time, but you can tell him to stay put or call him to your side if he straggles. Using blob’s shape-shifting abilities to navigate dark caverns, murky swamps, city sewers, and more exotic locations is really what makes the game’s puzzles so enjoyable.
Making your way through the 40 levels found in the game’s four lush and whimsically designed worlds takes a lot of time and patience. Most levels are reasonably short, and they each contain three hidden, collectible chests that unlock special challenge stages – essentially doubling the total number of levels, if you’re willing to hunt down all the chests.
Despite the game’s seemingly easygoing attitude, some of the puzzles can be a little unforgiving, as they require you to string together multiple transformations with perfect timing and accuracy in order to proceed. The frequent checkpoints are helpful, but they don’t quite negate the frustrations you’ll inevitably encounter at some point along the line.
With highly inventive gameplay and outstanding story-book visuals, the updated adventure of A Boy and His Blob is absolutely worth checking out again or for the first time. However, it’s the tender, subtle and often touching relationship between the two characters that’s ultimately so captivating. Whether it’s the boy calling his pal in alternately playful and impatient tones or the blob obediently hopping along, awaiting his next jellybean snack, this tale is as much about friendship as it about adventure. Nothing drives this point home more than the addition of the hug button that serves no other purpose than to make the boy snuggle his blob like a favorite teddy bear. Simply put: you’d have to have a frigid, icy heart to not love this game on some level.
Oct 21, 2009