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A Boy and His Blob - Wii Review

Game Info
A Boy and His Blob (Wii)

Virtual Console | Majesco Entertainment / WayForward | 1 Player | Out Now
Controller Compatibility: Wii Remote and Nunchuk; Classic Controller; GameCube Controller 
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Review
21st October 2010; By KnucklesSonic8

An unlikely friendship brings two completely different beings together as they set off on a quest across the universe. A Boy and His Blob is full of love, featuring a well-crafted story of teamwork. After giving the NES version a try via the Virtual Console, I was almost put off from giving this a try. But I was hopeful that the remake would be a lot better conceived, especially since it seemed to contain less of what made the original game so repulsive. So can I now recommend this game to others? Well yes, but I must admit that my recommendation isn't as whole-hearted as I had hoped it would be.

    Every time you boot up the game and start your save file, the main character will strap on his backpack as if he were getting ready to walk to the nearby schoolyard. No, he'll be ready to start a new day and go on an adventure with Blob, his energetic, shape-shifting friend. Not more than an hour's play and the gameplay will reel you in, pushing you to press forward to see what happens next. 

    You control a cute little brown-haired boy by using either the Wii Remote and Nunchuk combo, or the Classic Controller. Under the default control scheme, you use the Nunchuk's analog stick to get him walking about, and pressing the A Button to get him to jump. Moving the Control Stick upwards will allow you to enter doors and glittery passages. The D-Pad is used for simple functions such as re-centering and advancing the camera, or interacting with your alien friend. Hearing the little boy yell "Calm down!" or "Quit it!" helps solidify the relationship the two have, and it's something you can well relate to even in real life with a beloved pet. While not adopting an NES-style system of play, the game still carries a pick-up-and-play feel that should be rather appealing to many.

    A Boy and His Blob is, at its core, a puzzle-platformer. With this in mind, the developers have crafted a whole slew of challenges that make use of a central gimmick that you might not necessarily expect. Players need to utilize coloured jellybeans to produce various effects that will grant you the ability to move beyond whatever hurdle is set before you. It's unique and rather adorable when you think about it.

    The jellybeans each correspond to a different transformation that Blob will undergo once they've been consumed. Your shape-shifting pal can double as a parachute, a jack, or even a bouncy ball - whatever you need to get past a certain point. Part of the game involves experimenting with different combinations to arrive at a solution that will get you from Point A to Point B. And thankfully, it's very clear-cut as to what each of the jellybeans do. When you hold down the C Button, a menu will pop up that will show you what effect will transpire as its highlighted with the Nunchuk.

    Interestingly enough, you don't need to go out and search for these magical beans, as they're all at your disposal. Which ones you're given depends on the stage you select. Once you've selected an active jellybean, you can hold the B Button to initiate a sequence that will show your character ready to throw the jellybean to the spot shown on-screen. You can adjust the angle of trajectory by moving the Nunchuk, but once you've finalized on how far to throw it, let go and watch as Blob chases after it. Nothing is set in stone, however: you can press the Z Button to cancel the transformation, forcing him to return to normal.

    Seeing each of these special effects take place for the first time are kind of fun to see, but some are more thrilling than others. For example, seeing Blob turn into a Rocket to travel to his home world, Blobolonia, you'll pass by stars, galaxies and other space-bound elements. Naturally, power-ups such as these lose their lustre as you use them more and more. 

    The platforming aspect of the game is actually very linear, with little room for experimentation or creativity. There's a good chunk of levels that have some areas that will require a degree of exploration on the part of the player, and to encourage this, there are hidden passageways to discover and secret treasure chests collect. But overall, this isn't the type of game that innovates with highly-impressive platforming elements or clever puzzles. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, though. The original NES title was extremely rooted in the principle of trial and error, but here, there are clear indications on what you need to do and where you need to go. Sure it brings down the amount of brain power you're putting forth to get through the game, but it also takes away from the incredible frustrating aspects of the original. And that is definitely worth writing home about.

    Going through the motions of clearing levels does not feel monotonous at all. In fact, on many occasions, you'll actually feel very compelled to keep playing. As the pair gallivants to dark caverns, grassy lands, and other well-decorated fantasy worlds, you'll encounter enemies in addition to the normal platforming elements. Most of these resemble animals, such as frogs, or bulls, but there are some deformed creatures and burly beasts that will make you want to run crying to your mommy. At the end of each world you'll also come face-to-face with more ferocious enemies in the form of boss fights. They're pretty straight-forward, and with the exception of the last few fights, they're not exactly memorable.

    The entire game tugs on the player with emotional and nostalgic appeal. The visuals are cutesy, the music is fairly moving, and the bond the two characters share is what really brings everything together. Even just seeing the little boy tumble from a significant height is kind of amusing to watch. As you progress through the game, it's very easy to grow attached to these two characters, to the point that you feel a great sense of motivation to complete the game. See without this tie between the player and the game, the whole package would not feel as strong. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that it would otherwise be a pretty average game.

    Further on the matter of presentation, you'll encounter a variety of different settings with each area you visit. From wind, to rain, to sunny skies, each time I observed a new weather pattern, I felt as though another day had passed in their journey. I especially enjoyed the latter-half of the game where I found myself more drawn to what was presented in the various stages I encountered (especially when I spotted the planet Earth up in the night sky). There were times when the execution was a little glitchy, but for the most part, the game is nice to look at.

    Thank goodness for this Wii remake! The developers took the ideas of the original game and fleshed them out into something more playable. A Boy and His Blob is full of charm and appeal, serving as an enticing package for long-time and casual gamers. When I look back on the entire experience, I can say that while I did enjoy myself, it definitely was not one of the finer games I've played for the system. Multiple reasons account for this, including the linear puzzle-platforming mechanics that never really put a big grin on my face. I hardly think this is something everyone needs to go out and buy, but the amount of charm and warmth that exist here make it deserving of at least a rental.


21/30 - Good

Gameplay 7/10 - Nice puzzle-platforming elements, linear level design, jellybean concept is creative and well fleshed out, less about trial and error
Presentation 8/10 - Nicely-decorated visuals and environments with some variety, contains mostly soft, engaging music, glitchy in a small number of areas
Enjoyment 3/5 - Somewhat challenging in some areas, contains some truly heart-warming moments, charm helps tie everything together
Extra Content 3/5 - A good number of levels to complete, can look for secret jellybeans in all levels, additional bonuses to unlock and places to explore

Equivalent to a score of 70% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating)

Review by KnucklesSonic8
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