When it was released on the NES in 1989 David Crane’s A Boy And His Blob already felt dated, especially with brilliant titles like Super Mario Bros already available on the system. Rather than follow Mario’s lead A Boy And His Blob took a more vintage route and was a non-scrolling platformer that looked and controlled similarly to David Crane’s previous creation Pitfall. It really is astonishing that 20 years later another A Boy And His Blob title is being released, this time around it is being developed WayForward the studio behind Contra IV. Although the original title never exactly set the world on fire it is clear that WayForward have put a lot of love and passion in to this re-imagining and it has clearly paid off because the result is one the best 2D platformers in years.
At first glance it’s hard not to be amazed by the Wii version of A Boy And His Blob, the hand-drawn art style looks absolutely gorgeous and the game retains a charming and colorful European aesthetic through-out. Wii owners already saw just how graphically competent the Wii really is with the release of Muramasa: The Demon Blade last month and now A Boy And His Blob has added further confirmation that the Wii is capable of producing truly stunning visuals. This is easily one of the best looking games ever to appear on a Nintendo Platform so if you’re one of those multi-console owners who neglects their Wii because its an embarrassment to their huge HD TV’s this might be the game for you.
Story is not relevant here and the game does little to conjure one up but the basic premise is; Blob crash lands outside of Boy’s house, Boy instantly takes a liking to Blob and enlists Blobs help to overthrow the evil emperor who has taken over his home planet of Blobonia. The game takes place across 4 unique areas and 40 levels overall all of which look stunning. Despite having the cutest voice in a video game ever! Boy is pretty much useless by himself. Falling too far off of a ledge or bumping into an enemy results in instant death which can be frustrating as Boy can just barely jump over small gaps and/or enemies. Thankfully Blob has more tools than a Swiss Army Knife and feeding him different colored Jelly Beans allows him to shape shift and become handy objects such as a Ladder, Umbrella and a Giant Bubble. As the game progresses so does Blob’s abilities and eventually he’ll be able to transform into more robust objects such as a Cannon and miniature Space Ship which Boy can sit atop of and ride.
Unlike a typical platformer A Boy His Blob is much more puzzle orientated and you’ll definitely have to keep your brain turned on when traversing through each level. Despite starring a little boy and looking extremely cartoony, this game may be too difficult for most kids to get handle especially if they’re use to more simplistic platformers like the New Super Mario Bros. On the other hand, gamers who enjoy hardcore platformers like Braid will probably find taking down the emperor a tad too easy so WayForward has cleverly added 40 challenge room which become available as you complete story missions and collect hidden treasure chests. Completing these challanges room also unlocks bonus pieces of content as a nice incentive.
Despite all its accomplishments A Boy And His Blob is not a game without flaws, the most prevalent of which is the games control scheme. For whatever reason WayForward choose to make the game require the use of the Wii’s nun-chuk resulting in imprecise analog movement and to make matters worse they then thew in some baffling control decisions. I would have preferred to play using the Wii Remote held sideways or with the Classic Controller using the D-Pad rather than the analog stick and I’m disappointed that WayForward didn’t even allow the option. Even a simple task such as getting your Blob to eat Jelly Beans is far more complicated than it needs to be and involves a handful of steps. Another annoyance is the fact that the placement of the Jelly Beans in your item scroll wheel changes depending on what level you are currently playing, meaning on each new level you’ll waste time searching for your desired Bean because its no longer in the same position that it was in on the previous level. Eventually you’ll get the hang of the controls but it never becomes ideal and you’ll spend the entire game wishing that things were better.
Control issues aside A Boy And His Blob is a fantastic game that will both satisfy and challenge even hardcore Wii owners. If you’re little white console is currently gathering dust under you TV this is definitely a game you should at least consider picking up. However with New Super Mario Wii hot in its heels there is a huge possibility that this intelligent, beautiful and charming title may get underlooked by the masses.