After enduring the suffering that was the original NES A Boy and His Blob, I found immense relief playing this vastly improved version of the game. Everything that was bad about the original game has been cast out like demons back to their unholy place of sorrow. The sins of the past... washed away!
WayForward's enhanced version of the old NES game takes the core concept and greatly improves all aspects of gameplay to create something that becomes a hundred times more enjoyable. The nameless Boy still uses different flavored jellybeans to transform his friend, the Blob, into different tools, items, and other handy things that enable him to progress his different environments.
After having played the original NES game, I can truly appreciate every single improvement that has been made: you now have infinite jelly beans, infinite lives, a generous number of checkpoints throughout each level so that you never have to re-tread much ground if you happen to die.
Also, in terms of difficulty, another improvement over the original game is that the game is now divided up into small, discrete levels rather than one large 2-D world where you're left to explore. Although I do love Metroid-style open-world kind of gameplay, which the original sort of resembled, I would argue the Blob transformation mechanic just doesn't mesh well with that kind of open world, especially one as poorly designed as the NES Blobolonia.
Jelly beans can easily be thrown onto any spot you desire, enabling great accuracy. Unlike the original, the game controls smoothly using the analog stick. You will appreciate the sensitivity of the analog stick when making precise movements such as when you're floating down a long shaft using the parachute Blob, since the Boy's movements going left and right have a definite sense of momentum. Overall, the analog control feels really good and responsive. I opted for Classic Controller rather than the remote/ nunchuk as the chuck offers no additional benefit, since the game uses no motion control or pointer capability.
Choose your jellybean flavor. It's fast and super easy!
I felt the pacing of the game was a bit too slow. The first two worlds are fairly easy, and there is simply too much explicit guidance, particularly with the painted signs telling you exactly which transformation you should use. The game is less about experimenting with what works and more about going through the motions of transforming the Blob and watching his animations (kind of like a loading time) just to be able to get to the next small section of a level. Plus, each level limits the different kinds of jellybeans you can use, so it would be only natural that experimentation would be a bigger gameplay component.
Gee, I wonder if that sign back there is a clue of some kind??? maybe
Many of the transformations are a lot of fun to use and really diversify the gameplay types. For example, there's one that transforms the Blob into a large protective sphere that the Boy can climb into, essentially becoming a hamster-in-a-ball (or a Monkey Ball, you Sega fans, you!), which is really fast and protects the Boy from danger. Obviously this power is limited to use in certain stages. Overall, I'm very happy with all the new Blob transformations that were added, and many of the old ones from the NES have returned and are as useful as ever.
There are also challenge levels to unlock by finding the three treasures hidden in each level. What I like about these 'expert' levels is they usually challenge your platforming abilities just as much or maybe even more so than the puzzle aspects of the normal levels.
There are some new elements thrown at you as you progress through the game that add to the challenge and force you to think creatively, like the hummingbird enemies that gobble up the jellybeans as you throw them when you're near, thus preventing a Blob transformation. Plus, the boss battles are a lot of fun. For example, the boss of World 3 requires you to use just about all your different Blob abilities to bring him down, making for a very satisfying duel! You basically experiment with what you are given and put things to use.
If there's one word to sum up this game, it is: charming. The cartoon animation, and the soothing melodies. There's a hug button!
The Boy's animation is excellent and is very smooth. There's a lot of cool shading/ shadow and lighting effects as the Boy travels through the different environments. I love seeing all the different background and foreground layers with parallax scrolling, and there's subtle touches such as some of those elements being interactive, like when your two characters brush aside vines (and the vines swing smoothly) as they walk across them. Yeah, it's not as complex as the layers in, say, Muramasa, but it's still a visual treat. Plus, a lot of the layers have simple but nice animations: branches swaying, leaves and vegetation.
I love the variety in the environments. The first time I saw the caverns was really great, with many layers, all wonderfully animated: gentle cascading waterfalls, the shimmering pools of water reflecting the stalactites. The animation simply shines throughout the whole game and is filled with seemingly hand-drawn goodness. Similar to some levels in New Super Mario Bros. Wii, you'll find levels where you're surrounded in darkness, and Blob then becomes a limited light source. Other levels use the silhouette visual imagery, where only the background is lit, making you and other characters simple shadows (technique expertly used in Donkey Kong Country Returns).
The music is certainly well done and is quite enjoyable. However, the only complaint I have is that the music loops on itself quite poorly. You'll hear an abrupt end to the track before it loops, and it just breaks the flow of an otherwise pleasant soundtrack. Surprisingly, some of the music tracks borrow heavily from the original NES theme (which sounded pretty awful in the first place) and is used in various tracks such that it brought a smile to my face whenever I would recognize it. Overall, music is soothing and relaxing (The caverns come to mind...)
Subterra music is oh so nice
Great nod to the original NES game!
Also, the Boy crying out "Blooob!" is cute but annoying when you're doing it constantly, though I guess it makes sense that you call out for him so he will come. The simple whistle would have been sufficient.
To sum it up: I'm really happy how WayForward revitalized the old game by taking the source and focusing on the core mechanic and making a game worth remembering. For fans of the 2D puzzle platformer genre, you really can't go wrong with this game, and you owe it to yourself to check it out at this point in the Wii's life.
I enjoyed this one quite a bit, and its 14 dollar price on Amazon sure is tempting (I rented it and couldn't finish in time). Great visuals, charm, and clever puzzle gameplay.
I thought the controls were a little iffy in spots, and the jellybean colors kept movin' around from level to level, which was somewhat annoying. Otherwise, I've got little to complain about regarding this adorable title from WayForward.
@Guillaume I mean in general (past, present, and future). With this game, all the "Mighty" games, and the Shantae games, Wayforward is a third party company that keeps on delivering quality product for Nintendo. I can't wait to see what they do on the 3DS and Wii U.
Haha, I didn't notice my repeated phrase when I was editing the review but you're right, thanks for pointing that out. Good catch! It's fixed, glad you have been enjoying my reviews. Oh, and that's a good tip about not viewing the unlockable concept art while you complete challenge levels. Yeah, they spoil a lot.
Yeah, you're right, it's pretty cheap at Amazon! @carlosrox, I guess you haven't found a good deal like that yet. I know that as an artist you will likely appreciate this game just for the visuals alone.
Very nice review, indeed, roykoopa64. A Boy and His Blob holds a very special place in my gaming heart, and is a game that from the start I knew I'd be taken by. And taken I was. It isn't a perfect game, yet when rating the game myself I could give it nothing less than a perfect score. It is, as others have echoed, unbelievably charming. Everything melds together to form a wonderfully rich, evocative experience. Your rating is lower than mine, but mine is bit bloated I must admit, and your criticisms are certainly warranted - especially when noting the lack of freedom of exploration. Linear games are fine, but A Boy and His Blob does limit one's inventive need for progression. Yet its issues are easy to overlook once engrossed in all that the game has to offer. From its gorgeous visuals to its captivating melodies, A Boy and His Blob is a game of rare caliber. One recommended to all that are open to experience games created with care, that will open its heart up to you and offer up a hug or two. So, thank you, roykoopa64, for drawing attention to this sadly overlooked, sadly underplayed, and sadly under-appreciated diamond in the Wii rough.
@NoName, I always knew you were a big fan of this game, so your comments are much appreciated. And I completely understand your reasoning behind your score, it's just like Sir Master Sephiroth said in his editorial, a game's flaws may not be enough to bring down your enjoyment of a particular game if the positives far outweigh everything else you personally hold dear to.
By the way everyone, just to spread some of that love for this game, I found this cool wallpaper (it's on my desktop now):
Click this link for the original image (1280x1024).