We're not quite sure why developer WayForward decided to make a sequel to a 20-year-old NES game that most people have forgotten about. The original A Boy And His Blob didn't exactly set the gaming world on fire back in 1989 and as a result we're not entirely convinced how successful the name will be in attracting extra sales for this re-imagining. So it's fortunate that it doesn't have to rely on the series' heritage, because it's actually an impressive game in its own right.
The plot is simple stuff. Boy meets blob, boy befriends blob, boy feeds blob jellybeans, blob turns into different objects, boy decides to help blob return to its home planet and usurp its evil emperor. You know, that sort of thing. A Boy And His Blob isn't really about the plot, though. It's more about the classic gameplay and the relationship between the two lead characters. Playing as the boy, you'll quickly begin to feel a sense of companionship with the blob and the whole thing does eventually become more than a little heart warming, due in part to the famed 'hug' button (Up on the D-Pad) which serves no purpose whatsoever other than to make the player go "awwww".
Boy, This Looks Good
We'd be the first to tell you that graphics don't make or break a game, but we'd also be lying through our teeth if we said that A Boy And His Blob's visuals didn't contribute greatly to the game's overall atmosphere and mood. The hand-drawn 2D sprites and backgrounds are nothing short of breathtaking at times, especially when lighting effects come into play (the short night section with the glowbugs at the start of the game is incredibly atmospheric). Both boy and blob are expertly animated throughout.
What the game offers in sights, it certainly doesn't skimp in sounds. The musical score is at times epic and subtle in equal measure, and the in-game effects - which mostly consist of the boy shouting at the blob to either come follow him or wait somewhere - are varied enough to not become annoying too quickly. This combination of beautiful 2D hand-drawn graphics and a lovely orchestral soundtrack make for one of the most atmospheric games available on the Wii.
Beware The Blob
It's slightly unfortunate then that despite the unblemished presentation there are a few slight cracks in the actual gameplay. Most notable of these imperfections is the blob's occasional tendency to not go where you ask it to. If you chuck a jellybean down onto a lower platform, you'd hope it would jump down and eat it.
Sometimes it'll be more than happy to hop down and scoff away, whereas other times it'll just stand next to you, bemused. It's a frustrating glitch and one that isn't exactly reassuring when trying to plan out a successful route through a level. Also on the irritant list is the need to constantly ensure that the blob is still with you. Any time you reach a high platform (usually by turning the blob into a trampoline and jumping up), it's likely that the blob won't be able to jump up and join you.
This means you have to chuck a bean down to turn it into a balloon so it can float up. While this clearly adds to the realism of the game (if you want to call a blob eating a jellybean and turning into a balloon realism), it becomes irritating very quickly and slows down your progress significantly.
It gets even more frustrating if, after jumping to the high platform, you walk on further and then realise you've forgotten to bring blob with you. Now you're too far ahead to turn back and throw the balloon bean, leaving you with no option but to kill your poor blobless lad and restart the level. Grrrr. Still, such frustration is the nature of many puzzle games and while A Boy And His Blob may appear at face value to be a straightforward platformer, it's a puzzler at heart. Every single move has to be thought out, tried, rethought, retried and so on until you figure out how to proceed. Admittedly, as frustrating as the blob is to command, this does add to the feeling of accomplishment whenever a particularly tricky section is successfully navigated. The game gets exceptionally difficult fairly quickly however, so anyone who gets easily frustrated may be wise to stay away. We're generally laid back types but the air at ONM Towers turned blue on many an occasion over the course of this review.
A Boy And His Blob is without doubt one of the most artistically accomplished games on the Wii. A few frustrations prevent us from recommending it wholeheartedly but if you're willing to see past its irritating little quirks you'll still be in for a treat.