A Boy and his Blob (Wii) - Review by Chris



In this day and age, the release of ports and remakes are no real surprise, with their having been many released so far this generation. I doubt, however, many have been met with the optimism that has greeted A Boy and His Blob at every play test since it's unveiling. Released in 1989, the original game, A Boy and His Blob: Trouble on Blobolonia, was released in the dying days of the NES and as such didn't quite garner the attention it should have received. Luckily, WayForward have stepped up to bring the game to life on the Wii, completely revamped and re-imagined in the hope of getting it the attention it so rightly deserved. And the end result certainly will grab your attention for good reasons.


The A Boy and His Blob games have never been ones to have provided stellar stories. With this being a re-imagining of the original game, those very select few of you who have had the privilege to play the game will be instantly familiar with what is occurring here. But because I speak to the minority here, the story goes, for those who don't know, as thus: the planet of Blobolonia is under threat from a tyrannical emperor. A white amorphous blob, called Blob, sees this as his chance to search for help in returning the planet to its former glory and sets off for Earth where his landing awakes a young boy sleeping in his tree house. Venturing out to see what all the commotion is, he comes across Blob and from that point onwards, a friendship buds and the two set out to stop the emperor at all costs. The game actually keeps the story very much subdued, with the only textual information on it available courtesy of the instruction manual, so as to create a heart-warming tale of two friends helping each other out and this is something the game does very much and very well. It's also very quick to get you into the actual game, with minimal loading times and no main menu screen.

The gameplay takes the form of a 2d platformer, with a heavy dose of puzzle solving and treasure collecting for heavy measure. But don't mistake this as a Mario wannabe. No, this is a very different game. There are similar mechanics shared between these games, but they are as far from being similar as you could get in the genre. The game sees you having to communicate and use Blob to help you progress through the levels and defeat enemies. It is this communication that is key to completing the game and you'll do this by way of a collection of 15 jelly beans which will transform Blob into instruments needed to defeat enemies or simply progress. Transformations come in the forms of the likes of a ladder, a trampoline and a space hopper, to name but a small few of what is on offer but later transformations really make the game that bit more enjoyable than it already is. You'll only have access to a set selection of these at any given time in each of the levels you play through so making use of what you have available is the key to working out some of the game's more difficult puzzles and to reach those illusive treasure chests if you want to grab the game's unlockables. There is, unfortunately, an issue with the AI controlling Blob which seems unable to keep up with what is going on some of the time, or gets stuck on scenery while trying to reach a bean. It does make it slightly annoying that your compatriot can be incompetent but in the end, a simple press of the call button will usually, and quickly, solve any issues.

The game spans over a series of 40 levels, split between 5 worlds from the wooded starting of your initial meeting with Blob to the alien world of Blobolonia. When you look at it like that, it doesn't sound like much and indeed, those 40 levels can be completed in a relatively short period of time. Yet, the difficulty of these levels increases dramatically as you near the end and your confrontation with the Emperor, with some of the levels proving more difficult than some gamers will care for as do some of the bosses, and it's definitely something that will leave you pulling your hair out as you try for the umpteenth time to get passed one of the puzzles. But the game is lovingly created that any failings you go through don't leave you angry but curious as to what lies ahead and so you'll continue on. And if the initial 40 levels don't suffice, if you collect 3 hidden treasure chests in each of the levels, you'll unlock a challenge level, accessible through the hideout and if you complete these, you'll unlock some conceptual art from the game's development. If you have trouble with the initial offerings then you'll definitely struggle here because again, they lure you in with a few simple levels and quickly crank the difficulty up meaning the longevity of the game is extended beyond original boundaries, even if it is because you can't quite master one of these levels.


The one area where the game has any form of failing is unfortunately the controls. A simple NES style setup with the Wii-mote held sideways would have sufficed but that isn't the setup offered here. You have a choice between plugging in the Nunchuk or using the Classic Controller but which ever setup you use, it still feels far from what it should have been. The analogue stick just doesn't give the precision needed for some of the more difficult platforming elements and it's something which could easily have been avoided with a simpler setup. Likewise, accessing your collection of jelly beans brings up a radial menu but because the analogue stick controls aren't entirely accurate, you'll find yourself pushing in the desired direction of the bean you want only to find it not working. It's a shame because the controls are otherwise good and easy to get to grips with. There are a few charming surprises thrown in for good measure though and just having the ability to hug Blob accessible at any moment with a press of the up direction on the d-pad is just a really nice touch, if only a little too sickeningly cute.


If the debate of whether games can be called art or not still hasn't been answered, then surely this game closes the door fully on the question. The game is absolutely stunning, redoing all of the original graphics in a beautiful hand drawn, pastel scheme that leaps out of the screen at you and makes you take notice. Levels are beautiful, showcasing an attention of detail that is rarely seen in games nowadays and sees little creatures going about their lives and environmental effects such as waterfalls and lighting effects that are expertly done. Character models are equally well done. The boy looks superb as do Blob, his various forms, and all the enemy blobs, from the simple slug like creatures to the big screen filling blob bosses, and they are all animated with so much fluidity that everything seems natural. Art director Marc Gomez has gone on record stating that the likes of filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki were heavy influences on the art direction and it really shows with the attention to detail and charm rivalling that seen in his various films. You only need to see two enemy blobs skipping along holding hands so see how charming the game is. There really aren't enough superlatives to help describe the visuals.


Accompanying the stunning visuals is an equally impressive score, which just works perfectly with what is on offer. It's soft and melodic when it needs to be, carelessly easing you through the levels, before jumping into something a bit more upbeat to cater to the more audacious level designs or encounters.

Final comments

A Boy and His Blob was a title that definitely deserved attention back in its original form because of how good it was and this is no different. This re-imagining brings with it almost unparalleled levels of presentation, with a visual style that pushes the boundaries of what is cute and charming, and will leave you smiling the whole time, and a score that oozes atmosphere. Couple this all with an imaginative form of gameplay and you have a real gem on your hands. This is the kind of game the console was made for and I hope we see more of this kind of thing. A Boy and His Blob certainly shows that 2D platformers are far from dead. A must have for anyone with a Wii.

Pro: Incredible presentation values, challenging yet intuitive gameplay, seeing the boy hug Blob will bring a smile to your face
Con: Controls aren't as precise as they need to be, Blob's AI has trouble keeping up
Final score: 9


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Boxart of A Boy and his Blob (Wii)
Platform: Wii
Genre: Adventure
Developer: WayForward Technology
Publisher: Majesco