(Wii)

Game Review

A Boy and His Blob Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Corbie Dillard

Now this is how you're supposed to update a classic

Originally released in 1989 on the NES console, A Boy and His Blob was quickly praised for its originality and unique gameplay ideas. Unfortunately, it was also criticized for its often sluggish control system and sometimes confusing level designs. Over the years several developers have created updates of the original title for the Game Boy and DS systems only to see these titles ultimately cancelled.

Now here we are some twenty years later, and developer WayForward Technologies have decided to breathe new life into the game, creating an updated version for Nintendo's Wii console. Not only have they added in some of the most breathtaking 2D visuals you're ever likely to see on the console, they've also brought a wealth of new gameplay ideas into the mix as well. So how exactly does this two-decade-old gameplay idea hold up, and does this new version of the game really improve upon the original release's unique but slightly erratic gameplay formula?

While you'll spend a lot of your time platforming through the various parts of each level, there will often be times when you're presented with challenges that your character cannot overcome by himself. This is where your Blob companion comes into play: feeding the Blob various flavored jellybeans will cause it to turn into a useful item you can use to make your way through the tricky parts of each level. And with an unlimited supply of jellybeans, you can use them as often as you like. Some of these transformations include springboards you can jump on, parachutes you can use to glide to safety with, rockets you can fly around on and many more unique abilities for you to make use of. You'll begin the game with only a handful of these jellybean transformations, but as you progress through the game's many levels you'll acquire new jellybean abilities as you go. You'll only be given certain abilities in each level and it's up to you to choose which ones you use and where. Some levels afford you only a few abilities, whereas others will give you a full complement of eight to choose from. It's this varying set of transformations that will ultimately make traversing the levels possible, but equally challenging as well.

The game is broken down into worlds, each with ten levels to complete. In each world you'll start out in your hideout where you'll have a world map with which to choose the levels you'll take on, with your goal simply being to reach the exit portal located somewhere in each level. There are also three treasure chests hidden in each level for you to locate and pick up, which will unlock unique items in your hideout that can be used to play special challenge levels. Once you've completed all of the levels in a specific world, you'll have to take on the boss of that area in order to progress to the next one - these boss fights are pretty standard, but they do force you to make use of your various abilities in order to defeat them. So although they do play out like traditional boss fights, they also feature many of the same puzzle-solving elements that you'll find in each of the game's many regular levels and are every bit as challenging.

You can control your character and the Blob using either the Wii Remote and Nunchuk attachment or the Classic Controller. You will be confined to the analog stick for moving your character around no matter which you choose as there is no support for the D-pad, a puzzling omission since it would seem to fit the nature of the 2D gameplay so well. Both forms of control work equally well, so it's more a matter of personal preference than anything.

There are several buttons for the various commands you'll be using throughout the game: you have one action button this is used to call your Blob when you need him to return to your side, and you also have a button that will pull up the jellybean ring menu. By holding down this button you can then use the analog stick to point in one of the eight directions, each containing a different flavored jellybean and ability. This makes it easy to quickly choose different abilities on the fly or when the action heats up. There are also buttons to make your character jump and toss out the jellybeans, and you can even use the analog stick to aim where you want to toss it, with an almost infinite range of trajectories. This comes in very handy in later levels where increased accuracy is required in certain tricky situations.

You'll quickly find that the controls used in the game might be a little confusing at first, but once you've come to grips with them you'll see how functional they really are. The control is extremely responsive no matter the situation, and even the various transformations you'll have to make use of are all set up quite well and control very intuitively. Some of the more over-the-top abilities like the rocket and the giant ball take a little time to get a feel for, especially given how touchy the control of them is, but it all tends to play into the game's sense of challenge and coming to grips with them is yet another part of the game's charm. The difficulty curve is fairly smooth in the game with the levels having an ever-increasing degree of challenge and variety of abilities with which to choose from.

You'll also find a nice amount of replay value in the way you can revisit the levels in order to locate missed treasure chests that will unlock special challenge levels for you to play from the hideouts. These levels are similar to the regular levels, only they offer a much higher level of challenge and require you to restart the level completely over when your character dies, instead of starting at various checkpoints as you do in the regular levels. Couple these extra challenge levels with the already impressive set of regular levels and what you have is a game that's not only loaded with content, but is also a heck of a lot of fun to play.

As solid as this title's gameplay package is, nothing can touch the breathtaking visuals you'll find laid out throughout the game. The cel-shaded graphics the game uses makes each area look like it jumped straight out of a watercolor painting and onto your television screen. The amazing use of vivid colors coupled with the over-the-top scenery tossed into each area make the game really come to life onscreen. The silky smooth animation and multiple layers of background scrolling even further push the gorgeous visuals to new heights. There's even some dynamic lighting effects in certain places that show just how detail-oriented the developers were in crafting this 2D visual masterpiece. It's easily one of the best visual performances on the Wii console to date and a testament to the visual capabilities of the console when placed in the right hands.

As far as musical score goes, A Boy and His Blob is a bit difficult to describe. The musical tunes themselves are all top notch, and at times sound more like a motion picture score than a video game soundtrack. The tunes cover a wide spectrum of moods and are used quite fittingly in each of the game's many levels. While the tracks are repeated at times throughout the game, they're spaced out so evenly and are of such high quality that you'll hardly even notice it, and if you're fortunate enough to own a quality surround sound system, you're in for quite a treat from the game's audio experience. Even the sound effects, such as the boy's variety of Blob calls and whistles, are very well executed. It's clear that the developers wanted to create the same level of polish with the game's audio presentation as was shown the various other aspects of the game.

Conclusion

With this update of A Boy and His Blob, WayForward have somehow been able to accurately capture the unique gameplay elements of the original title and wrap them up inside one of the most beautiful and polished Wii releases to date. To say that this game is an improvement on the original would be a gross understatement: not only does the game add an almost endless amount of depth and playability to the original gameplay idea, but it does so in a way that will keep you coming back for more. Whether you're a fan of the original NES release or not, you absolutely owe it to yourself to give A Boy and His Blob a try as you'd be hard-pressed to find a more rewarding gameplay experience available on the Wii console.

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User Comments (60)

Sabrewing

#1

Sabrewing said:

I'm just glad that jellybeans are infinite now. I HATED hunting for beans in the NES version.

theblackdragonAdmin

#2

theblackdragon said:

man, i love a good platformer. will definitely be hitting this up when i have the available funds. :3

derk711

#3

derk711 said:

this, super mario bros., drawn to life,... my wallet is going to hurt.

WolfRamHeart

#6

WolfRamHeart said:

Excellent review Corbie! I couldn't agree more about the quality of this game. It definitely ranks up there with the best Wii games of 2009. I may not have played the original but this game has that old-school, classic vibe and it is a shining example of how great video games can be. WayForward has done it again!:)

FATEM

#7

FATEM said:

I can't believe you didn't mention that pressing up on the D-Pad makes the boy hug the blob.

Terra

#9

Terra said:

Great Review Corbie.

I really want this game; How much longer until Europe/UK get it?

CorbsAdmin

#12

Corbs said:

I mentioned the only two control methods in the review. No Gamecube controls. :)

DazzaAdmin

#13

Dazza said:

Great review Corbie, I am glad to see that this game lived up to expectations. I am a big fan of the NES original, who could have asked for a better tribute than this?

I just live the graphical style, it's so lush. I haven't bought a lot of Wii games lately but this will surely be on my preorder list.

Fleeman

#14

Fleeman said:

I'm about 75% done the game and i love it and it gets pretty hard near the end I also like how can beat the challenges right away to unlock the extra's as you play. Best music player every.

Token_Girl

#15

Token_Girl said:

Sounds like a great game. Too bad I hate playing 2-d games with analog sticks instead of d-pads. I'll have to put this on my long list of games to get when I get home (and get a job and therefore, money) next year.

JayArr

#16

JayArr said:

Excellent review. Purchase for sure, now. I can't wait to get my hands on this one!

Philip_J_ReedStaff

#17

Philip_J_Reed said:

Excellent review, Corbie. My personal favorite moment in the game so far was hearing the re-orchestrated NES theme in the first level World 2. I think I just had to sit and smile for a while before I got on with the level. It was so lovely.

I was afraid the challenge in this game would be pretty low (and, indeed, it is for the first few levels), but I'm only about halfway through World 2 and the bonus levels are definitely brutal. In a good way!

As far as I'm concerned, WayForward can take up the reins of any series they like. I'll support them all the way.

Speaking of which, did you notice the Shantae doll in the boy's bedroom? :)

Hoffkage

#19

Hoffkage said:

The graphics are truly exceptional and if they even polished more the gameplay this game should be sweet.

I probably rent it.

MayhemStaff

#20

Mayhem said:

Apparently it's a bit hard to find in the US... I'll be ordering it online next time I need to import something... probably NSMB! :p

BlueBandanaJake

#21

BlueBandanaJake said:

I need money so I can get my hands on this, I've been wanting it since I first saw screens of it. WayForward continues to rock the house with their games, Contra 4, Lit, Mighty Flip Champs and now A Boy and His Blob, cant wait for their next endeavor.

Great review, but what kept this one from being a 10? You didn't mention any set backs at all.

blank_user_1

#22

blank_user_1 said:

Since when did anything this good come from Majesco? I'll have a hard time choosing Christmas presents this year.

Knux

#23

Knux said:

Very great review, Corbie! The only thing keeping this game from being perfect is the lack of d-pad control. Awesome game, but I have never played the original. I will be playing this game so more soon. :)

Reala

#24

Reala said:

Hope this trend of 2D wii games continues, never played the prequel but will be getting the wii version.

motang

#25

motang said:

Ahh...reading this review makes me want this game even more now! Dammit Amazon ship my copy already! :D

Gigantorama

#29

Gigantorama said:

It's so good to know platformers haven't gone anywhere, that they're still alive and kickin'. I will definitely be getting this title once some funds roll in.

pravi

#31

pravi said:

I bought last week, I just live the graphical style.It's really good to work on any platform

Ren

#32

Ren said:

holy moly,
I was so into the original I was scared about this one, but now I'm going to have to dump some money on it! Dang! Brutus answered my most burning question: if there was an homage to the original music which was also fantastic for it's time. I can't wait to dive into this. Thanks for the great review, I was really on the fence, but it sounds like they gave it the love it's really deserved after all these years.

Philip_J_ReedStaff

#33

Philip_J_Reed said:

"Brutus answered my most burning question: if there was an homage to the original music which was also fantastic for it's time."

Yep. I started to think we wouldn't get a reworked version of that (awesome) original theme...and then, all at once, in a VERY appropriate setting, it was revealed in all of its perfect, beautiful glory. :)

All of the music in this game is quite good, to mine ear. There's even one background track that puts in me in the mind of the first Metroid Prime game, though I can't put my finger on why.

Whoever does the music for WayForward...I'd sincerely like to shake that gentleman's hand. (If it's a lady, I'll do something else.)

SwerdMurd

#34

SwerdMurd said:

Man....gonna have to wait on it. Moving, and have to pay the onslaught of initial-move-in expenses...gotta be ready for it.

Yeah looking at the screenshot with the house....that 2D just looks insane. Might be robbing a Gamestop....

WaveBoy

#35

WaveBoy said:

Looks awesome! Great Review...Unlike IGN's, where Matt C gave it a 7.6....is he insane? NintendoLife gives out the best Reviews based on everything Nintendo, IGN is on the ball imo.

OldBoy

#36

OldBoy said:

Great review Corbie ,as always. Another game clamering for my attention.No doubt this will bomb at retail and I'll be able to pick it up for a tenner in 6 months time :).Will definetly be checking this one out at some point though.

Zenman

#38

Zenman said:

yep, gonna have to see if i can inveigle my parents into getting this for Christmas...nice to see developers finding ways around the wii's graphical issues

mjc0961

#40

mjc0961 said:

That really crappy old game with the randomly named jellybeans? I'm surprised anyone would want to remake that turd.

MrPanic

#41

MrPanic said:

If I had to buy all the games this gave 9's too, I'd be broke for a long time already. Seriously, if you guys keep giving high ratings like that, no one can tell which game is better than another. I know this is a great game, but I've seen enough flaws in the game that would give it a 8 instead of a 9.

Maybe you guys should change the rating system by making steps of 0.5 available(10,9.5,9,8.5,...). The number says a lot about a game, so make as clear as you can.

CanisWolfred

#42

CanisWolfred said:

@mjc0961

I'm surprised it wasn't remade sooner. It was a decent game with a cult status, and most of the flaws would likely be fixed, like they are in this one.

As for me, even though I could care less about the original, I really want to play this one. A unique game with an interesting concept, gameplay that rewards creativity and critical thinking as well as skill, and a charming, child-friendly aesthetic. What more could you ask for?

@Mr.Panic

That's why you don't just go off of scores, dude. Obviously, if one factor leaves you with too large a group to make a decicision, use another factor to help wittle it down, whether it be your tastes, interests, price, content, replay value, etc., etc. These reviews are here to help you make your own decision, not make the decision for you.

Kafei2006

#44

Kafei2006 said:

"Over the years several developers have created updates of the original title for the Game Boy and DS systems only to see these titles ultimately cancelled."

The sequel for Game Boy was released. It was "Rescue of Princess Blobette". I remember playing it on my Aunt's Game Boy when i was a kid (and nearly finising it)

LEGEND_MARIOID

#45

LEGEND_MARIOID said:

ONM gave it a decent 80% score. They said something about poor blob AI. It does't go where you want it to. Anyone else noted this?

I'm still going to get this baby.

TheMan35

#46

TheMan35 said:

The Blob AI works great. I never really had a problem except maybe a couple of times. Not a big deal. I don't know. I really liked the controls and never had an issue with them.

Crazed

#50

Crazed said:

This game looked so good from the commercials, but I was concerned that this game would be too easy for $50 dollars. I'm glad to see that this game is a challange even to people who have played the game before, which eases my only concern about this game. Thanks again for the fantastic review, Corbie.

earthworm

#51

earthworm said:

This game is great. Definitely one of the best things on the Wii. My only complaint is all the hints, but at least they don't last the whole game. I just have two challenge levels remaining that I haven't yet been able to beat.

romulo

#54

romulo said:

You guys complaining about the lack of d-pad support should give the analog a chance. I'm playing with the nunchuk configuration and it's working perfectly.

By the way, the game is awesome!

Incognito_D

#56

Incognito_D said:

This game is really good. It deserves far more attention and sales than I suspect will get unfortunately. At least we can try and change that though, so everyone who likes the look of this game; go out and buy it!

VilicoBRA

#57

VilicoBRA said:

Thanks guys! I bought this game and it is really great. It is alive! The boy and the blob are really just data? I can't believe it!

Dodger

#59

Dodger said:

Saw this at Sam's Club for $12. I think I might get this instead of Metroid Prime 3 used for $10 for now. Both games look good.

mattv76

#60

mattv76 said:

I missed this one when it came out a few years ago, so when I recently saw it at Best Buy for $12, I picked it up. I hafta say, the game is incredibly fun and the visuals are simply amazing. I'm a sucker for a good platformer and this one doesn't disappoint!

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