Impressions: A Boy and His Blob

Once upon a time, I was a young girl armed with little more than my faithful Nintendo and gently-used Game Boy from the local pawn shop. Along with my brand new acquisition for on-the-go gaming, I received a smattering of games to put to good use. Among these were titles that my younger self couldn’t quite wrap her head around, such as the random Spanish translator (a very cheap game) and the quirky A Boy and His Blob. Though it took several attempts for me to finally understand why the blob accompanying the boy would eagerly gobble up jelly beans and change forms, I finally realized that I was playing through one of the most creative games of the time.  Twenty years later, the franchise returns with a stunning remake of legendary developer David Crane’s original masterpiece.  Is there still room in this world for blobs and those who love them?

Developer Wayforward has put everything out on the line here in order to recreate a beloved game that many of us will look back fondly on. With a fresh coat of paint as well as a complete graphical overhaul, it delivers as a quality revamping that all classic-to-current experiments could learn a thing or two from. It’s truly a majestic thing, being around long enough to see things you love coming around full circle.

The helpless blobs of Blobolonia have been imprisoned. A singular blob manages to hurdle to Earth in search of some help. Lo and behold he finds a kind young boy to help him on his quest, making a new friend in the process. That’s where you come in! Sure, there are only rudimentary threads of a story to hold everything together, but it does give so much more meaning to the characters you’ll be spending all that time with to come.

The game uses luscious, vividly detailed hand-drawn sprites that fit especially well for this type of adventure.  They look positively beautiful here, with bright and bold colors helping to bring this unique world to life like few games could ever boast about.  The look holds true to the original game, but updates things for today’s audiences (and television screens), making good use of the Wii’s ability to handle graphics like these.  The animation may be spotty at times, but that’s really just a reminder that actual humans took the time to lovingly craft just about everything you’re seeing on-screen…and by hand.  Lovely.

In fact, character interaction is what really makes the game work. You’ll be relying on your blob friend as much as he is relying on you – even for moral support, which is why you can give your squishy friend a big ol’ hug now and then. The special bond that forms between the boy and the blob is a very interesting one, and the final piece of the puzzle that brings all of the other elements together. Of course, there’s a lot more to the game than just a bunch of wordless communication and bonding with your nonhuman friend.

You’ll be solving puzzles with your blob in order to complete the game, which is done through the clever usage of several different jelly beans. Who would have thought that communication with an alien being would have been done so simply – a few morsels of candy! Your blobby buddy can transform into a myriad of different items – umbrellas, ladders, anvils, even trampolines. You’ll need to call upon this special power of his very often throughout each stage, but the blob can only become one object at a time. Figuring out when and where to use each item is where the real challenge lies. Sometimes you’ll be given visual clues such as signs, but often the game will become more complex, forcing you to figure out how to overcome several obstacles in order to progress even further. You might even need more than one handy dandy Blob specialty in order to keep moving. At one point, you’ll even be dealing with a Blob doppelganger of the boy you’re playing as, which is a real treat.

The puzzles are expertly crafted and while some are inherently simple to solve, WayForward did an excellent job of sprinkling in some truly perplexing situations that will force you to evaluate every single option. And that’s the mark of a truly engrossing and wholly exciting experience. The relationship between the boy and his blob acts as a driving force to make you want to keep pushing forward even when you’re not quite sure what to do next, so that perhaps you can save his home world and all of the rest of the blobs. It’s really quite endearing.

While there are only four worlds to traverse, A Boy and His Blob for the Wii has a multitude of treasures to unearth and even more puzzles to conquer. While I did find the jumping controls a bit iffy, everything else excels and it’s hard to fault the game for something so minor when it triumphs as a very successful reimagining of a classic franchise. As someone who’s been with this franchise from its early stages to what it’s evolved into, I’m proud to claim this re-imagining as one that’s stayed true to what the game has always been about. Definitely pick it up if you lack faith in your Wii library (or gaming in general) to experience one of the most unusual and heartwarming stories in some time.

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