Originally released in 1989 on the NES, A Boy and His Blob is a game that was beloved by many for its unique concept and ideas. Twenty years later, developer Abstraction Games succeeds in creating a remake that captures the spirit and style of the original game. A Boy and His Blob follows the same premise as the original game, a boy meets a friendly blob who together travel to varied lands while collecting treasures and defeating sinister black creatures. They work together in a very harmonious way: The blob is virtually invincible and can transform into several different forms to help the boy while the unnamed boy feeds the blob different jellybeans that allow the blob to perform these transformations.
A Boy And His Blob: Xbox One [Reviewed], Wii, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Microsoft Windows, Linux, Mac OS
Developer: Abstraction Games
Release Date: 20 January 2016
Price: £7.99 [Disclosure: Game Copy Provided by Publisher]
At its most basic level, A Boy and His Blob is primarily a puzzle platformer. Your main goal in every level is to reach the end of the stage while navigating through various platforms, solving simple puzzles, and occasionally defeating black creatures by dropping stuff on them or using the blob as a weapon. In each level, you are giving a selection of jelly beans (which is selected through a radial menu) that allows the blob to transform into a myriad of forms such as ladders, anvils, trampolines, parachutes, and a canon. New jelly beans and new forms are introduced over the four different worlds throughout the game, which helps prevent newer levels from feeling repetitive and stale. You are also limited to whatever jelly beans the game gives you at the start of each level, which forces you to consider all the possible ways to use each jelly bean in order to get to the end.
The boy can only jump, push rocks, and feed the blob jelly beans while the blob simply eats the jelly beans in order to help the boy navigate the level. Despite the simplicity of it all, the game manages to remain engaging throughout the 10-12 hour campaign with puzzles that are simple yet require sharp thinking and problem-solving acuity. Beyond the campaign levels, there are also challenge missions that are unlocked by collecting all the treasures in each of the main levels. These challenge missions are similar to the main levels in the game but are a bit more difficult and unforgiving. Unlike the main campaign levels where you are given an abundant amount of checkpoints, dying at any point during these challenge missions means that you have to restart the entire mission again from the beginning. As such, the challenge missions offer a bit more depth to players who may find the main campaign levels a bit too easy.
Much like the gameplay, there isn’t really much to the story itself. One night, a blob travelling in a rocket ship crash lands on Earth where it is discovered by a boy. Together, the young boy and the blob go on an adventure across various lands such as the woods, underground caves, and even the blobs home planet of Blobolonia. There isn’t much detail about either character. The boy’s name and background are never given, and there isn’t much info on the blob or why he crashed on earth. Apart from a couple cutscenes that appear in between worlds, there is little in the way of story and character development in A Boy and His Blob. Despite that, there is still a lot of heart in the game, and the relationship between the boy and his blob feel genuine even without much dialogue or interaction. You are able to call on the blob to come by your side at any given time, and there are different actions available for interacting with the blob such as hugging and scolding it. When the boy dies (either by falling from a very tall height or by touching an enemy creature), the blob looks at the boy with a deep concern akin to a dog with its master. It’s little touches such as these that bring a level of heart that isn’t seen in most other games, which is why the ending cutscene is a bittersweet moment that left me wanting more.
A Boy and His Blob isn’t without its faults, however. The blob’s AI can be a bit inconsistent at times. Most of the times it’s easy to call the blob in order to eat a jellybean into the next form that is required but occasionally it will just stand there staring into space like it doesn’t know what it’s doing. Some of the later levels (and boss fights) require a bit too much trial-and-error that it may be frustrating for the target audience. Furthermore having only four world’s means that most every level in each world blends into each other fairly quickly, and it’s hard to distinguish one level from another even if each one has completely different jelly beans and puzzles. However even with these minor issues, A Boy and His Blob is still a very well-crafted platformer.
Overall, A Boy and His Blob is a game that will likely appeal to gamers of all ages. The simple yet elegant design of the gameplay and art style make it a game that even casual fans of the medium will be able to understand, and the difficulty is handled in a way that is largely straightforward and logical. It’s obvious that Abstraction Games remake of this classic was handled with much care and reverence for the source material. The art style is aesthetically pleasing and charming while the gameplay has been modernized in a way that isn’t confusing or frustrating for a younger generation of gamers.