Seems like there’s always trouble on Blobolonia.
PUBLISHER: Absolute Entertainment
RELEASE DATE: January 1990
A Boy and His Blob is one of those games I’d imagine would have benefited from a massive Nintendo Power strategy guide back in the days before GameFAQS. Otherwise, you as a five-to-twelve-year-old would have one lost weekend on your hands. David Crane and his cronies at Absolute Games have created a real noodle-scratcher: on one hand, conceptually interesting, but poorly executed. A Boy and His Blob (as if blobs can ever be owned by any one person, please and no thank you, blobs are by themselves, for themselves, and one day they will rise up agai-) is a sad misconception, and from what I hear, was remade into the game it should have been on the Wii. The sad part is, more people bought the confounding NES version!
I really want to like this charming coming-of-age bromance between a boy and his mound of ooze, but the execution of the game flies way over my head, somewhere between Koei strategy games and sports simulators. You begin in a “run-down back alley” in the evening (cue SF4 announcer – Boy V. Blob go!) with only a white smiling blob and a bag full of twelve “equal-but-differently-flavored” jellybeans. Each of the flavors change the blob into different things, all of which allow you to get around within the game. The fact that the blob can morph into a hummingbird, a ladder, and a rocket among other things is awesome because you, as a boy, are physically challenged and can’t jump. That’s how you know this is a puzzle game and not a platformer, by the way. You will be spending the majority of your days figuring out when to use what jellybeans. In the end, though, it’s all about trial and error.
Personally, I’m a fan of video-game logic. If a wall has cracks in it, shoot it. If there are gaps between platforms, jump over them, not through them. A Boy and His Blob lacks any steady gaming logic that I could find in the brief time that I tangoed with it. In the first area, you venture down into a sewer. The sewer is divided into two sections and it doesn’t look as though you’ll be able to break through, until *GASP!* you feed your blob a punch jelly bean, he turns into a hole, and you can sink to the bottom section. Move all the way to the left, feed your blob a licorice jellybean, he turns into a ladder, collect some monies, bam, you’re feeling good about your blob-feeding skills. But then… there’s no way to get back up to the surface. I looked up GameFAQS on how to progress through the sewer and you’re supposed to turn the blob into a hole again, but there’s nothing on screen that would dictate this; other than you can’t go back the way you came. Perhaps for some players this wouldn’t offend, but it really ruffled my feathers to the point of non-playability.
I understand that non-linear games still existed during the days of the NES, and the concept of non-linearity itself doesn’t offend, but I don’t take pleasure in random happenstance in games. Castlevania II? Not a fan. Zelda II? Not a fan. Both of those games contain what-do-I-do syndrome, to the point where I no longer cared about either game. A Boy and His Blob reminds me of those games, except for one thing: the concept is so unique, I wish the game worked. I could see myself playing through this game (with an FAQ by my side), just to see where the boy’s misadventures with his magical jellybeans would take me. It has the potential to be a charming, esoteric adventure – something the developers at WayForward realized when they “re-imagined” it for the Wii – and this makes its poor design all the more disheartening.