A Boy and His Blob is a simple and classic tale of good versus evil.
Blobolonia has been invaded by an evil Emperor! Poor innocent blobs going about their daily tasks have been cruelly locked away in cages, no longer able to frolic around in the open plains doing whatever it is normal blobs would do…
Before you begin to shed tears at the thought of their horrid plight however, fear not, Blob has come to the rescue! He has travelled through space to get to Earth in the hope of finding help. It is on Earth he finds the game’s protagonist, a young boy, and together they set off on an adventure to dethrone the evil Emperor.
The game is a 2D puzzle platformer which was originally released on the Wii in 2009. The game itself is a re-imagining of the 1989 NES classic A Boy and His Blob: Trouble on Blobolonia. If you’ve played the game previously on the Wii then note that, other than having trophy support and scaled up visuals, nothing new has been added.
So is the game a successful port and, if you’ve never played it before, is it worth playing a game from 7 years ago?
The opening cutscene of the game unfortunately didn’t bode well. The edges of the characters are quite jagged which makes Blob look surprisingly hairy. Fortunately when you’re actually playing the game the graphics really are beautiful. The backgrounds are colourful and detailed and, apart from the cutscene mentioned above, work really well on the Vita screen. I was really impressed by the lighting, the backdrops and even the animations when enemies are defeated.
The story of the game is minimalistic but heart-warming. The young boy is asleep in his tree house when he sees something come crashing down from the sky. He goes to investigate and finds Blob. There isn’t really much talking between the Boy and Blob but you can feel the friendship between them.
You can communicate with Blob in a limited number of ways. You can call to Blob to get him to come over to you, if he’s jumped into a nearby abyss you can whistle to get him to turn into a balloon which allows him to float towards you and also pass through walls. You can also scold him, although with Blob being as cute as he is I always felt bad doing that! You also have the ability to hug Blob which looks adorably cute. The only useful interactions are calling and whistling. Scolding and hugging was originally supposed to be part of an ’emotion system’ but this was abandoned during development. Thankfully, even though it serves no purpose, the animations for the in-game hug were left in.
The controls are simple, you control the Boy by moving with the analog stick and jumping with X. You will need to work with Blob to overcome the game’s various puzzles, you do this by feeding Blob different flavour jellybeans to make him transform into various useful items. There are 15 different things he can become; he can become a ladder to help you reach high platforms, an anvil which can be used to squish enemies, a cannon to shoot you over great distances and even a space hopper which you can use to bounce over objects or enemies.
In each level the game has already picked which jellybeans you have access to and new transformations are given to you without any kind of announcement or introduction. I think it would have been nice if you could have discovered new jellybeans yourself instead of just been handed a new selection in each level.
At times the boy feels slightly clumsy to control especially when jumping across platforms or over enemies. More than once I fell to my death or died touching an enemy on what should have been a fairly easy jump. Part of this may have been intentional, the boy is only about 6-years-old and realistically would be slightly clumsy, but it doesn’t make it any less frustrating. The AI of Blob is also, at times, irritating. You’ll throw a jellybean to get Blob to transform but he won’t transform exactly where you want him to.
There are four worlds in total, each with around ten levels. Levels aren’t massively long but hidden in every level are three chests and finding all three will unlock a challenge level bringing the total up to 80 levels. You don’t have to complete all the challenge levels to finish the game but doing so unlocks lots of gorgeous concept art and story boards.
The levels are fairly linear especially at the beginning. The game holds your hand a little too much with big signs in the background showing you the direction to go or which jellybean to use. The difficulty does gradually increase and some of the challenge levels can be quite tricky. None of the levels are very long but collecting all treasure chests might take a couple of goes.
At the end of each world there is a boss fight with one of the evil Emperor’s minions. I really enjoyed the boss fights, sometimes it took me a while to figure out the bosses attack pattern and how to beat them but it always felt really satisfying when I finally worked it out.
I did notice some very occasional slowdown in some levels but overall (apart from the jagged cutscenes at the beginning) I would say that the game has been successfully ported over to the PS Vita. The game does unfortunately suffer from some mildly annoying AI and clumsy controls but I still think it’s worth playing. The puzzles are fun, boss fights feel exciting to overcome and the challenge levels will keep you busy for a while.
A Boy and his Blob is just beautiful and it oozes charm. It also has a hug button…more games should have a button for hugs.