A Boy and His Blob - Review

It's time to talk about a young boy and his jellybean loving oversized piece of silly putty. A Boy and His Blob began its journey back in 1989 on its original home of the NES. It was then remade into its current form and released on the Nintendo Wii in 2009. Now, if you're keen to get your hands on this game based on the gorgeous cover art or because you played it on the Wii and loved it, you won't have to pull out your old console or hunt down a second hand one. A Boy and His Blob is now available on the Playstation 4, Xbox One, Playstation Vita, PC, OSX and Linux. 

Back in 1989 graphics were certainly something completely different than what we see today in games. It's probably reasonable to suggest that the amount of pixels used in an entire screen is less than what is used to create just the 2016 version's 'boy'. It's very obvious, although the graphical style of this re-make isn't going to destroy any graphics cards, that there has been a lot of work put into making this new version simply beautiful. The colours are the first thing that caught my eye when I saw the screen shots on the Playstation store. This version is a re-release/remaster of the 1999 Wii version and time and care has been put into up-scaling the game into 1080p resolution with 60 fps. It is because of this that the game plays smooth and looks marvellous when blown up onto a 60 inch full high definition television. 

The level environments and the characters all blend together nicely and give the game a humble simplicity that reminds me of some old cartoons that I used to watch as a child such as Astro Boy. The characters are charming and although there is no dialogue, written or spoken, the game projects emotion and personality more than a lot of triple 'A' games that have more dialogue than they should. The boy, who is known as just that, comes across as a confident young man that when faced with the unknown, doesn't back down and embraces the weird blobby alien that he meets after it seemingly crash lands near where the boy lives.

This is where the story begins. The boy meets up with this white coloured blob and begins a journey. During this journey, the game unfolds into a very competent platformer with simplicity that will have even the most casual gamer enjoying the game play, while also appealing to those that like a good challenge. The puzzles early on in the game are very intuitive and make a lot of sense. The game play mechanic that sets this game apart from the rest lays within your friend the blob. The blob can transform into many different shapes which help you traverse the levels with ease. The boy, who wields an insatiable supply of jelly beans, can cast different coloured beans around the place for the blob to eat. The blob will quickly eat up the jelly beans that you throw, which prompts it to change into a certain object for you to use at will. 

Early on your blob can change into a ladder, balloon or a small trampoline which you need to use to get through the levels. Early on this is very easy to work out which you will need to use at any given time, with the use of signs around the levels showing the player which shape you will need to use to get through. These signs start to become quite rare as you progress through the game. There are a lot of different shapes that unlock as you make your way through the game. I won't spoil what other shapes there are because I kept getting excited and impressed with the unlocks as I progressed. There is one thing to nitpick at though. There is absolutely no explanation as to why those "shapes" weren't used earlier in the game. The blob just seemingly learns them without any prompting.

In a game with no dialogue, you will tend to rely heavily on sounds and music to provide the mood of the moment. The sounds are delightful and really do set the scenes. The boy has a cute young boy voice which at times can sound a little demanding and rude when beckoning the blob. Sometimes I think "Listen you spoiled little entitled brat, watch your tone". Maybe I am just looking into that too much. I think the boy needs to be nicer to the blob.

The gameplay is extremely satisfying as a platformer and the controls are very solid which is extremely important when you are required to perform platform jumping. The boy can't jump very far or very high on his own, but with the help of his blob friend, the limits are very close to endless. During my time with this game, I could not ever attribute my failures to the game or its controls. Each time I died it was simply a miscalculation on my part. This is a definite advantage when playing a platformer with tight controls. 

Most players will achieve around the 6-10 hours of game play here with a great amount of levels available in different locations. The different environments come at a good time in the game which gives the game a fresh feel, look and challenge. The levels themselves also have the added bonus of replay ability should you miss any of the collectible treasure chests. Most of them are fairly easy to find but I did have troubles with some of them. Usually a spelunk around the levels will sort that out pretty easily.

There are a few boss battles that you will encounter at the end of each world section. These boss battles adhere to the "Rule of Three" in the gaming world. Not unlike the famous Super Mario Bros. you will be required to hit the bosses a total of three times before they will be defeated. The main point of difference here is that it's not just a case of jumping on top of the boss to hit them. You will need to use your blob and also think outside the box to get these completed. Sometimes you will need to use your environment as well as the blob to your advantage. The boss fights gave a really unique way to end an area. They aren't hard to complete, but tricky to find the method.

A Boy and His Blob is an original take on a routine platformer. With the use of the blob and its different shapes/objects that it can morph into, the game takes on a personality of its own that is unique and sets it aside from other side scrolling platformers. 

The overall feel of this game is very satisfying and the journey to the end is fun. There won't be too many rage moments, but you will be tested in some of the levels, especially in the bonus little side levels. They're a doozy. The game plays well and the length is well within a reasonable time frame for its genre and price tag. A Boy and His Blob is a definite recommended game for platformer lovers and casual gamers. Simply put, I enjoyed my time with this game and really appreciate its charm and aesthetic.

Thanks to everyone for reading this review and I hope you get something out of it as well as this wonderful game. Check our Aussie Gamers Express on our Facebook page, YouTube Channel and also if you have the time, have a listen to our weekly podcast.
Lucas Aurelius (LewkOne)
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