Also available on: N/A
Genre: Puzzle Platformer
Developer: WayForward Technologies
Publisher: Majesco Games
The retro remake is becoming increasingly more fashionable in today's world of gaming. Digital Spy looked at some of this year's offerings in its Retro Remakes And Re-imaginings feature a few months ago, and with the year still promising a number of new titles, gamers can definitely expect to see a few more games that tip the proverbial hat to the pixelated past of gaming. The wonderfully named A Boy And His Blob on the Wii is the latest game to give a forgotten classic a new lick of paint and bring it kicking and screaming into the 21st century.
However, while other titles, such as Bionic Commando for instance, have opted for a complete and unrecognisable overhaul, A Boy And His Blob keeps it simple, and gives gamers a chance to see how Pitfall creator David Crane's original vision would have probably panned out with access to greater technology and the beauty that it affords.
A Boy And His Blob sees players control... a boy, who stumbles across... a blob, who happens to have fled his home planet of Blobolonia, which is in danger thanks to a blobby evil emperor. Fortunately, the story plays second fiddle to the puzzle platform gameplay. Very little is made of the plot throughout the game, which makes a change from many titles, which feel obliged to flesh out their tales despite having ridiculous and uninteresting premises.
In terms of gameplay, the adventure starts with the boy waking up in his treehouse, which begins as the game's hub, and going outside to investigate the crashed blob site in the dead of the night. You'll notice instantly that the boy isn't a Mario or Sonic-style platform hero; he can barely jump over small pits, and uses every ounce of sweat to avoid the toxic blobs that kill him in one hit. This is where your blob comes into play. Each level sees you awarded with numerous different jelly beans, which you can feed to blob, making him transform into different tools that you can use to get around in, defeat enemies and solve puzzles with. For instance, while the likes of Mario can plummet off sky high platforms without so much as a scratch, the young boy is sure to meet his demise; feed blob a certain jelly bean however, and he'll fold into a parachute, which you can use to float down to safety. However, the biggest problem with the game's puzzles are that they are made far too easy thanks to the abundance of visual clues dotted around the place. For instance, if a platform is a little too high to reach by jumping, check your jelly beans and you'll see that a certain type makes blob transform into a trampoline, a nice simple puzzle, which is easily solved, but made even easier by the great big trampoline symbol on the sign next to the platform!
While the general aim of the 40 main levels is to get from A to B, with an enjoyable boss fight at the end of every ten levels, there is the additional bonus of treasure chests dotted about each level. Pick these up and you unlock a bonus level, which means that there are up to 80 levels to play through if your treasure hunting skills are up to it. The boss fights are puzzles in themselves, and often require all of your various guises to get through. While the bosses thankfully don't utilise the same visual clue style as the main game, it's kind of obvious what needs to be done thanks to the jelly beans the game equips you with; however, there's still a level of experimentation that needs to be carried out in order to conquer them, and they are a definite highlight of the game.
Another constant highlight is the game's stunning animation and graphics. The art style looks wonderfully hand drawn, and the animation is a joy to behold, with countless little touches all beautifully implemented regardless of how subtle they are. In all honesty though, with each world containing ten stages, plus ten bonus stages, initial impressions were that the backgrounds would become a little tiresome; however, this was soon put to bed with the later stages of the first world and the cityscape setting of the second. The graphics and animation genuinely give the game character, and while it looks a great deal better than the original could have dreamed of, it retains its style, and in that sense is a true reimagining of an old classic.
Perhaps the biggest problem the game suffers from is its simplicity. The visual clues are an irritant and over the top at times. It's true that the creators wanted to make a family friendly title, but it occasionally comes across as a little patronising, and there should at least have been an option to turn the visual clues off, which would have been a simple way to make everybody happy. Another foible comes in the form of the controls. In general they're fine; they're very simple and do the job. However, little things such as jelly bean menu navigation feels a little clumsy, and although nothing's worse than a game that utilises motion controls badly just for the sake of it, one feels as though more immersion and interaction could have been made from the various transformations with a few well implemented motion gestures.
A Boy And His Blob is a very enjoyable game, which is a pleasure to view and to play. The art style, animation and overall character of the title can't be underestimated, and is capable of appealing to all ages. It's a shame that the developers felt the need to hold the player's hand quite so much during the experience, but it still doesn't stop it from being a worthwhile reboot to a charming franchise that's well worth checking out.
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