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A Boy and His Blob (NES) artwork

A Boy and His Blob (NES) review

"Half adventure game, half falling-to-your-death simulator."

Have you ever started playing a game and immediately felt completely lost?

Unless you look at the instruction booklet first, that's what will happen the first time you play A Boy and his Blob: Trouble on Blobolonia. The game opens up with a boy and his blob friend standing in front of a detailed cityscape background. Of course, you'll start pressing buttons and experimenting. It won't take you long to figure out that your boy has a cache of multi-flavoured jelly beans to feed to his AI-controlled friend. Each flavour turns the blob into a different object. Tangerine jelly beans, for example, turn him into a trampoline, and cola jelly beans turn him into a bubble. After exploring for a few seconds, you'll make your way into a subway tunnel. After feeding the blob a punch-flavoured bean and turning him into a hole, you'll discover a vast underground cave. Then you'll start dying a lot.

Your ultimate goal in A Boy and his Blob is to travel to the blob's home planet, Blobolonia, to kill the presumably evil emperor. The emperor hates anything healthy. In fact, vitamins are poisonous to him. Naturally, you'll want to stock up on vitamins before facing him, and vitamins are pretty easy to come across, right? Just go to a drug store and buy some. Vitamins cost money, though, and thanks to child labour laws, the boy is broke. That's why he has to explore the caves below the city. He's searching for treasure. After collecting enough treasure and buying some vitamins, he can turn the blob into a rocket, ride him to Blobolonia, and commit regicide.

Of course, none of this is very obvious without looking at outside sources. When you're experimenting with jelly beans at the beginning of the game, there's a good chance you'll just fly to Blobolonia right away and start exploring. You won't be able to accomplish much without some vitamins to shoot at enemies, and the boy is not very resilient. He goes down in one hit from enemies or traps, and thanks to the lack of screen scrolling, they can be difficult to avoid. In fact, you'll be forced to take occasional leaps of faith when exploring the caves. You can sometimes turn the blob into an umbrella to float down, but not always, and if you drop in the wrong spot, you'll simply fall to your death.

The final/only boss is incredibly anticlimactic. It has no animations at all and doesn't do anything but wait to die. Even when it does die, it doesn't have the decency to melt or explode or anything. It simply stands there and you get a single story card congratulating you on “defeating” (re: poisoning) the evil king. Thank goodness for bragging rights, because that's not much of a reward for finishing this super difficult and obtuse game.

The A Boy and his Blob experience is one of trial and error, which often leads to frustration. Bombs can explode from off screen and kill you. If you're not careful, running from one screen to the next will place you right under a falling obstacle with little time change course thanks to the boy's apparently teflon-coated sneakers.

Despite all the frustration, A Boy and his Blob is endearing in a few ways. The blob feels like a companion more than a playable character. Interacting with him and transforming him into things is an interesting concept. He's well animated, especially when hopping after you, or frowning when you try to feed him a jelly bean he doesn't like (eww, ketchup).

The game's presentation is a mixed bag. The backgrounds, especially, range from impressively detailed, to ugly, to just plain empty. The cityscape at the beginning of the game is detailed and the graffiti on the subway walls adds a sense of life to the city. Blobolonia looks odd, though, as if someone took pictures of real life trees and things and simply stuck them in NES graphics filter. That planet makes you long for the black void in the background of the cave, where most of the game takes place.

The soundtrack is limited, with only one song playing for most of the game. The song is catchy and fun, but it resets whenever you use certain jelly beans, which means you'll spend a lot of the game just listening to the intro over and over again. That gets annoying.

A Boy and his Blob is not a particularly well designed game, or very fun, but if nothing else, it's original. You probably won't enjoy this game too much, but it's worth playing around with a bit. It has a few interesting ideas, and if you go into it intending to experience it, rather than actually play it, you may find something of value in it. Unfortunately, it's just not a lot of fun to actually play.


Roto13's avatar
Staff review by Rhody Tobin (March 07, 2013)

Rhody likes to press the keys on his keyboard. Sometimes the resulting letters form strings of words that kind of make sense when you think about them for a moment. Most times they're just random gibberish that should be ignored. Ball-peen wobble glurk.

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