A Boy and His Blob (Wii) – Charm Offensive

The readers post their own reviews.
theenglishman
Posts: 31
Joined: November 24th, 2017, 9:22 pm

A Boy and His Blob (Wii) – Charm Offensive

Postby theenglishman » November 25th, 2017, 10:37 am

The original video review was posted on November 19th; I have plans to do new reviews every other Sunday. My next review will be posted December 3rd. Any feedback on this review would be greatly appreciated :)

Mild spoiler warning for both the video and text review.

~~~

A Boy and His Blob (Wii)
Rating: 4/5 (Mostly Positive)


VIDEO REVIEW:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZjFWFjNECbQ


INTRO
A Boy and His Blob for the Nintendo Wii modernizes the unforgiving nature of NES platforming, expanding on the jelly-bean mechanics from the original games, and a difficulty curve that's a little sharp but encourages players to keep fighting on. The end result is a rather good platformer with beautiful art, expressive animation, and gameplay that's challenging while removing most of the controller-throwing frustration of yore.

A Boy and His Blob may not be the best platformer on the Wii, but it's certainly the most adorable.

STORY
A Boy and His Blob is, shall we say, not very heavy on narrative. It's your classic "boy meets blob, boy and blob become friends and fight back alien invasion, boy turns blob into a rocket and travels to blob's home planet" story. You know, that old cliché. All kidding aside, this game focuses more on the titular protagonists and the bond they develop over the course of the game, rather than trying to explain how everything happened. So if you're wondering why this kid seemingly has no parents, or why the levels set on Earth aren't flooded with Child Protective Services Workers looking for a missing six-year-old boy, you're not going to find any answers – nor is that really the point of the story. This is a game that makes you feel like a little kid who's in way over his head, and can't survive this invasion of oddly adorable aliens without his new friend.

PRESENTATION
Let's get the most obvious point out of the way first: this game is absolutely gorgeous. WayForward Technologies really seem to have a thing for using hand-drawn animation in their games, and A Boy and His Blob is no different. A Boy and His Blob has a dream-like art style inspired by the anime films of Studio Ghibli, with wonderfully detailed backgrounds and expressive sprite work for both boy and blob, as well as enemies and some deliciously grotesque bosses.

The cute but imposing monster design, as well as the gradual shift from ideal green paradise to dark, hellish landscapes, all do a great job of painting a story more effectively than pages of collectible lore. The soundtrack by Daniel Sadowski does a lot to enhance this mood, with music ranging from bombastic orchestral pieces to atonal, almost electronic tracks.

If there's one nitpick I have about the game's presentation, it's that there's no special animation from the Blob if the Boy dies during gameplay. I guess one could argue that the Blob has many dog-like tendencies and thus wouldn't be able to immediately tell that its friend/owner has keeled over and died, but even so, it's quite obvious that the Blob's AI doesn't change *at all* during the Boy's death. Normally this wouldn't be a notable problem, but since the entire game centres on the Boy and Blob directly interacting with each other, it seems like an unfortunate omission to what is otherwise some spectacular spritework.

GAMEPLAY
Much like the NES original and its Game Boy sequel, A Boy and His Blob has you using the Blob's shapeshifting powers to solve puzzles and defeat enemies. In each level, you're given a set of jellybeans, with each flavour causing the Blob to transform into something different. The Blob's forms range from mundane objects like a ball, a ladder, an anvil, a jackscrew or a trampoline, to weirder items like a cannon, a rocket ship, a bouncy exercise ball, some sort of supersonic hamster wheel, and even a doppelganger of the Boy himself who copies your every move, along with a few others I'm not going to spoil.

The game is split up into four worlds, with every world having a Braid-style treehouse hub world where you can move around, choose your next level, or just look at the various unlockable decorations. Most of the game's 40+ levels are linear, with an emphasis on puzzle-solving and indirect combat, but every level also has three hidden chests. Find all three chests in a stage and you unlock a challenge map, effectively doubling the number of levels in the game.

Platforming with the Boy is intentionally underwhelming in order to put more emphasis on using the Blob's powers, but the Boy still controls decently, even if he can't jump very far. The level design is also quite good, and puzzles are well-telegraphed. There were very few places where I didn't know what to do or where to go, though one notable example was this setpiece in level 3-9. You come across a door that, in previous levels, was opened by pressing a switch, except here there's no switch in sight. As it turns out, the switch is at the bottom of the instant-death water directly to the left of the door, and you need to turn the Blob into an anvil and have him press the switch. At no point prior to this level has there been any need, or even an indication, that the Blob could survive underwater, and the gimmick rarely shows up again.

There are two other major issues I wanted to bring up. First, the menu for selecting a jelly bean type is circular and seems to have been designed for an eight-way directional pad, yet there's no option to use a D-pad for the menus, even when playing with the Wii's Classic Controller. As a result, you're left fiddling with an extremely demanding menu that won't recognize your analog stick input because you were a few degrees off, and it quickly becomes frustrating.

The other big issue is the Blob's AI. It's fairly obvious that the Blob was meant to be stupid to a degree, as some puzzles are actually designed around the Blob's inability to reach the Boy, but I think that WayForward may have taken it too far. It's not uncommon to see the Blob jump too high and out of reach, fall down while reaching forward for a jelly bean, or otherwise get himself stuck, and while he does have the ability to teleport to the Boy's side by turning into a balloon, the animation is slow and clunky.

I wanted to get these issues out of the way, because despite these obvious flaws, I enjoyed the gameplay, especially the Challenge Maps, which are difficult in the best possible way. I like how the combat, especially the boss fights, involve courting the AI into making stupid decisions, which makes victory all the more satisfying, and many of the puzzles, especially the ones involving the Boy's doppelganger, are genuinely clever. I may go back and 100% this game one of these days, who knows?

CONCLUSION
A Boy and His Blob is a fairly good platformer with wonderful art. Even issues with the AI and a fussy menu system couldn't take away from my enjoyment of the game, and I recommend checking it out when you get the chance. And it actually turns out that this game received an HD makeover last year for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC, so pick your platform of choice and get that jelly-bean throwing arm ready!
Last edited by theenglishman on November 25th, 2017, 8:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
scotland
Posts: 2273
Joined: April 7th, 2015, 7:33 pm

Re: A Boy and His Blob (Wii) – Charm Offensive

Postby scotland » November 25th, 2017, 3:36 pm

Nicely done. Welcome to the forums, and I think you'll find some people here who will appreciate your reviews.

For those of you who do not want to watch the video, the text of the review above is the dialogue from the video. I found the video capture sharp, and the narration clear and at a good pace. I like the absence of gimmicks or a long intro splash sequence.

My first discussion point is if a 5 point scale is going to work for you. You have done a lot to break the game down, and this game does indeed have far more positive elements mentioned than negative. Would a minor tweak, such as keeping a base 5 point system, but translating it to a letter scale and allowing plus or a minus to slightly adjust it? So that this game could be a B-, a B, or a B+ (reads like a B+). Since your goal seems to be to do a lot of reviews, a more granular rating system may help readers looking at them collectively.

theenglishman
Posts: 31
Joined: November 24th, 2017, 9:22 pm

Re: A Boy and His Blob (Wii) – Charm Offensive

Postby theenglishman » November 25th, 2017, 5:37 pm

Thank you for the feedback, scotland! I used to post in the forums years ago, back when I was still in high school, and it's great to see that the community is bigger than ever now.

scotland wrote:I like the absence of gimmicks or a long intro splash sequence.

I plan for later to reviews to include some gimmicks, but they'll be few and far between, and relatively short. Don't worry though, I'll make sure not to make them too grating! I put a lot of effort into the video parts of the reviews, so it's nice to see that someone's looking through them.

Incidentally, do you know if the VGC board has code for embedding YouTube videos? I tried a few commands I knew of from other phpBB boards but they don't seem to work here.

scotland wrote:Since your goal seems to be to do a lot of reviews, a more granular rating system may help readers looking at them collectively.


On my YouTube channel, I have playlists that sort not just by console, but also separate playlists for each Verdict ranking.

My grading system was originally going to serve as an "in name only" five-star system – Positive, Mostly Positive, Neutral, Mostly Negative and Negative. In theory, it's the same as five stars, but the category wording is vague enough that they're generalizations that reflect how I feel about the game. Initial viewer response was mixed, and they wanted to see something more conventional, so I decided to compromise instead and use my initial ranking system as descriptions for each star. I appreciate your idea about the grading system, though.

User avatar
scotland
Posts: 2273
Joined: April 7th, 2015, 7:33 pm

Re: A Boy and His Blob (Wii) – Charm Offensive

Postby scotland » November 25th, 2017, 7:40 pm

For embedding the youtube video, the code you used (simple URL link) is what I've used as well. The size of images that you can upload is quite small, so its reasonable the Critic is mostly limiting the forums to text for size. Most of us just link to images and videos.

If you want to have the URL link pop a bit, try using options like bolding, font colour, or size options.

theenglishman
Posts: 31
Joined: November 24th, 2017, 9:22 pm

Re: A Boy and His Blob (Wii) – Charm Offensive

Postby theenglishman » November 25th, 2017, 8:19 pm

scotland wrote:If you want to have the URL link pop a bit, try using options like bolding, font colour, or size options.


Thanks again for the suggestion. I changed the sizing options, and now the post just needs to be verified again.

User avatar
Atarifever
Posts: 460
Joined: April 12th, 2015, 5:55 am

Re: A Boy and His Blob (Wii) – Charm Offensive

Postby Atarifever » November 25th, 2017, 8:48 pm

What an absolutely fantastic review! I watched the video and immediately subscribed. This one just showed up at my local game store (for $12.99 or something) and it looks like I should pick it up.

Until now, I hadn't watched much about it. Am I the only one who thinks it looks to have a lot (a lot) in common with The Last Guardian, just in 2D. The art style, the "somewhat dumb pet" dynamic, with a little kid and magic friend who helps his poor platforming ability immediately remind me of stuff I've seen from that game (with this one releasing first). Even the calling for pet noises remind me of The Last Guardian.

theenglishman
Posts: 31
Joined: November 24th, 2017, 9:22 pm

Re: A Boy and His Blob (Wii) – Charm Offensive

Postby theenglishman » November 25th, 2017, 9:14 pm

Atarifever wrote:Am I the only one who thinks it looks to have a lot (a lot) in common with The Last Guardian, just in 2D.


I don't own a PlayStation 4 (not yet anyway), but from what I've seen of The Last Guardian, the two games certainly feel similar. When I played through A Boy and His Blob, the biggest inspirational vibes I got (aside from the original NES game obviously) were cinematic platformers like Flashback and Another World, where you could get away with massive difficulty spikes because checkpoints are everywhere - and obviously the treehouse hub worlds are similar to Braid's (which had come out the year before this game) but with more interaction.

As for The Last Guardian, given how long it was apparently in development, it's possible Fumito Ueda could have taken inspiration from both the original Blob for NES and the Wii remake. Who knows?

User avatar
VideoGameCritic
Site Admin
Posts: 11755
Joined: April 1st, 2015, 7:23 pm

Re: A Boy and His Blob (Wii) – Charm Offensive

Postby VideoGameCritic » November 26th, 2017, 1:08 pm

Nice review. Like the writing style! You make the reader feel like they are playing the game with you.
Too many "professional" reviews out there make the reader feel like an outsider, viewing the game from a distance.

theenglishman
Posts: 31
Joined: November 24th, 2017, 9:22 pm

Re: A Boy and His Blob (Wii) – Charm Offensive

Postby theenglishman » November 26th, 2017, 6:00 pm

Wow, praise from the Critic himself! I’ve been a fan of yours since the mid 2000s and recently rediscovered your site - I’m so happy to see that your forum community is bigger than ever.

Now I’m really nervous about my next review, which has a decidedly negative opinion of a game the Critic ranked rather high :cry:

I will say, however, that writing my second review has so far been a great experience. I’m putting a lot more effort into the video review, as well as trying to write a negative review that’s critical without going into full-on AVGN curse-a-thon rant mode.


Return to “Reader Reviews”