A Boy and His Blob Updated Hands-On
We caught up with the bean-powered duo to check out some new levels and abilities.
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Based on the NES classic, A Boy and His Blob has been reimagined by Majesco for a new generation and a new console: the Nintendo Wii. You play as an unnamed boy who befriends an alien blob with shape-shifting abilities. Throughout your quest to get him back to his homeworld of Blobonia and defeat its evil emperor, you feed Blob various coloured jelly beans that transform him into a range of handy items. We recently got the chance to check out some of the later levels in the game and even paid a visit to Blob's house.
The game is divided into four hub worlds. We've seen the forest and swamp areas previously, but this time, we got to see the caves and Blobonia. We're told by Majesco that the final area in the game is called Citadel and will feature a final showdown between the boy and Blob and Blobonia's evil emperor. The main menu has a similar style to Braid, and you can access each of the hub worlds via paintings hung around the boy's house. There wasn't any dialogue or evidence of a storyline in the areas we played, but due to the intrinsic charm of the characters and world, it's easy to form an attachment to these delightful characters.
There are 80 stages in total: Each hub contains 10 regular levels and 10 challenge levels, which are unlocked by collecting special chests. Each level has three chests, and collecting a series of these unlocks a new level. One of the challenge levels required us to use the Blob in jack form to destroy an evil blob, which started a chain reaction and destroyed a string of blobs across the level. Unfortunately, the force of the explosion also destroyed the blocks we were standing on, and we had to race to reach a safe platform.
The cave levels are dimly lit, which contrasts with some of the brightly coloured parts of the game, and it would be impossible to traverse them if it weren't for Blob's bioluminescent ability. By swallowing nearby fireflies, Blob's body will glow with a soft-yellow colour and give you enough light to progress. Despite the visual contrast, the gameplay didn't deviate too much from what we'd seen before and threw a variety of puzzles at us, requiring us to use every bean in our collection. You're given different beans to use in each new level, resulting in a different experience every time.
While Blob has plenty of puzzles to solve, it will also feature some challenging boss battles. We played against a menacing, oversized, doglike blob that attacked us with claws, projectiles, and tentacles on its back. One hit from it will instantly kill you, but Blob can transform into a protective bubble, making you impervious to attacks. In order to defeat it, we had to make three evil blobs fall onto him from above platforms. One of these was achieved by using a hole for the blob to fall through, while we made use of another by pressing a switch to remove a barrier in the way. It may sound easy, but defeating it will require quick thinking and precise timing on your behalf.
There are plenty of forms that Blob can assume to aid you in your quest, including a trampoline, jack, space hopper, shield, balloon, anvil, parachute, and cannon. We got to try some of Blob's new abilities, such as the rocket ship, which lets you pilot him to new areas, and the aforementioned bubble. There's always a specific ability on hand to help you with your current problem, and you have unlimited beans--unlike the original--so you can keep experimenting until you find the right one.
A Boy and His Blob is looking great, and we really like the hand-drawn art style, detailed environments, and interesting characters. We still have some concerns about a few niggling issues, including the game's controls. On a few occasions, we had problems getting the game to recognise our analog-stick input when using the bean selector reticle. Despite this, A Boy and His Blob looks like it will be a fun remake of a classic, and you can find out for yourself when the game is released on November 6.