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A Blast from the Past
It’s been 20 years since David Crane’s A Boy and His Blob: Trouble on Blobolonia was released on the original Nintendo Entertainment System. Despite the fact the game is a great title that is often forgotten among the library of classics on the NES, this sequel seems random a chance to capitalize on a familiar franchise. However, the game is fairly amusing after you get a feel for the game’s controls. The gameplay is overall a great nod to what made games so phenomenally successful on many of the 8, 16 and even 64-bit home video game consoles. Hopefully, the success of the Wii title will lead to a release of the original on the Virtual Console.
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Unlike the NES title, an introduction offers some insight into the back story. The blob and the various enemies of the game appear to be some sort of extraterrestrials. The boy lives, apparently alone, in a giant, condominium-sized tree house when he discovers the blob. Where are child protective services when you need them? Anyways, along with your new ally, the goal of the game is to progress through the game, in a linear order, and defeat all enemies while obtaining various upgrades to the blob's ability set.
Like the original classic, the blob can take various helpful shapes based on which jelly bean you feed him. He can take the form of a balloon, ladder, or even a whole in the ground, which as a great way to get around or avoid enemies. As you control the unnamed boy, you'll find yourself incredibly dependent on the blob as your character isn't too quick or agile, you have to hit the jump at the perfect time or you'll miss your target or hit an enemy/obstacle. Fortunately, the enemy AI isn't too bright.
The only caveat I have are the load screens. The load times themselves are not terribly long, but they sure are frequent. Patience is certainly a commodity when it comes to this aspect of gameplay. Another minor issue is that its not always clear where you’re supposed to go or what you’re supposed to do. The linear gameplay is reminiscent of early Paper Mario titles, though its only a 2D game.
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While the graphics are not superb, they are really not intended to be. That said, they are pleasing to the eye in a non-overwhelming way. Think Paper Mario again to get a better idea of what I'm talking about. The background and foreground get similar treatment and the characters have a more dynamic look. Though the graphics are nothing special, they do nothing to detract to the game. If you’re looking at this through merely a classical 2D lens, then they’re perfect. The game sort of looks like a high-end animated feature.
The music is rather good; it helps create a serene environment with the rustic backdrop already boasted by the graphics. The sound effects are nothing out of the ordinary. The music that plays whenever the boy is incapacitated is annoying and given the difficulty of the game, you’re going to hear it quite a bit. Be warned.
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The controls aren’t very fluid, though that rarely is a glaring issue as the game ensues. A lot is being made of the complete and utter lack of the game’s utilization of the Wii’s innovative motion controls. While you could argue the game is not taking advantage of the advances of current video game technology, I felt it was appropriate given this game was really trying to go back to the roots of the 2D platforming game that dominated video games for nearly thirty years.
I am surprised, however, that the game utilizes the Nunchuk. It really seems like the games simplistic enough that the Wii Remote would suffice on its own. That said, using the classic controller is an interesting option as it only further adds to the nostalgic feel of the game.
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All in all, I appreciate what this game tried to do in keeping with the style of gaming that made its predecessor so memorable. While I feel this game is a nice step in the right direction of having a sub-genre of classical-styled 2D games, the controls could have been more polished and the game itself could have provided the user with more insight as to how to navigate the game.