LRG Essentials: A Boy and His Blob
Let’s talk about jelly beans. They’re delicious. They come in every flavor under the sun: sweet, savory, and tangy. And if you feed them to a blob from outer space, they transform it into new and versatile shapes perfect for solving puzzles.
The original A Boy in His Blob for NES was a standout work noted for its creativity and originality. Designed by the legendary David Crane, co-founder of Activision and inventor of the Pitfall series, the NES version of A Boy and His Blob is known for its fanciful, delightful storyline, adorable aesthetic, and significant challenge. A platforming-style graphical adventure, the puzzles in A Boy and His Blob on NES demand an exacting precision and near-perfect play to finish, much like the early PC adventure games that helped inspire it. It’s a solid, creative game, and one that LRG was happy to offer on cartridge earlier this year.
A while back on the Wii, Wayforward found so much to love in this classic that they used it as inspiration for an entirely new game, one of the sweetest little puzzle platformers you’ll ever encounter. The core elements are all there: a boy, his Blob, and jellybeans that transform the Blob into all kinds of useful devices, but the whole thing is cast in a new, magical, almost Hundred-Acre Wood vibe… a child navigating a mysterious forest with the help of his new best friend. There’s a sense of warmth and melancholy to the whole thing, a play perhaps on Whitman’s “mystical moist night-air… look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.”
It’s an involved game, but a forgiving one, and there’s a gentleness to the whole affair… few penalties for failure, and the inclusion of a mechanically useless but utterly useful hug button. There’s no concrete reward for hugging the blob when he does a good job, but you’ll do it again and again and again, because hugs are good, and sometimes we all need one. That’s the kind of experience this game is. Melancholy notes of childhood discovery blend with a rich palette and extraordinary art direction to create something very special indeed.
By refining and reimagining David Crane’s original creative vision, Wayforward created a game less challenging but incredibly welcoming, a game as warm in its spirits as the hugs it so liberally bestows. I go back to it again and again in dark times, wishing and hoping that adulthood’s big problems and cruel puzzles could be so expertly solved the way the boy and the blob do… by employing friendship and a little wit.
Video games challenge us, ask us questions, divert us, teach us, and occasionally just transport us to impossible places where we could never otherwise go. A Boy and His Blob excels at the latest. It carries us away to somewhere special, where the better elements of childhood wait to be rediscovered: wonder, exploration, friendship, and naive compassion. I wish more games were like it.
A Boy and His Blob is no novelty, though it is novel. There’s more to it than tone… well designed obstacles overcome with the liberal application of delicious candy and a health dose of the power of love. It’s a polished jewel, a standout in the original Wii library, available this Friday through LRG for PS4 and Switch. Kids and grown-ups will find themselves equally entertained by the journey.
Time to hit the hug button.
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