A Boy and His Blob tells the story of an extra-terrestrial, amorphous lifeform and his young handler as they combat an evil emperor, hellbent on doing what all evil emperors want to do: kill most and rule over what's left. The only thing standing in this extreme evildoer's way is the boy's willingness to feed the Blob different jellybeans, which cause him -- it? -- to transform into different shapes, thereby overcoming the game's many obstacles.
After playing the game for a bit, it became clear that I was going to have to give up my need to solve the game's puzzles unsupervised. See, A Boy and His Blob thought that I would be far better off if it held my hand.
Whenever I received a new jellybean to use, the fun of discovering how to effectively use it was taken away from me by the game's almost limitless stockpile of overly helpful signs. Maybe some people -- small children, perhaps; a tenderfoot elder -- will appreciate the elimination of any potential confusion, but the sole reason I wanted to play his game was to solve its puzzles. (Well, that and to hug the crap out of the Blob.)
That's not to say the not-so-subtle hint system was a problem throughout the entire game. There were puzzles and obstacles where I half-expected a sign to ninja-creep into view from behind a tree or climb out of the bottomless chasm I was standing over -- only to be relieved when it didn't happen. It was during these occasions that I really cherished the game as an accessible, enjoyable action-adventure.
1989's A Boy and His Blob for NES was hindered by forcing players to make do with a limited supply of jellybeans. Thankfully, the new A Boy and His Blob features an endless supply of set beans chosen for each level. This switch has made the gamplay far less frustrating than in the original, allowing me to freely feed the Blob and try out each of its shapes. For example, if I needed to dodge a charging enemy, I could feed the Blob a red bean to turn it into a hole and watch the foe fall to certain doom; or I could feed it an orange bean to turn the Blob into a trampoline and simply hop over the charging beastie. There is room for experimentation and no stress from having to constantly keep tabs on an inventory of beans.
A Boy and His Blob is a really good example of how to update a classic; the game feels new, yet retains what fans love about the original experience. The core mechanic of using the Blob to navigate past obstacles and defeat enemies is intact and largely unchanged. Two decades later, the revival is visually stunning -- even without all those high-definition Ps.
A Boy and His Blob also includes classic scenes from the original game that fans will surely enjoy again. Sure, the overuse of puzzle-solving signs was a disappointment, if not entirely annoying to me (and should have been made optional), but that's a small fault when stacked up against a total experience that is far easier to play and genuinely more satisfying than its predecessor.