The format/developer/publisher: Nintendo Wii, developed by Wayforward, published by Majesco Entertainment
The ten-word synopsis: Boy helps adorable alien blob get home using magic jellybeans.
Games boxes are cold and hard. Hugging a game box, especially the sleek, white Wii ones, is not entirely comfortable. However, seeing as it is unfortunately impossible to embrace a boy and his blob (The name doesn’t use any capital letters, that’s not me being lazy) in any other way, it’ll have to do. Wayforward’s adorable little jellybean-based puzzle-platformer is a game you just want to reach out and hug at warmly as you can.Visually, it’s impossible not to love. The hand-drawn graphics seem to find a way to bypass any kind of skin or skeletal structure and pounce right into your heart. The backgrounds alone are so dripping with charm-juice that you can’t help but try and find a particularly cute straw with which to suck any droplets up. It’s a far cry from the proposed DS version, which used weird-looking, ugly psuedo-3D characters, and it really takes it beyond original NES classic, which just looks and feels dated without the iconic stature that is given to its contemporaries such as Super Mario Bros and Metroid.
It’s a far superior game to the NES version, and one of the most refreshing things for anybody who has played the original is the more forgiving approach. Gone are limited lives and finite numbers of jellybeans- You’re given all you need to solve the various puzzles that stand between the boy, the blob and the level exit. You just have to work out how to use them. The inta-death upon contact with an enemy or a nasty fall, though, does hark back to an age of platforming that felt like it had passed, in favour of endless health pick-ups, and is refreshing as a result. For such an adorable game, it has an unhealthy obsession with death. The game is reliant on trial-and-error for the solving of the more fiendish puzzles, and it seems to really enjoy showing the boy die as the blob begins to hop around, meaningless and lost. It’s really quite cruel.
That, though, is a boy and his blob’s main problem. A lot of the blobs’ movements feel meaningless and lost. In order to solve puzzles, you, as the titular boy, throw jellybeans that transform the blob into various objects- a ladder, a trampoline, an anvil, ecetra. All very normal. You then use this object in various ways to get through the level. However, a lot of this is reliant on you throwing the jellybean in the right place, which can be difficult with the imprecise controls, and the blob to get in the right places. Unfortunatly, the AI for the charming alien lump isn’t quite there, and often he’ll dive around and kill himself, or get trapped in pits of no return or just generally try and unmeaningly hinder you. It’s not game-breaking in the grand scheme of things, but you can’t help but feel annoyed each time you have to restart a level because the blob did something stupid.
It’s not that long a game, (8 or 9 hours should get you through the main game with a substantial amount of the hidden treasure chests unlocked) but it’s one that will work its way into even the most anvil-like hearts. This is a game with a hug button, for crying out loud. It’s impossible not to love. It looks like a playable childrens book, but plays like a far smarter, nastier beast. The puzzles are clever and require plenty of quick thinking without too much reflex-testing. It’s a game that anybody could feasibly play. If you fail, it’ll be down to a gap in your logic, even if that gap was brought about by an AI mishap. It’s a really classy platformer, and a game well worth your time, attention and love.
6 jellybean wheels out of 10