A Boy and His Blob

A Boy and His Blob is a game about a boy, named “Boy”, and his pet blob that can turn into different things based on what kind of jellybeans you feed it.  For example, feeding the Blob an apple jellybean causes it to turn into a jack, and giving it a coconut jellybean turns him into a coconut.  It’s a puzzle game of sorts – you use the different forms of Blob to overcome various obstacles that you will encounter.  For example, you can turn him into a ladder to climb onto things, or turn him into a trampoline to bounce up high enough to kill yourself.  Or you can turn him into a coconut, pick him up, and throw him off a cliff.  Then you won’t have to share your jellybeans anymore.

As interesting as the premise may be, A Boy and His Blob is atrocious, almost to the point of being confrontational.  The Boy dies as soon as he is touched by an enemy or has a long fall, yet runs around like he’s on ice, sliding and skidding his way to all kinds of frustrating deaths.  To make matters worse, the Blob can into several different things that, when not used properly, will kill the boy.  It’s like having a homicidal manic for your best friend.  To top things off, the music in A Boy and His Blob sounds like it was composed by forcing a cat to walk across a synthesizer.

Terrible gameplay aside, it’s not hard to see how a game like this gets a cult following.  It is certainly unusual, and in a hobby that sees 100 copycats for every new idea, there are a lot of people who automatically associate “different” with “good”.  This also makes it easier to accuse people of not understanding the game when they point out the fact that it sucks.  “No, no, the game is great,” they will say “you just don’t understand it.  You have to feed the jellybeans to the blob.  Did you try that?”  Well, let’s see – there’s only two buttons in the game, one calls the blob over to you and the other throws jellybeans into his gaping maw so, yeah, I did think of that.  Your game still blows.

Upon starting a game of A Boy and His Blob, the first thing you will notice is that entire town that the boy lives in consists of his house, a subway station, a manhole, and a Health Food store that sells jellybeans but will only open its doors to people who have 22 pirate treasures.

I want you to stop for a second and read that sentence again, because it really takes two readings for the insanity to sink in.

Placing a subway station being placed in a town that only has one resident may seem kind of unlikely, but it’s important to the plot.  Once you are in the station, you can give your blob a punch jellybean, and he will turn into a hole (which blatantly defies physics) that you can fall through. Nine times out of ten, you’ll go through the hole and start falling through some caves that look suspiciously like levels from Pitfall 2. I say “suspiciously” because David Crane designed both games.  I’m not saying he recycled the levels, but considering that I’m one of only three people ever played Pitfall 2, I will say that almost nobody would have noticed if he had.

Anyways, after falling past several screens of caves, the boy will eventually hit the ground and die.  This is what the majority of A Boy and His Blob’s gameplay consists of – sitting by helplessly and watching the boy fall to his death.

However, once in a great while, you will only fall a short distance and actually survive. Then you’ll be in the caves, where you get to blindly fall through more holes and hope for the best.  Sometimes you’ll land safely and get to plant another hole, and sometimes you’ll fall very far and make the blob very sad.  Since you can’t see what’s below you, it’s all a matter of luck. The whole thing is kind of like a slot machine where if when you win all you get is to play again for free, and if you lose the casino employees get to throw you off the roof.

Assuming you subject yourself to this torture long enough to collect all the treasures scattered around the caves, you can enter the Health Foods store and buy some new kinds of jellybeans.  After that, you can give the blob a root beer jellybean so he’ll turn into a rocket, which you can ride to his homeland, Blobolonia. Actually, you get the root beer jellybean right at the beginning of the game, so you can go there any time you want.  However, if you don’t go to Health Food store first, you won’t have some of the essential items that you will need in Blobolonia.  Without them, you will die before you can get very far. This shows just how poorly the game is designed – the root beer jellybeans could have been one of the new items you get at the store. That way, you’d have to collect all the treasures BEFORE you can even go there, which would prevent a whole bunch of frustration and unnecessary deaths.  But hey, what do I know?  David Crane is a game design genius; I’m just some guy who writes for a website.

There is another reason that it might have been wise to prevent anyone from being able to go to Blobolonia right away, and that is because it marks the point at which the programmers gave up trying and started drinking heavily. The caves under the subway may have been an unenjoyable ordeal of falling through holes and hoping there wasn’t a huge pit under them, but at least the puzzle solving was logical.  In Blobolonia, you basically just feed your blob at random and hope for the best. For example, there are bouncing marshmallows that pound you to death when you run under them.  You might think the umbrella would shield you from this assault, but no – the correct thing to do is to turn the blob into a coconut and throw him past the marshmallows. Why? Because the people who made this game hate you, that’s why.  Oh, and don’t forget, the Boy loses a life every time an enemy touches him, so after a few failed experiments, it’s game over and back to the caves with you.  There are no continues.

Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?

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