Tag Archives: platforming

Jellybeans and commands galore in A Boy and His Blob

A Boy and His Blob has been a long time coming in my “need to play” part of my brain. Probably ever since I saw Giant Bomb‘s Quick Look of the game almost ten years ago and listening to the duders there melt into emotional puddles as the boy would hug his newly found Blob friend. That said, I can’t quite remember when I procured my digital copy on Steam, but I finally installed it a few weeks ago and played through a good chunk of the first world, which is set mainly in a forest. Naturally, like the good blob that I am, I have thoughts.

Before we begin, some background. A Boy and His Blob is a puzzle platformer developed by WayForward Technologies and published by Majesco Entertainment. It came out in 2009 for the Wii and, first to my knowledge, is a re-imagining of the 1989 release A Boy and His Blob: Trouble on Blobolonia, which was originally developed by Imagineering for the NES. Eventually, in 2016 and 2017, it made its way on to other consoles and platforms. Evidently, WayForward’s director Sean Velasco was a big fan of the original NES title and wanted to re-create and update the experience for the current generation.

Story-wise, there’s not a whole lot to A Boy and His Blob. The planet Blobolonia is threatened by an evil emperor, and the titular “blob” flees to Earth to find help. It crash-lands on our nifty planet and finds only a young boy out exploring the wilderness. Together, they team up in order to dethrone the evil emperor. Along the way, minions of the Emperor attempt to stop them.

A Boy and His Blob‘s gameplay consists of platforming and solving puzzles, which nine times out of ten relate to platforming or destroying an enemy in your way of a needed platform. The boy can only do so much and must use his Blob companion to accomplish harder tasks. He can feed the Blob various flavored jellybeans that can turn it into a useful item, such as a ladder or trampoline, and I’m not sure how this is happening, but perhaps it was part of the original NES game’s mechanics. You begin the game with only a handful of these jellybean transformations, but as you progress you’ll acquire new ones too. Some levels restrict you to only certain types, which is helpful knowing that you have everything at your disposal to finish the level.

The game is broken up into different areas, each with ten levels to complete. I still haven’t finished the forest one, the first area, but it sounds like there’s also a boss fight at the end these that will put your jellybean abilities to work. In each world, you begin in your rather large hideout where you’ll have a world map to select levels, with your goal simply being to reach the exit portal near the end. There are also three treasure chests hidden in each level for you to locate and pick up using the Blob, which will unlock unique items in your hideout that can be used to play special challenge levels. You can always replay a level if you missed a collectible.

I’m in love with the art and look of A Boy and His Blob, less infatuated with the way the game plays. The cel-shaded graphics bring the environments to life using vivid colors and thick lines. The actual platforming is not as precise as what you’d find in Super Meat Boy or Super Mario Bros. 2–yeah, that’s right–but it is serviceable, especially because the pacing is slow, and you can really take your time to move forward. I hope to, at the very least, finish the first world off and see a boss fight, but I honestly don’t know how much more I’ll play past that. I’m glad I finally gave A Boy and His Blob some time, even if the majority of said time was spent having them hug one another.

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Santa needs your help finding the new year in Where is 2018?

I am the dark, hairy monster-men in Where is 2018?, asking Mateusz Skutnik incessantly where in the world his brand-new game about finding the next darling of a year is…shame on me. I am horrified with myself and reminded greatly of this moment about entitlement issues. Having started this series of his with Where is 2016?, I’ve now come to look forward to playing these wee adorable and free things at the very start of January, in the days between break and work, before everything returns to mundane routine. I need to remember that there is a human being on the other side of these projects, and that art and creation takes time, energy, passion.

Where is 2018? follows the new path set by Where is 2017?, with a gnome-like Santa Claus being the lead hero and some light platforming–which is not ideal with a keyboard, but this isn’t of the same lengths as, say, NieR:Automata, so that’s fine–versus solving puzzles with a point-and-click method. You move through several rooms, moving platforms via levers and jumping to open doorways, all while hairy monster-men watch from the background, stoically asking their one and only question. The games continue to be fun, funny, and super slick in terms of art and animation, and I’ll openly admit that I did get stuck right at the end on the last puzzle, but so long as you keep at it, you’ll figure it out and welcome 2018 with open mitts (hint: windmills).

We are not owed anything, certainly not Where is 2019?…but if Skutnik makes it, I’m gonna play it. Until then, here’s to finding 2018.

2018 Game Review Haiku, #3 – Where is 2018?

Everyone asking
Where is two thousand eighteen?
Santa knows, it goes

For 2018, I’m mixing things up by fusing my marvelous artwork and even more amazing skills at writing videogame-themed haikus to give you…a piece of artwork followed by a haiku. I know, it’s crazy. Here’s hoping you like at least one aspect or even both, and I’m curious to see if my drawing style changes at all over three hundred and sixty-five days (no leap year until 2020, kids). Okay, another year of 5–7–5 syllable counts is officially a go.

2018 Game Review Haiku, #1 – Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack

Eat everything up
Grow, consume, become monster
Planets are tasty

For 2018, I’m mixing things up by fusing my marvelous artwork and even more amazing skills at writing videogame-themed haikus to give you…a piece of artwork followed by a haiku. I know, it’s crazy. Here’s hoping you like at least one aspect or even both, and I’m curious to see if my drawing style changes at all over three hundred and sixty-five days (no leap year until 2020, kids). Okay, another year of 5–7–5 syllable counts is officially a go.

2016 Game Review Haiku, #52 – Beneath the Waves

2016-gd-games-completed-beneath-the-waves

Sun and Sea, no more
Return gifts, avoid cross sharks
Platforming two ways

Here we go again. Another year of me attempting to produce quality Japanese poetry about the videogames I complete in three syllable-based phases of 5, 7, and 5. I hope you never tire of this because, as far as I can see into the murky darkness–and leap year–that is 2016, I’ll never tire of it either. Perhaps this’ll be the year I finally cross the one hundred mark. Buckle up–it’s sure to be a bumpy ride. Yoi ryokō o.

Jables’s Adventure begins with an odd squid for a hat

jables’s-adventure-36

It is difficult for me to write Jables’s Adventure like so and not like Jables’ Adventure, but I’ll simply have to get over my internal dilemma to edit every videogame title to my specificity. I didn’t make the game, Squiddershins did, and despite that weird use of an apostrophe s instead of just an apostrophe, I’m delighted by this little action platformer. The developer describes it as a “casual platformer,” but if my experience with the game’s first boss, an angry woodsman with a chainsaw called Jacques Lumber, has anything to say, it is that this far from a casual experience.

The short of it is this: released in 2010, Jables’s Adventure is a freeware game created by Jason Boyer, with assistance from Ryan Pietz on dialogue and plot items and music by Kevin “Frantic Panda” Carville. You might be tired of this description, but it’s apt–it’s Metroidvania in both look and play, moving a lot like a less-linear Cave Story, and brimming with a surreal sense of humor. Just ask the mushrooms if you don’t believe me. The story’s simple at first, then turns nonsensical, starring a reluctant boy named Jables who one day wakes up…with a squid on his head. He then sets out into the world to do heroic things with a little goading from the talking cephalopod. Why? Well, that’s just what heroes do. You have to be a hero.

It’s a platformer. You jump, move left to right, and, after acquiring these items, shoot your wind-gun at bad critters and infinitely boost in the air with a jetpack. The world is open to explore, though there is a critical path to follow to both obtain these items and deal with the bombastic boss battles. I will continue to cry foul over having to play action platformers on the keyboard, but I didn’t even try to see if there’s gamepad support, so maybe I’m to blame. I kind of doubt it. Thankfully, the amount of precision needed in Jables’s Adventure is miles away from something like Super Meat Boy, but there were a few spots that gave me trouble where playing with a controller might have helped.

One of the first villagers you come across is a young man you can high five. I did this in quick succession, adding my own drum-beat to the already bouncy and catchy soundtrack that plays when you’re exploring the outside, thinking it was nothing more than a fun interaction you can take part in. Turns out, slapping five with this fellow is also how the game saves your progress via checkpoints, and there is no denying that this is Jables’s Adventure‘s defining and greatest feature. Plus, it comes in real handy at the end of the game hint hint wink wink big smile.

Perhaps because this is my first time with a game from Squiddershins or that I don’t have a fondness for things like Adventure Time and Strawberry Shortcake that some of the more random moments just felt like…random moments. Other random moments, like learning facts about fruit or when you make friends with a cactus or discovering that band in the clouds, hit me right in the heart and made the adventure all the more exciting. There’s imagination here and childlike glee, seemingly unlimited, shoved into the mold of a somewhat difficult action platformer that doesn’t have any kind of map to follow. I enjoyed strolling around, meeting new characters, but struggled in the tougher areas, like where you have to use the jetpack to get through a maze and not touch the ceiling or floor due to crystal spike traps.

Looking over the other games from Squiddershins, there’s a bunch I’m eager to try out as soon as possible. Specifically Excuse Me! and Tick Tock Isle. We’ll see how long as soon as possible turns out to be. I feel like I’m starting a pattern, where I discover a studio or bunch of independent developers that I like, only to play one game from their collection before another shiny studio or independent developer steps into the spotlight and demands I pay attention to them. It’s the darkest circle of life.

Castle of Illusion starring the semblance of magical platforming

castle of illusion screenshots_launch_01

A couple weeks back, I had a serious hankering for some Trophy poppin’, and so I scanned my list of already played games to see if any looked easy enough–note that I didn’t say fun enough–to unlock still. My scroll came to a stop on Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse, which I beat some time over the summer and then never really said a word about, save for a mention in the April 2014 edition of the Half-hour Hitbox. Truthfully, there’s not a terrible amount to say about this remake, but I’ll find some words nonetheless.

First, do you know what this game was originally called in Japan? I Love Mickey Mouse: Great Mysterious Castle Adventure. That makes me smile. Second, this was a freebie for PlayStation Plus subscribers back in April, and you also got a digital copy of the original Genesis version to boot, though I’ve only gone through the remake so far. If the remake is any indication of the challenge level for the original, I’ll pass on a second romp through Mickey Mouse’s magical castle.

Let me break down what we’re doing here. Castle of Illusion is a side-scrolling platformer, with Mickey Mouse on the hunt for an evil witch called Mizrabel, who has kidnapped Minnie Mouse in an attempt to steal her youth. Um, I guess she doesn’t realize that Minnie first appeared in 1928’s “Steamboat Willie” short, making her somewhere around 86 years old. Regardless of that hard fact, to stop Mizrabel, Mickey needs to collect seven rainbow gems to build a bridge to the castle tower where Minnie is being held.

So, the platforming is pretty basic, which is understandable when you remember this was all born in a 1990 Sega Genesis cartridge. You move left, you move right, you jump up to platforms, and, from them, to others spaced apart. Mickey’s main attack for dealing with enemies is bouncing on them, but he can also collect projectiles, such as apples and marbles, to throw. You can collect items to restore Mickey’s health or grant him an extra life–much like with recent Mario titles, extra lives are pointless–and then there’s a handful of collectibles in each world, such as diamonds and chili peppers for Donald Duck. No, I don’t understand it either. Every third level in a themed world ends in a boss battle against one of Mizrabel’s henchmen, and only the final spout against Mizrabel herself proved challenging, though maybe frustrating is the better descriptor.

For Trophies, I still needed to do a few things, but figured since the platforming was so simple and the levels were extremely short, it wouldn’t be a big hassle. Turns out, it wasn’t a big hassle. I used a spoiler-free guide to point me in the right direction for getting all the magic playing cards, chili peppers, and castle statue pieces. I even managed to jump on seven enemies in a row without hitting the ground, though it took a few attempts. By the end, I got all the Trophies save for one, which asks you to collect all 800 diamonds. I stopped at, ironically, though not to you, 713 of them and don’t have the energy left to find the remainder, which are now scattered across multiple levels. For instance, one early level has only three left to find, but I’ve gone through it multiple times now to no avail. There are better things to collect in other games, like feathers in Assassin’s Creed II or exotic foods in Tomodachi Life.

If you’re a Disney fan and are looking for a light, breezy platformer, by all means, play Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse. Certainly play it ten times before ever even thinking of touching Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion. But I wanted more, especially in a remake. More challenge, more variety to the given variety. I know there might not have been much to work with from the original title, but remakes have wiggle room. There’s an illusion here, for sure, but it’s only that you’re actually playing the same game from 1990, now with Trophies tied to tasks.