Tag Archives: WayForward Technologies

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.

Watch Shantae whip and save Sequin Land from evil pirates

gd impressions shantae pirate's curse

I’ve never played a Shantae game, so I thought that, naturally, the best place to start is with Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse, the third game in the series. Naturally. Look, it’s the only one I have in my entire collection, and I’d rather start somewhere than deal with the silly impairment in my brain that demands I begin all videogame series at the very start and only play through them one after the other, completing each one as fully as possible to truly get the ultimate gaming experience. It’s an exhausting, never-ending battle that I’d love to watch crumble and blow away in the wind, but that day is not yet on the horizon. Or is it? I mean, this is a small chip in the mountain, but I am at least taking action.

The story in Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse sure is something, and I’ll do my best to get all the whimsical details right. So, Shantae is adjusting to life as a human post-genie, but wakes up to the sound of cannon fire one morning. Turns out, Scuttle Town is being taken over by the Ammo Baron, who, after a brief scuffle, reveals that he purchased the town from Mayor Scuttlebutt and is legally now its new mayor. Shantae’s arch-nemesis Risky Boots accuses her of robbing her of henchmen and other valuable items, but now they are teaming up to take on the Pirate Master, a powerful evil tyrant who is attempting to revive himself while simultaneously placing a curse on many of the world’s critters. Yeah, sure. To stop this all from happening, Shantae needs to destroy a specific number of dens of evil because videogames.

Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse is one of those Metroidvania, 2D action side-scrollers you have all probably heard about by this point in time, though I’m still having a hard time deciding if it is more Metroid or more Castlevania. Its whimsical story and goofy sense of humor makes it hard to place in either category, plus those sultry sprite animations. Instead of whipping a whip at enemies, Shantae whips her hair with extreme force. She can also jump, dash backwards, perform a super kick, and fire a pistol shot, resulting in a versatile action heroine capable of handling whatever is thrown at her, whether it be frog fish, wetmen, or cacklers. Basically, this is all one needs to complete dungeon puzzles and open up new areas of the world to explore. You also have an inventory, and this is where potions, monster milk, and bento boxes go, all of which are easily accessible via the touchscreen on the Wii U gamepad…though I prefer to leave it on the map screen for quick navigation.

So far, Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse is a good platformer that I am playing in short bursts, like between big moments in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild or while waiting for that latest Nintendo Direct to start. There’s always progress to be made and, if not, I’m okay grinding for money so I can purchase new moves for Shantae. Though I am finding the number of enemies that magically pop up/appear right before Shantae and damage her to be ultra annoying. Also, in the second level, there is a sequence that involves carrying Shantae’s zombie friend Rottytops through a monster-infested forest where a single collision means death. It mixes up the gameplay, but the penalty for messing up and ramp in difficulty is surprisingly, especially so early on in the game.

I’ve put in under two hours so far into Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse, and the Internet is telling me that it is about eight hours or so to complete the main campaign, with a few more to boot if one wants to gather all the squid hearts and hidden collectibles. Here’s hoping I stick with it a bit longer to see credits roll because I am enjoying it though it is not the second coming of Super Metroid. I’m not sure if anything ever will be.

I cannae pogo jump consistently in DuckTales Remastered

ducktales remastered ps3 thoughts

I have no nostalgia for DuckTales on the NES. I can’t; I’ve never played it. Like many other classic NES titles, such as Blaster Master, Kid Icarus, and Bionic Commando, since I never had a Nintendo Entertainment System as a kid and had limited access to cool kid neighbors with the console, I missed out on a lot. Thankfully, due to the industry’s love for remaking and re-releasing oldies and better access to ports these days, I’m catching up. Slowly. For example, I beat both Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake last year, tough as they got. I’m also progressing at a snail’s pace in The Legend of Zelda, but more on that in another post.

Alas, I don’t actually know and have to assume that gameplay in DuckTales Remastered is relatively the same as the NES original. Scrooge only has a few abilities at hand, such as jumping, pogo jumping, and whacking objects with his cane. All of these mechanics are relatively simple to use, though I am far from a pro at continuously pogo jumping from one side of the screen to the other; Scrooge often lands on the edge of a platform, causing him to, well, land, and put his cane away. Anyways, through these limited abilities, you’ll hop around a series of level, bouncing on the heads of enemies, unearthing treasure, and collecting whatever maguffin is needed to open up the level’s final boss.

From what I’ve read, it seems like all the original 8-bit levels from the NES days are here–Amazon, Transylvania, The Moon, etc. Except now they are remastered, which means they are colorful and cartoony and a little jarring at times. I found the juxtaposition of sprites and polygonal items (like that treasure chest in the image above) to be constantly at odds with one another. I mean, sure, it looks prettier than what came out in 1989, but I actually think screenshots for that dinosaur still hold up really well. If anything, I’d say more attention was paid in the remastered version on backgrounds, which really help sell the levels more. The Amazon looks and feels like a jungle opposed to some blades of grass and a bland blue sky. That said, while the levels look different, purists can probably breathe a sigh of relief as the map layouts are the same.

However, WayForward Technologies has added an actual story to what was, I’m assuming, a pretty lifeless story. Or totes nonexistent. Basically, Scrooge McDuck has to find five priceless artifacts. Why? Well, um, he’s a greedy ol’ man-duck. A map left behind after a failed Beagle Boy raid of his bank reveals five locations to scour. Despite a still paper-thin plot, there’s a surprisingly amount of cutscenes to get through, a few of which do feel unnecessary and invasive. Same goes for some of the cameos, though I could never say anything negative about Fenton Crackshell, also known as Gizmoduck. I understand the original voice actors returned to reprise many of the roles, and while that’s awesome, it didn’t result in great performances; Scrooge himself sounds tired, uninterested, and going through the motions.

At this point, I’ve only completed two of the five levels, specifically the Amazon and the Himalayas. I’ll get to the others soon, but I kind of have been just nibbling at DuckTales Remastered in-between using shivs on Clickers in The Last of Us and getting heavily back into Rogue Legacy thanks to it being one of this month’s free PlayStation Plus downloads. Money you earn in every level can be spent to buy concept art and soundtrack songs, as well as fill up Scrooge’s money bin to the brim; I’ve not felt inspired to purchase many pieces of concept art. I won’t get too far into here, but I’m generally of the mindshare that concept art is not a reward, not something characters should be unlocking or purchasing. It should be there, probably before the credits option. That’s it.

Maybe I’d be more gushing if I had played DuckTales as a wee lad and spent hours unearthing every single hidden gem, that this reheat of a much-loved classic was everything and then some, but no. I wasn’t very impressed with another remake as of late either–Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse. Perhaps developers need to reconsider the reasons behind taking older games and putting them in new clothes and ponder if it is worth all the dressing up or not. For DuckTales Remastered, so far, I’m thinking no.