One of the great things about the NES era is that developers didn't really know what they could or couldn't do. Sometimes this meant that developers would completely whiff on the execution, like in 8 Eyes. Sometimes, this meant that the crazy risks that would pay off, like in A Boy and His Blob.
I remember going to my local Pick & Save grocery store when I was a young lad of about eight years old and looking through the NES boxes of games I never had any chance of playing. My eyes instantly settled on A Boy and His Blob, just because the idea was so cool. The titular boy has a white blob named Blobert that can transform into different shapes when you give it jellybeans. You can make a ladder, a hole, a jack, a rocket, an umbrella, and other shapes.
Blob was the brainchild of David Crane, creator of Pitfall! and father of the 2D platformer. He hasn't made any games since 1995, so we should all look at him and make sad, frowny faces. What makes Blob so much fun is the ability to experiment with the different beans, then figuring out how to make them work within the world.
There are a few problems with Blob. First of all, the world is barren. You can walk several screens before seeing anything worth interacting with. Also, you only have a limited amount of jellybeans, so if you make lots of mistakes, you can find yourself trapped with no escape but death.
But dang it, there's a jellybean that turns Blobert into a coconut and rolls him along the ground! You can turn your blob into a blowtorch too! I mean, come on! That counts for something!
If you play Blob, don't play it like a typical platformer, expecting to jump on the heads of your enemies and use Blobert as a weapon. Instead, play it like a 90's point-and-click adventure game, where you carefully observe your environment, experiment with the tools at your disposal, then make your move. If worse comes to worst, use an FAQ. Just play it at some point.
Next week: A Nightmare on Elm Street
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