Crispy Gamer

E3 2009: The Five: A Boy and His Blob

The 10-Cent Tour: David Crane's cult NES puzzle-platformer, A Boy and His Blob, gets a long-overdue reboot on the Nintendo Wii.

1. The very first thing that strikes you about the game is the beautiful 2-D art and animation. Each area features its own hand-drawn backgrounds, complete with 10 to 12 layers of independent scrolling for a deeper look. The team estimates thousands of frames of animation have been made for an extremely smooth, rounded look reminiscent of "Winnie the Pooh," "The Iron Giant" or, more recently, gaming's Wario Land: Shake It!

2. Much like the original A Boy and His Blob, the remake is all about using the blob's jellybean-fueled transformations to solve puzzles. There are 15 different transformations in all, some old, some new, all horribly punny. For example, a punch-flavored jellybean created a hole (hole punch ... get it?). Also making their punny return from the original game: the tangerine trampoline, licorice ladder and apple jack.

3. The team at WayForward is going for a completely organic game design. That means "no interface, no text, no tutorials, no contrivances," according to lead designer Sean Valesco. Everything you need you can learn from context via the game's early puzzles or from hand-drawn signs in the background.

4. To balance between different groups of gamers, the 40 standard levels will be augmented by 40 shorter, harder "challenge" levels that bring in old-school platforming mechanics like moving platforms, crushing gears and so forth. The game will be "slow to ramp up but hard to finish," according to Valesco.

5. When Blob falls too far behind, Boy can call him to his side with an endearing, echoey cry of "Blooooob" that reminded me of Ico. Need even more sacharine sweetness in the two protagonists' relationships? "I think we're the only game with a dedicated hug button," said Valesco. I think that says a lot.

The Crispy Forecast: Fair to partly cute.