- Nintendo, Gameboy
It's been almost a year since Nintendo gamers were first introduced to Blobert (Blob for short) in A Boy and His Blob from Absolute Entertainment. Blob, a friendly alien, came to Earth seeking help for his home planet, Blobolonia. An Evil Emperor had taken control of Blobolonia and was forcing bad nutrition on the people. Joining forces with a young Earth boy, Blob and his new friend succeeded in overcoming the Evil Emperor and restoring health to Blobolonia.
A Boy and His Blob had all the right ingredients for success: a lovable title character colorful graphics, and absorbing game play that rewarded problem-solving and creativity. By feeding Blob different flavors of jellybeans, you could transform him into various shapes. A tangerine jellybean would turn him into a trampoline; a cola jellybean turned him into a bubble.
A Boy and His Blob was created by acclaimed game designer David Crane. Although this was Crane's first Nintendo game, he's hardly a newcomer to the videogame industry. His game Pitfall! - written for the Atari 2600 in the early 1980s - was the best-selling videogame cartridge of all time in the U.S. and Canada, according to Absolute Entertainment. A Boy and His Blob also sold well and won several awards for Crane.
When a Nintendo game enjoys that kind of success, a sequel is almost guaranteed, and A Boy and his blob is no exception. This time, however, Absolute Entertainment is bringing the adventures of Blobert to the Game Boy. Although the characters and the settings have been shrunk to fit the Game Boy screen, The Rescue of Princess Blobette retains most of the charm and nearly all of the playability of A Boy and His Blob. While there are a few qualities missing from The Rescue of Princess Blobette that helped win so much praise for A Boy and His Blob, the essentials remain unchanged.
The entire game takes place in a castle on the planet Blobolonia. This time around, a character known as the Antagonistic Alchemist is trying to overthrow the Evil Emperor, who was turned good by a megadose of vitamins in A Boy and His Blob. As part of his plan, the Antagonistic Alchemist has seized and caged Princess Blobette, and has locked Blob and the boy in one of the castle's towers. Our heroes' job is clear: to escape from the tower, then find and free Princess Blobette.
As in the first game, you play the young Earth boy and are given a supply of variously flavored jellybeans for changing Blob into useful shapes. Along the way, you can find extra jellybeans as well as new flavors. After figuring out how to escape the tower, you have free run of the castle in your search for Princess Blobette. If you find and free her, you still have to follow her to get to the game's conclusion.
The obstacles and problems you must overcome in The Rescue of Princess Blobette are similar to those in A Boy and His Blob. If you liked the first game's emphasis on experimentation and creativity, you should find this game just as much fun.
One of the nice things about The Rescue of Princess Blobette is that almost every problem has more than one solution. Two different players could easily come up with different ways of getting past many of the obstacles, and that gives the game a lot of variety. When you come to a deep shaft in the castle walls, for example, do you make your descent with the umbrella or the cola bubble? Each method might work, but if you experiment, you'll find that one method always works.
There are a few quirks in controlling your character that take some getting used to. Whenever you enter a new screen, for instance, Blob (who's trailing behind you) will invariably run into you and push you ahead. So if you walk to a ledge, watch out - Blob will accidentally knock you off every time. Moving a short distance can also be tricky, because your character tends to take more than one step, even if you press the directional pad for just a split second. But you'll get the hang of it before too long.
Sometimes Blob needs to be in a particular spot before being changed into an object, and getting him to stop in the right place can be a bit frustrating. There's an easy way around this, though - change Blob into a shape that can be carried, then set him down exactly where he needs to be. Just make sure you save a couple of jellybeans in every flavor.
The graphics in Blobette aren't incredibly detailed, but there's no need for them to be. All of the objects in the game are easily recognizable, and the clean, uncluttered look of each screen helps you keep your mind on what you're doing. The tasteful use of graphics gives the game the look and feel of its NES forerunner - a real compliment for any game adapted for the Game Boy.
The animation hasn't suffered in the translation, either. The Earth boy dashes smoothly through the castle, while Blob bounces happily along behind him. If you lose a life, you can even see a frown appear on Blob's face.
So far, so good. However, so much care and attention went into recreating the wonderful game play of A Boy and His Blob that a few other areas of The Rescue of Princess Blobette seem to have been rushed. For example, take the damsel-in-distress plot. It's a fairly common storyline in videogames, and there's nothing wrong with it, but it's not as endearing and original as the story in A Boy and His Blob.
For the most part, Blobette has a good variety of obstacles and problems to overcome. After playing the game, however, it turned out that several screens yielded lots of extra points, but nothing that was needed to finish the game. If you were trying to top someone else's score, these rooms would be important - but there's neither a two-player mode nor anyplace to record a high score.
Of course, you have to finish the game before you realize which rooms aren't necessary. Hiding crucial items in those rooms or making it necessary to go through them to rescue the Princess would increase the challenge, especially for players who are more intent on solving problems than on scoring points.
Also, the game's final sequence - in which you try to find Princess Blobette, who runs away after you open her cage - is an anticlimax. It's possible that your search could last awhile, but it's just as likely you'll find her within a minute of setting her free. And the Antagonistic Alchemist, who is to blame for the whole mess, is nowhere to be seen.
But these are minor points. Taken as a whole, The Rescue of Princess Blobette is an absorbing game that retains almost all the appeal of its predecessor. Finding Princess Blobette may not be a huge challenge for experienced gamers, but intermediate and beginning Game Boy players should find it rewarding and fun.