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A Boy and His Blob - Angry Video Game Nerd (AVGN)

The Nerd: Back in the day, it was all about Nintendo Power. You get that shit in the mail and it was like "Hot damn!" It was this issue right here, it was the first spring of the '90s and this is when I first heard of the game. But I'm not talking about that one on the cover, we're going deeper into those pages further into the ass crack of gaming history. There it was, A Boy and His Blob, having already been released in '89. I didn't know if this game had anything to do with the '50s monster movie The Blob, but one thing was clear, it had a lot to do with jelly beans. I never forgot this page seeing all those different colors. I didn't process what it all meant, but it definitely made me want jelly beans. Then I saw that illustration of that kid dropping jelly beans into the mouth of a white Slimer-looking blob dude, with his mouth gaping like "Yum, Yum, Yum, Yum!" What the hell was this game about?

The Nerd: The designer and programmer was David Crane, who worked at Atari and became one of the co-founders of Activision. He made graphics for Kaboom, but he was best known for Pitfall and Pitfall 2: the Lost Caverns which was loosely remade on the NES, as Super Pitfall. I already talked about that one: Super Shitfall! And I very briefly touched upon A Boy and His Blob in my Wish List episode, part two. But this game is such a bizarre curiosity piece, it's unique, puzzling and equally fascinating. So I think it might be worth playing through the whole game... or not.

(The game inserts on the NES, then we see the title screen, which resembles with a variation of the Indiana Jones theme.)

The Nerd: Oh, no! Not Indiana Jones! Why did it have to be Indiana Jones?! The title font, the music. it's a full-fledged Indie spoof! So the game starts up and, if you were a kid when this came out, you didn't have half a clue what you were supposed to be doing. I rented it from the video store and while I might have been too impatient to always read the manuals, keep in mind... It was the video store! They never came with the manuals! Because someone always rented it and never returned the manual. Yeah, I mean, it begs the question: Who are all these people going around snatching NES manuals? Do they still have them? Bring them back! Yeah, you can cleanse yourself for your sins, walk into the sight of the old video store. Whether it's a laundromat, a bar, or a nail salon, just walk in there, put that manual on the floor and walk out... a new person.

The Nerd: So you just had to mess around. You select jelly beans from your inventory, you throw them to white slimer and what happens? He transforms. The honey flavor turns him into a Hummingbird, Apple turns them into a Jack, "Apple Jack"? (Scoffs) Vanilla is Umbrella, Cinnamon is... Blow Torch? Um, like the Blow Torch in Home Alone, the movie! Like, Cinnamon! Not Cinnamon, Cinnamon, man. Okay, admittedly, this is a lot of fun. You'll probably kill 30 minutes just trying out all the jelly beans in different places to see what happens and how this little guy interacts with the environment.

The Nerd: So the blob character official name, "Blobert", is from outer space and must have been partially inspired by The Blob or better yet, the Stuff! Yeah, remember the Stuff? But actually, I heard that David Crane said in interviews that the inspiration was a Hanna-Barbera cartoon called The Herculoids, specifically, the characters Gloop and Gleap. But it also draws a very strong connection to a certain '80s movie, where a young kid becomes friends with an alien visitor who also eats candy. You know what movie I'm talking about? Mac and Me.

Mac: Bloop, bloop.

The Nerd: Blobert may not seem totally original, but the idea of an AI controlled character following you around was trailblazing. At the time, this was state-of-the-art, futuristic mind-blowing shit. It's like, I'm playing the game with a friend. But there is no friend here, Uh-uh there's nobody else here besides me. The second controller isn't even plugged in! Wha-wha-what's going on, man?!

The Nerd: Whether or not, Blobert is a very good AI controlled character is a whole other question. If you think about it, the entire game is an escort mission. Instead of being free to move around as you please, you have to keep stopping and waiting for him to catch up. Come on, man! Move your slow ass! Well there is one way to make him catch up, you drop the Ketchup-Flavored Jelly Bean. (He laughs and scoffs a bit) Ketchup. (He laughs and scoffs again) Ket-chup. (Sighs)

The Nerd: So what's the goal here? Well, Blobert comes from the Planet Blobolonia, which is ruled by an evil Emperor who forces everyone to eat only junk food. Blobert needs the boy's help to defeat the Emperor. The only way to defeat him is with healthy food, more specifically, vitamins. Where'd you get the vitamins? The vitamin store, but you need money. How do you get the money? By exploring underground caverns, looking for treasure chests and diamonds. Wow. How did all this stuff get here? Did a bunch of pirates hide it all, in this area which became a populated city? Whoever built the Subway tunnels and sewers never noticed there's a shit ton of treasures. The diamonds alone are as big as the kid. If you found just one of those, then you found the largest cut diamond in the world and not just one, a whole bunch of them! All to buy a jar of vitamins. Imagine walking into a CVS, you grab the vitamins from the counter, you bring it to the cashier, that'll be $10.99. Okay, and then... (He thursts) BAM!!! YOU JUST SLAM THAT FUCKING TREASURE CHEST ON THE COUNTER! There's one gold coin, just spinning around as the cashier awkwardly stares!

The Nerd: So, as you're running around searching for these treasures, you'll notice there's a surprising lack of enemies. I mean, this is an NES game after all. Shouldn't there be a million things trying to kill you? It's screen after screen of nothing! The truth is, this game could have used more time to finish developing. The story goes that David Crane had only six weeks to finish it. Well, I think this game took way too much inspiration from E.T.

The Nerd: The only thing that can really be considered an enemy is some kind of worm. But it doesn't even come after you. If you go near it, it's your fault! Couldn't keep your hands off that treasure, huh? Then there's a spider web without any spider enemy whatsoever. The spider left that web for you just so you can run into it, die, and feel like a dumbass. You gotta use the blow torch. All the other hazards are environmental. If you fall from too high, well, oops! Fuck that one up. You got to use the umbrella. Water, well, that one's a given. It wouldn't be an NES game if water didn't kill you. You got to use the cola bean to make a bubble, which is harder to control than the submarine in Earthworm Jim. But watch out for the stalagmites and stalactites, those are fatal to the touch as well. So the game makes you feel bad because it's you who did it nothing's really out to kill you, you're out to kill yourself. Idiot.

The Nerd: So here, I'm going to use the punch-flavor jelly bean to turn Blobert into a hole. Heh. Get it? Punch... hole? (Player falls in the hole and dies) Motherfucker! Well, you can't use the umbrella if you're already using the hole. So your only other option is to have some kind of special sixth sense to mentally detect what exists beyond the boundary of the screen. In other words, It's a fucking guessing game! Oh no... no... no...! (Player falls in the hole and dies again) I can tell you what kind of hole this game belongs in! Another bean is "Tangerine" to make a trampoline. Well, this thing's based on Momentum. The more you bounce, the higher you go. Oh man, hit the ceiling. I gotta get back down. But how the hell do i get back down? (Player dies after falls) AHHHH, you fuck! Get up there! (Player bounces on trampoline too high) You see what I'm trying to do, right? Oh... oh... oh... (Player dies) UUUUUUUUGGGGGGGGHHHHHH! Get. up. there. Any. way. possible. Just the heir to the right... Don't... don't... don't...! (Player dies) Oh, come on! All right, just want to bounce over the left uh... Go left! Go left! (Player falls and dies yet again) SON OF A FUCKING BITCH!!! This is some of the most elegantly designed torture I've ever seen. Gonna use licorice to make a ladder. Oh come on, I can't go up there! I'm gonna try it off to the side. It uh... oh, you gotta be kidding me! It has to be at the perfect spot! Let's try here. (Player climbs a ladder and dies an enemy over it) What? Oh, that was some cheap bullshit!

The Nerd: This is a prime example of a trial and error game. It only sets you up for failure, and the only course of action is to fail over and over again until you get lucky. It's also a major "Where the-fuck-do-you-go" kind of game. You keep running around like an asshole. And of course, there was no fucking internet, so we'd have to consult Nintendo Power. Oh, that's cool they lay out the whole map with numbers. So you just follow the numbers, right? "Number 9: Stop-y(!) Dead End-y(!) This route leads to nowhere you want to be. Instead, head to the left and numbers 10 and 11." Oh, that fucking takes the piss out of me! Who printed that? I want to know who.

The Nerd: But nothing compares to this treasure at the very bottom. It's heavily guarded by stalagmites. You have to be joking! Just try to go near it, just fucking try! And that's it, you're done. I've approached it from every conceivable angle and I've determined that you cannot get this treasure unless you die. I guess that counts, right? You're dead, but you got the treasure. That's some pirate shit right there. But here's the thing, you don't need to get all the treasures, you just need enough. So fuck the undergrounds, go back to the streets, go the vitamin store and cash those treasures in. Now you got vitamins and you're ready to head to the Planet Blobolonia to take out the Emperor. Use the root beer bean to make a rocket...

Lothar: The rocket!

The Nerd: ...Then launch yourself off. Okay, now let me ask a question, this boy dies when he touches water, but he can breathe in fucking space?! Now we're on Blobolonia, and remember when I said there wasn't enough enemies or things trying to kill you? Well, fuck myself! God DAMN! Is there enough shit in the way now?! Maybe. Just maybe! First, it's the dancing marshmallows, they just go up and down, up and down, but then they start doing these funky patterns. Kind of like the jellyfish in Jaws, they keep getting crazier and crazier. Next, you come to these cherry bombs. Don't even worry about the pattern because they'll just blow up and kill you anyway. Even if you try to outrun them, just hold right without stopping, they will still kill you. Might as well put down the controller and rethink your life. Even if you're not on the same screen, they can still kill you! There is a trick, use the coconut bean to make a coconut bowling ball. Throw it off-screen, and wait for it... wait for it... (Player dies after exploding some cherry bombs) FUCK! You can throw that coconut, wait all day, but as soon as you decide to go after it, death is waiting. It's a very specific kind of throw in a certain place with a running start. You know you got it when the screen changes to follow it. Wow, that's one hell of a throw! By doing this, you clear all the enemies. But how would you know to do that? The answer is get the power! Nintendo Power!

The Nerd: Next, it's a corn field. Yeah, great, now you're being attacked by popcorn. All we need now is Korn, the band. Then you're inside some candy factory. It's like Willy Wonka's factory but even more evil.

Willy Wonka: Two naughty, nasty little children gone. Three good, sweet little children left.

The Nerd: There's marshmallows falling off conveyor belts, teeth, and poop piles. Luckily you got those vitamins, use the orange bean to unleash the Vita Blaster. Good thing we have that. Now it's like every other NES game where you just run to the right and blast everything. Yeah, shoot that shit! Literally. The coconut trick still holds up, but you gotta find the right spot. All right, here we go.

(The player starts to roll the coconut over the entire Blobolonia, whilist The Nerd then sees his eyes close-up while looking the coconut rolling on the screen. Then we see the coconut rolling over pass through the NES games of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, Contra, The Simpsons Bart vs. the Space Mutants and Super Pitfall, as the Nerd continues to surprise itself. The coconut ball slowly rolls through at the caverns, then falls off behind the witch's brew, making the coconut ball stopped rolling indefinitely.)

The Nerd: Well, rather anti-climactic, wouldn't you say?

The Nerd: Then you go past some creepy gingerbread men who do absolutely nothing. You use the lime bean to make the key, "Key Lime". Open the door... Wha-wha-what the fuck is this?!?! How did Blobert suddenly end up in a cage? And, is this the Emperor? Why does he look like a pale Jabba the Hutt? But whatever, it's the final boss battle! This is it! Here we go!

(The Nerd plays the final boss, overjoyed, set to some metal music. The player throws the jelly bean to Blobert (in a cage) which is just turned into a Apple Jack, then knocks and spilling over all the vitamins in the vitamin bottle over the evil Emperor. Record scratches)

The Nerd: What happened? "...and the evil King is defeated with his own hidden supply of vitamins and all of Blobolonia salutes their savior." Did I win...? ...Already?? All I did was throw Blobert an apple jelly bean, he turned into a Jack and knocked over the jar of vitamins. Remember, vitamins are fatal to the Emperor. So, if you were a villain and had a weakness, a bane that could kill you, what would you do? Well, keep a bunch of it next to you at all times! Okay, who's this supposed to be? The Pillsbury Fuckface? Or would you prefer Stay Puft or the Michelin Man? The game tells you nothing about him, but I'd assume he's the rightful King of Blobolonia. He was captured by the Emperor and you've rescued him. And now that he's free, he's gonna send his Blob army to conquer Earth. Yeah, wouldn't that have been a great ending if it said, "Congratulations! You've killed us all!" Asshole!

The Nerd: This doesn't feel like a complete game, it can be beaten in an incredibly short time providing that you know what to do and where to go. Just to point out how short this game really is. Every screen of the entire game is shown in only four pages of Nintendo Power. If they had more time, it would have been great to see more levels. The concept is very original with a lot of potential, the creative puzzle solving elements differentiated from other platformers on the NES. David Crane advanced the possibilities of gaming in the same way he had done with Pitfall. It may be heavily flawed, but the ingenuity shines through. It did in fact win "Best of Show" at the Consumer Electronics Show in '89 and it received the Parents Choice Award from the Parents Choice foundation in 1990, citing its positive human values. For example, always have a healthy diet with lots of variety like licorice, vanilla, root beer, and cola jelly beans. There's things more important than money, and that's treasure chests and giant diamonds. The road less traveled is the road where there's nothing and you'll have to turn back. Life is tough, life is unfair, so just cheat and roll that fucking coconut bowling ball.

The Nerd: This game is something that could have only existed in the '80s. After all, it's a game about jelly beans which was the favorite candy of President Ronald Reagan. As a kid, I didn't know the difference between Ronald Reagan and Ronald McDonald. But the point is, that's some '80s shit right there! And what a way to close out the decade. To some, it may just be another obscure NES game but to others, it's remembered with great fondness. It's legacy continues and whether they're conscious influences or not, I'm reminded of Blobert when I see Adult Swim cartoons like the character "Squish Face" in Sealab 2021 or "Meatwad" in Aqua Teen Hunger Force, with his transforming capabilities. There is a new version of A Boy and His Blob on the Wii, so it's very clear that it hasn't been forgotten. Hopefully, it'll get another sequel (The Rescue of Princess Blobette) or maybe an expanded version, maybe even an animated series in the future, these would all be great ways to fulfill its potential. There's truly no other game like it.

The Nerd: But maybe I'm being too positive here I haven't broken or shit on anything yet. So I'm going to end by saying, (flips the middle finger) Fuck this game!

(The Nerd gets off the couch and the camera EXTREMELY shakes and vibrately on the screen, as we hear some frustation and destruction sounds.)