Take on the NES Library

An 8-bit Extravaganza!



#80 – A Boy and His Blob: Trouble on Blobolonia

Candy is dandy, and jelly beans are really keen.

Nice music here, and if you wait a bit, some credits!

To Beat: Reach the ending
To Complete: Reach the ending with all treasures
What I Did: Completed the game
Played: 4/7/18 – 4/11/18
Difficulty: 5/10
My Difficulty: 3/10
Video: A Boy and His Blob 100% Longplay

Today we are dipping back into the NES library to play another weird game. A Boy and His Blob: Trouble in Blobolonia is an adventure game that doesn’t have a parallel I can think of to any other game of its time. I’ve talked about what I consider weird or quirky games before, specifically Ghoul School and Mendel Palace come to mind, that have a unique personality or feel to them. A Boy and His Blob certainly fits that bill, and I believe it is a more accessible game that has a wider appeal than those other two games I covered. Let’s take a deeper look and see what we are getting into.

A Boy and His Blob: Trouble on Blobolonia was released on the NES in North America in January 1990. It was developed by Imagineering and published by Absolute Entertainment. This was one of the first NES releases for both companies. The Famicom version, named Fushigi na Blobby: Blobania no Kiki, was published by Jaleco in November 1990. The name translates to Mysterious Blobby: The Crisis of Blobania. The PAL version was released in 1991. The game is attributed to David Crane, who was lead designer and developer on the game. A Game Boy sequel, The Rescue of Princess Blobette, was first released in Japan also in November 1990. This sequel predates the original in Japan by a few weeks, while the other versions released in 1991. WayForward Technologies developed the Wii remake of A Boy and His Blob in 2009, the same year the NES game appeared on Wii Virtual Console.

A Boy and His Blob has a simple story that is nearly summed up in the title alone. You play the role of the boy who makes friends with a blob from outer space. According to the manual, the blob’s name is Blobert. He is from Blobolonia and he is looking for help in defeating his evil emperor, who makes everyone eat marshmallows and chocolate instead of health-promoting vitamins. To defeat the emperor, you need vitamins. (Those are harmful to the emperor, you see.) To get vitamins, you need money, and you get money by finding treasures in the underground cave. The blob can turn into various objects by feeding him certain flavors of jelly beans, and you will need the blob’s abilities to achieve your goal of defeating the emperor.

Your good friend will follow you anywhere.

The starting controls are simple. You control the boy directly and the blob will follow after you. Press Left or Right to walk around. The boy has significant inertia, so he is slow to start moving and slides around a lot. Press the A button to toss a jelly bean. I suppose you could call it jelly bean inertia because he takes a little while to pluck the jelly bean out of the bag and toss it. You can move while tossing to throw the jelly bean farther ahead. If you throw a jelly bean off screen, the camera will follow it until it hits the ground. This is helpful when you don’t know what’s below you, for instance. The B button causes the boy to let out a loud whistle. This calls the blob toward you, and it transforms the blob from any object back to normal blob form. Press Select to change the flavor of jelly bean you wish to throw. You can cycle through the list in reverse by holding Down and pressing Select.

The top and bottom of the screen contain all the information you need to play. The top displays the current score, the number of treasures remaining, and how many lives you have left. The bottom of the screen shows which jelly bean you have selected along with how many of that flavor you have remaining.

The fun of the game is making use of the blob’s many transformations. You need to feed the blob a certain way. First, stand a step or so away and make sure he is facing you. You can use the whistle to help guide him. Then simply press A to toss the jelly bean. It should fall right into his mouth, and then he shrinks down into a ball before transforming. If a jelly bean hits the ground, it’s gone forever. If you throw a jelly bean near the blob that he doesn’t reach, he makes a sad face. Try not to do that!

A happy blob is a helpful blob.

Let’s take a look at what each jelly bean does:

Licorice is for Ladder. You can press Up and Down to climb the ladder to reach ledges about half a screen in height. Sometimes the ladder will go through a ledge above it, and sometimes it doesn’t. You have plenty of licorice jelly beans to use if one ladder doesn’t pan out.

Strawberry is for Bridge. Position the blob next to the edge of a ledge and feed him a jelly bean. He will stretch out horizontally to the opposite ledge so you can safely cross.

Coconut is for Coconut. This transformation is the most direct, for sure. You can pick up the blob in coconut form. Press A to drop the coconut blob or press B to throw him ahead. He will roll for awhile and usually the camera will follow him so you can see what’s ahead.

Cola is for Bubble. The blob turns into a large bubble just your size. You can walk into the bubble and bounce along. While inside, you will fall slowly and you can even breathe underwater.

Cinnamon is for Blow Torch. This is another transformation you can pick up. This time B doesn’t do anything when held. The blow torch is active while you are holding it.

Apple is for Jack. Haha, it’s a cereal joke. This is just like a jack that lifts up a car. You can’t pick it up either.

Vanilla is for Umbrella. This is a useful one. This is grabbable like the coconut and blow torch, only the boy holds the umbrella up over his head. You can use this to fall slowly and also protect your head from falling objects.

Many transformations are helpful tools.

Tangerine is for Trampoline. This lets you jump super high, though it is tricky to use. Walk up to the trampoline to start bouncing. Hold Up to bounce higher and hold Down to bounce lower. You stay locked in place above the trampoline until you reach the top of your bounce. Then you can hold Left or Right to get out from above the trampoline, hopefully to a nearby ledge so you don’t fall to your death.

Root Beer is for Rocket. Blast off to the skies! More on this one later.

Honey is for Hummingbird. The blob will fly toward you and travels through any solid ground with ease. It’s useful for getting the blob back to you if you leave him behind as a trampoline.

The ketchup jelly bean is the one flavor the blob doesn’t like. He will flat out reject them. What it does instead is instantly teleports the blob to wherever it hits the ground. This is your failsafe to get the blob back if you become so separated that you can’t reunite by normal means.

Punch is for Hole. Yes, the blob can turn himself into the absence of material. If the ledge is thin enough, you can place a hole and fall through it. There’s a trick to use the same hole more than once. If you fall through and whistle without moving, the hole will fall to you. As soon as it hits the ground, you will fall through it again. Otherwise, the blob goes back to normal.

Lime is for Key. This is yet another grabbable form. Certainly, it is useful for something.

Orange is for the Vitablaster. You might be able to guess what this one does by name alone. More on this one later.

He can even become transparent and help you breathe underwater.

A Boy and His Blob is divided into two clear halves. The first half of the game is the treasure hunt. You will try out all the different transformations and explore the caves below the city subway. There are many treasures here, as well as different traps and things to avoid. Bouncing worms show up in several places and you die if you touch them. Spikes and falling rocks defeat you, as well as entering water without the bubble. You also die if you fall from a height greater than roughly a screen and a half tall. Caves are dangerous for a young boy!

While there are a finite number of treasures, you don’t need them to find them all to finish the game. Two of the treasures are bags of extra jelly beans. One of those bags holds both the Lime and Orange jelly beans among others. These are the only two kinds you don’t begin the game with, and you need them to beat the game. Once you are satisfied with your underground excursion, make your way back up to the surface. On the far right is a health food shop. Depending on how many treasures you found, you will get a predefined assortment of Vitamins A, B, and C upon entering the store and spending your hard-earned treasure. Now’s the time to use the Root Beer jelly bean to create a rocket taking you to Blobolonia.

Seeking the emperor in Blobolonia is the second half of the game. There’s no real exploration here, rather it’s a gauntlet of enemies and traps. This is where the Orange jelly beans and the Vitablaster come in handy. You can pick up the Vitablaster like other carryable forms. Hold the Vitablaster and press Select to cycle between Vitamins A, B, and C. You also see the ammo count next to the selected type. Press B to fire a vitamin, and the type of vitamin determines its flight path. Vitamin A fires in a long arc. Vitamin B travels a short distance and bounces straight up when it hits the ground. Vitamin C is a completely straight shot. You can also press Up or Down while holding the Vitablaster to aim either straight ahead, at a 45-degree angle, or straight up. There are marshmallows, cherry bombs, popcorn, and chocolate kisses you can shoot with the Vitablaster to clear the path ahead. On Blobolonia you can also collect peppermints. These are displayed on the top of the screen once you get one, and you earn an extra life for every five peppermints you collect. Hopefully you saved up enough lives for this part of the game.

Killer marshmallows are the least of your worries.

You begin each game with five lives. The boy is pretty fragile so they can go fast. There are no continues in the game either, and there’s no way to earn extra lives until you get to the latter half of the game. Fortunately, the game is on the shorter side and you can try again quickly.

A Boy and His Blob is a game I had growing up and I’ve beaten it many times before. I’m not sure how I ended up with the game in the first place, but it was probably through a yard sale or game store or something. I seem to remember either renting it or playing it at a friend’s house before that.

Even though I knew how to beat the game, I haven’t played it in many years. I forgot the path I used to take through the cave to get all the treasures. It only took a few tries for it to all come back to me. I remembered all the transformations and what to do with them too. I spent a few attempts over a couple of days to hone my skills back in, and then set out to record a full run. I’m pleased with how my video longplay turned out. I only died one time in a pretty tricky spot, and I feel I played well for the rest of the game. After I finished playing the game, I looked at a map of the caves and discovered that it is all a lot smaller than I remembered. This is probably why I didn’t have much trouble finding all the treasures again.

A Boy and His Blob was a game I fondly remembered from my youth, and from my experience I believe it’s an NES game that more people remember than you might think. Overall, it’s a solid game with a unique, quirky hook to it that keeps you coming back. The graphics go for a lifelike look which doesn’t hold up as well today but is fine for playing. The detailed character animation does hold up well. The music is awfully catchy and suits the game well. The blob has a lot of charisma and character as he can transform into so many different things and even shows emotion at times. The main downside to the game is a lack of precision. The boy’s movement is very slippery, and sometimes you can’t get the blob to cooperate with you either. You end up using extra jelly beans to help position the blob just so, which slows the game down. Some transformations don’t quite work right in specific situations. Also, precise jumping with the trampoline is often an exercise in frustration. Some players would appreciate a map of the game too, though it’s not as bad as it first appears. The fun of the game will likely override those concerns. It’s a fun adventure to take if you are trying to beat the game, and it’s also enjoyable just to tinker around with.

#80 – A Boy and His Blob: Trouble on Blobolonia


#78 – DuckTales 2

Scrooge McDuck decided he didn’t have enough money after all.

Look at that shiny gold!

To Beat: Reach the ending
To Complete: Beat the game with the best ending
What I Did: Completed the game with all endings
Played: 3/12/18 – 3/15/18
Difficulty: 3/10
My Difficulty: 3/10
My Video: DuckTales 2 Longplay with Best Ending

It’s another milestone of my Take On The NES Library project, sort of. DuckTales 2 is not the first sequel on my list. That goes to Super Mario Bros. 2. However, DuckTales 2 is the first direct sequel, in the sense that it is basically the same game. Milestones are going to be harder to find the longer I go into the project, so I like pointing them out and celebrating the ones we have. DuckTales 2 doesn’t do a whole lot in changing the formula of the original game, but I think that’s okay. NES DuckTales is quite good, and more of the same shouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing.

For more information on the background of this series, check out my DuckTales review.

DuckTales 2 was first released on the Famicom in April 1993. The NES release in North America followed in June 1993, and a PAL release followed later in the year. It was published by Capcom. Make Software is credited as the developer, although from what I can find, they may have only been responsible for the sound engine in the game. My belief is that Capcom and Make Software co-developed the game. That is pure speculation on my part just because of how similar this game is to the original DuckTales which was developed by Capcom. A Game Boy port followed in November 1993 in North America and December 1993 in Japan.

Travel the world in search of treasure again!

DuckTales 2 is a side-scrolling platformer where you control Scrooge McDuck. The story begins with Huey running to Scrooge with a torn piece of paper. They figure out that it is a portion of a treasure map left by the late Fergus McDuck. Naturally, they want to try and rebuild the map so they can locate the lost treasure of McDuck. Scrooge and company start an expedition to five different locations both to find the remaining portions of the map and to collect highly guarded treasures along the way.

The game controls the same as the first game. You walk around with the D-pad and you can duck by holding Down. The A button jumps. While jumping, if you hold Down and B you use your cane as a pogo stick. You bounce high off the ground, and this is how you defeat enemies and pass over spikes. If you walk into a wall or solid block for a little bit, you will see Scrooge stand in place for as long as you hold the direction button. If you press B in this state, he will swing his cane like a golf club and whack the object next to him. You can also jump with A in this state and then swing your cane to hit objects off the ground. You can press Start to pause.

A few features were added to DuckTales 2. Scrooge’s cane is used to hook certain objects. Perform the golf swing on these things to grab onto them with the cane instead of hitting them. You can then hold the opposite direction on the D-pad to pull on them. You can drag certain blocks on the ground, as well as pull switches and activate objects. Release the B button to let go of your hooked object. There are hooks above the ground that you can grab onto simply by jumping to them. Press A again while hooked to jump off or press Down to fall.

Scrooge’s cane is more versatile.

At the start of the game, you see a map of the game world. There are five levels and you can play them in any order you like. Simply use the D-pad to move a cursor to the different stages. The icon next to a stage will show Scrooge’s face if you have already completed the level once. Otherwise, it shows the treasure you can find guarded by the boss at the end of the stage. Launchpad will read some information about the level you selected. You can choose to play that stage or switch to a different one.

There are three equipment upgrades you can find. You can speak with characters by walking up to them. Normally they give you some advice about the level you are in. In certain levels, you can find and talk to Gyro and he will give you an adaptor upgrade for your cane. The hammer adaptor gives you a more powerful golf swing, the iron adaptor gives you a stronger pogo jump, and the power adaptor lets you pull heavier things. They are applied automatically when you get them and they are permanent. Now you can break or pull certain blocks that hide treasure or other paths you can explore.

Like in the original game, you can find different items in the stages. Sometimes enemies will drop jewels that add to your money total at the top of the screen. Small diamonds are worth $1000, large diamonds give you $10,000, and red diamonds yield $50,000. Items mostly come out of treasure boxes, both small and large, that you can open by bopping them with your cane, either by pogo jump or golf swing. Boxes may also hide ice cream cones that restore one point of health and cakes that refill your entire health meter. Extra lives in the shape of a small Scrooge also appear occasionally inside a treasure box. A couple large treasure boxes hide special treasures that are worth a million dollars each. Also, each stage has one large treasure box containing a piece of the treasure map. The difficulty level chosen on the title screen influences the items you’ll find. The harder difficulties have fewer health recovery items, replacing them with jewels.

Check every nook and cranny for the map pieces.

DuckTales 2 features an item shop. Like in the first game, each level ends in a boss fight and you earn a treasure worth a million dollars. Combine that with your earnings from the stage, and then you get a chance to spend it in the item shop. Two items in the shop are ones you can bring into the stages. The cake acts just like the cake item from the treasure chests, but this one you can use anytime. Pause the game, then use the D-pad to scroll through your items to select the cake. The other item is the safe, but unlike the cake you don’t have to use it through the menu. The safe lets you keep your money earned if you lose a life within a stage. Normally you lose your accrued cash when you die. You can buy extra lives and a continue globe that lets you continue if you run out of lives. The extra energy item adds a point to your maximum health. You begin with three points and can buy two of these items to get up to five health. You can also buy a piece of the treasure map, but this isn’t always for sale.

Here are the five stages in the game:

Niagara Falls: This is the first level in the list and not a bad one to start off with. This level has water in it that you can cross on a life raft. Knock the raft into the water and smack the wall while standing on the raft to push it to the other side. There are logs falling down the falls that you must cross, as well as a crumbling bridge.

Bermuda Triangle: This stage takes place on a ship near the Bermuda triangle. This level has barrels that you can smack with your cane that sometimes give diamonds. One neat object is a cannon that you can fire by hooking with your cane and pulling a cannonball loose. There are also conveyor belts that you can drive by pulling them with the cane.

Behold the rare spring blossom!

Mu: This level takes you below ground passing through the ruins of past civilization. There is an ancient city here that can give you something special if you can find it. There is a flower that you can tug on with your cane to springboard you across a large gap. It’s the only one in the game but it’s neat.

Egypt: This pyramid level is the most maze-like stage of all. It has several looping paths and hidden floors. There’s a lot of treasure for the taking if you are willing to look for it.

Scotland: This stage is a large castle, and there are plenty of knights and spikes to contend with. One enemy here is a floating hand carrying a lantern. It shows up a lot and sometimes you can bounce off it to reach treasures.

There’s a bit more to play past these five stages. Scrooge’s rival, Flintheart Glomgold, appears on the pirate ship. You have to go there and deal with him to beat the game. If you can find all seven pieces of the map, you get to play one additional level containing the lost treasure of McDuck before the final showdown.

Snakes and quicksand are a dangerous combination.

This was my first time playing DuckTales 2. It’s one of those late lifespan NES games that is both fun to play and very expensive to buy. A loose cart sells around $125 these days. It has been near that amount for several years now. The first DuckTales game was popular enough that DuckTales 2 seems to have sold decently well for a 1993 NES game. I say that because it is easier to find than many of the other expensive NES games. I have seen a few copies for sale in stores since I’ve been looking for games, and I can’t say that for other games this costly. It’s also the most expensive NES game I’ve owned more than one copy of. I bought my first one for $100 on eBay, and the other I found in an eBay lot of six games that I bought for $60 total.

I struggled a little bit more playing DuckTales 2 than I would have expected. I got Game Over a couple of times while I was l learning the levels and looking around for secrets. I suppose it’s easy to be careless when you aren’t focusing solely on surviving and beating levels. Once I committed to buying the health upgrades and whatever else I needed, I didn’t have any problems beating the game after that. I got the normal ending of the game with plenty of lives to spare.

Getting the best ending like I wanted took a little more effort. Through normal play and exploration, I found all of the map pieces but two. The one in Niagara Falls I thought was very well hidden. I found that one last though I found it on my own. The map piece in Egypt gave me real trouble. To get it, you have to solve a puzzle that opens a gate leading to the map segment. There’s a clue before the area that gives you the hint needed to solve it, but I just couldn’t figure it out. I tried everything I could think of and got nowhere. I had to look up the solution to that one online. I gave it my best try so I have no issues with looking up the answer, even if I prefer not to.

These lantern hands show up in tricky spots.

Just like in the first DuckTales game, there is a third, bad ending if you finish the game with no money remaining. There’s a clearer path to the ending in DuckTales 2 because you can spend extra money in the shop, and you spend in smaller amounts than in the first game. If you need some extra money to balance it out, or simply more chances to buy in the shop, you can leave a level through Launchpad. This lets you keep the money you have earned in the stage plus lets you shop again. You can do this as many times as you want. I was able to get the bad ending on my second try. This means I got all three endings in DuckTales 2.

I think DuckTales 2 is a little bit easier than the first game. I rated DuckTales a 4/10 and gave DuckTales 2 a 3/10. Most of that difference is due to the ability to purchase additional lives and continues. Another difference is that I believe you can earn unlimited money in DuckTales 2. In the original, you could only leave with Launchpad once per stage. Here you can revisit a level you are good at, take the money or any extra lives you can find, and leave with Launchpad as many times as you want. It’s grinding made easy. The difficulty of the levels themselves are roughly the same in my mind. It’s not a complete pushover of a game but it shouldn’t take experienced players very long to beat.

DuckTales 2 is a great NES game, but doesn’t offer as much as you might expect from a sequel. The graphics, music, controls, and gameplay are all top notch. It’s the kind of quality you would expect from a Capcom-published NES game from the 90s. The upgrades are nice and help add a bit of exploration to the game even though it can be a little tedious replaying stages. The levels all have a good amount of secrets to find, as well as branching paths and some neat obstacles to interact with. It’s a fine game, but it does feel just like the first DuckTales game. I appreciate games like DuckTales 2 that give you more of what you want. I know not everyone feels that way. Plus, it’s hard to recommend buying the game when it’s so expensive and is over so quickly. It’s worth a play any way you can manage it if you like DuckTales.

#78 – DuckTales 2 (Best Ending)

#78 – DuckTales 2