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Review: A Boy and His Blob

Feb 06 // Brett Makedonski
A Boy and His Blob (Linux, PC, Mac, PS4, PS Vita, Wii, Xbox One [reviewed])Developer: WayForward TechnologiesPublisher: Majesco EntertainmentReleased: October 13, 2009 (Wii), January 20, 2016 (Re-released on other platforms)MSRP: $9.99 WayForward's take on A Boy and His Blob is intentionally vague and that's possibly its best quality. In an opening sequence reminiscent of EarthBound, a child is woken in the middle of the night to a crash outside his window. After a brief bout of exploration, Blob is discovered. From there, it's just adventuring for the sake of adventuring, and saving the world for the sake of saving the world. Blob is billed as the greatest asset, a shapeshifter who can perform about a dozen different functions. For example, Boy feeds Blob a jellybean and Blob turns into an anvil. Or a soccer ball. Or a trampoline. Over the course of 40-some levels, variations of this sequence play out hundreds (maybe thousands) of times as the main function of this puzzle platformer. You wouldn't think it from the game's title, but Blob is actually a tertiary character. If it were named more accurately, this would be called A Boy and His Jellybean Wheel. A disconcerting amount of time is spent in a time-frozen state clumsily navigating a menu of the level's eight-or-so pre-assigned jellybeans. After a jellybean is thrown and Blob (hopefully) performs his duties, it's only a matter of seconds until you're forced to again pull up that menu. That process sucks the life out of A Boy and His Blob. Even though most of the game's levels are notably short, they often feel like arduous endeavors because the pace grinds to a crawl. Puzzle solutions are usually easily identifiable -- in fact, there are often giant signs pointing out the answer -- but their execution is needlessly slow and sluggish. [embed]338372:62152:0[/embed] Making matters worse, there are many many instances when Blob simply won't do what you want. Blob has a tendency to shift shapes just ever-so-slightly not quite where intended. It's annoying at first, but becomes a detriment in later levels. That combined with stiff and unresponsive platforming controls often leads to starting the section over from scratch.  And, that's all when Blob is actually on-screen. It's not uncommon for Blob to be missing altogether, either because it was left behind or it hopped into an abyss. When this happens, the game would like for the balloon jellybean to be tossed, causing Blob to eventually float to your position. Mercifully, however, there's a call button that can just be impatiently pressed over and over until it balloons your way automatically, slowly but surely. What A Boy and His Blob has on its side are intangibles, of sorts. They're plucky attributes that significantly and understatedly enhance a game, but don't necessarily make a game. For instance, there's no denying A Boy and His Blob's innocent aesthetic, unspoken emotion, or charming spirit. Those are the qualities that make the game more tolerable than it would otherwise be. Without much option of anything besides leaning on the NES version's method of using Blob (a non-playable character) as the means of gameplay execution, WayForward's take on A Boy and His Blob is frustratingly imprecise and inaccurate. But, by deviating a bit and adding the jellybean wheel, it killed any momentum and turned the game into a slog. That is truly the worst of both worlds. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
A Boy and His Blob review photo
Blah-b
A Boy and His Blob, a 2009 "re-imagining" of the NES game of the same namesake (and recently re-released on current platforms), is an interesting case study. When does retro game design and a devotion to source material becom...

Umihara Kawase photo
Umihara Kawase

Umihara Kawase has returned to Steam


That didn't take too long
Feb 06
// Kyle MacGregor
The Umihara Kawase trilogy is now back on Steam, Degica has announced. The trio of bizarre platformers disappeared from Valve's store in December after their publisher Agatsuma Entertainment went out of business earlier that ...

The hardcore Destiny community forgets why we play

Feb 06 // Darren Nakamura
There are a lot of possible answers to that question, but the most common among the hardcore players is because they are not at the maximum light level, or don't have every piece of exotic gear. Basically, they're in it for the stuff. This isn't some mindblowing revelation. Bungie has employed specific knowledge of human psychology in order to hook people into the loop. It's a classic Skinner box through and through, and Bungie wants players to keep hitting that lever for the chance at getting a food pellet. This is even more apparent now that Bungie has shifted to its limited-time events. I read a sentiment about the Sparrow Racing League from late last year that paraphrases to "I play SRL because the loot drops are high and frequent." More recently, Iron Banner Rift has seen players manipulating the Mercy Rule to intentionally throw matches and get to the end-of-game rewards more quickly. The problem with this mindset is that it treats the game like work. As players, we should be saying "I want to engage with this content because it is entertaining," not "I want to get to the end of this content as quickly as possible because my number might go up." I played a decent bit of SRL when it was around because the racing was a nice change of pace to the usual shooting. I played the most recent Iron Banner because Rift is my strongest game type and I knew I'd enjoy the process. I run King's Fall because it's a great feeling coordinating six Guardians into a well-oiled machine. Heck, I will still run the old raids, Vault of Glass and Crota's End, despite that they drop useless rewards. I play Destiny for the intrinsic value. I play Destiny because it is entertaining. When you treat a game like it's a job, then the saltiness comes out. Farming materials for the exotic sword quest is a good example. If you view it as an item on a checklist and try to power through it as quickly as possible, you're in for a bad time. Sure, you can mainline material routes for four hours straight to get it, but it'll be a boring four hours. Instead, I would go on Patrol, grab a few materials, participate in public events, kill some Taken champions, and head back to orbit when I felt like doing something else. It probably took me twice as long over multiple days to finish farming, but that was eight hours of enjoying myself instead of four hours of hating the world. The economics here are clear: if you play only for the reward at the end, you rob yourself of the enjoyment throughout. I implore players: divorce yourself from the reptilian part of your brain that is so susceptible to Destiny's operant conditioning. If you ever find yourself playing because you feel you have to rather than because you want to, ask yourself, "Am I enjoying this?" If you find yourself more interested in the reward at the end than the content in which you use the reward, ask yourself, "Is this worth it?" If your answers to those questions are no, there's no shame in finding something else to do, inside the world of Destiny or outside of it. Never forget the reason we play in the first place: to have fun.
Destiny opinion photo
Forget chasing loot for once
I've been playing a lot of Destiny lately -- late to the party, I know -- and going deep into the rabbit hole almost requires players to frequent r/DestinyTheGame or some other similar community site. Without it, I'd never kn...

Capcom photo
Capcom

Breath of Fire III launches on PSN next week


'Never say never'
Feb 06
// Kyle MacGregor
More than a decade after launching on PSP in Japan, Breath of Fire III will arrive on PlayStation Network in North America next Tuesday, February 9, according to the latest PlayStation Blogcast. Back in 2013, Capcom's th...
Final Fantasy photo
Final Fantasy

Square Enix might bring that Adventures of Mana Vita port to the West after all


Thanks to you
Feb 06
// Kyle MacGregor
Every time I've written about Adventures of Mana, the new Final Fantasy Adventure remake, just about every one of you have clamored for Square Enix to localize the PlayStation Vita version. In case you haven't been following ...

Contest: Win a copy of Nitroplus Blasterz

Feb 06 // Kyle MacGregor
[embed]339227:62151:0[/embed]
Contest photo
Four PS4 codes up for grabs
The localization team at XSEED Games has generously given Destructoid four PlayStation 4 codes for the studio's excellent new fighting game Nitroplus Blasterz to give away you fine people.  For a chance to win ...

Deals photo
Deals

Spicy weekend deals on XCOM 2, Doom, and Bayonetta 2


Something for everyone
Feb 06
// Dealzon
After last month's lull, it's weekend for games. New titles are launching left and right, like XCOM 2, which seems to be fairing well with critics and regular folks alike. If you're looking to pick it up, the best deal i...
Fire Emblem Fates photo
Fire Emblem Fates

PSA: Fire Emblem Fates does not feature dual audio in the west


English only
Feb 06
// Chris Carter
I woke up today to tons of emails and PMs, asking one simple question -- does Fire Emblem Fates have dual audio? So I quickly hopped over to the Extras menu, and found that no, it does not. It's curious, as the option for Jap...
Pokemon photo
Pokemon

These Bulbasaur planters are pretty adorable


Oddish too!
Feb 06
// Kyle MacGregor
I've never been into gardening, but these Bulbasaur planters have convinced me to give it a shot. The design is just too perfect; after seeing it, I had to snap one up right away. If you're interested in following suit, ...
XSEED photo
XSEED

Return to PopoloCrois gets March 1 release date


At least in North America
Feb 06
// Kyle MacGregor
Return to PopoloCrois: A Story of Seasons Fairytale launches on March 1 in North America. While XSEED will release the "farming-flavored" role-playing game in both physical and digital form across North America, Marvelou...
ATLUS photo
ATLUS

The Legend of Legacy is out now in Europe


Ribbit
Feb 06
// Kyle MacGregor
The Legend of Legacy is now available across Europe, NIS America has announced. I wasn't too fond of the role-playing game when it launched in North America last fall, finding it to be a repetitive experience without muc...
Tomorrow Children photo
Tomorrow Children

The Tomorrow Children beta returns this weekend


The only 'big game' I care about
Feb 05
// Jordan Devore
I attempted to play the recent beta for The Tomorrow Children only to realize that, darn it, I was a few hours too late. After going through the brief tutorial section, I rode on a subway that was supposed to run to a town wi...
Corgi gun photo
Corgi gun

Why yes, yes there is a corgi gun in XCOM 2


Thank you based mods
Feb 05
// Steven Hansen
Shout out to the ravioli-date-owing boo Dalé and shout out to XCOM 2, which, damn, I want to be playing right now and shout out to JonTerp whose mod turns a gun into a cute-ass corgi. It fits fight up there with the th...
Site Update photo
Site Update

Site maintenance notice: a new Destructoid is coming soon


Check out the beta
Feb 05
// Niero Desu
Just a quick note - we're launching a new version of our site soon, which you can preview at http://dev.destructoid.com. It still has a number of bugs to address before launch, but just wanted to give you an early head's...
TrackMania photo
TrackMania

TrackMania Turbo hits PC and consoles in March


Back on the radar you go
Feb 05
// Jordan Devore
At some point during the past several months, TrackMania Turbo slipped off my radar. Which is a shame, because it looks super good. You can air-drop from a helicopter into a race and drive upside down on magnetic rollercoaste...
Community replay photo
Community replay

Community Replay: Bayonetta


Don't fuck with a witch
Feb 05
// StriderHoang
Welcome to Community Replay! Instead of offering up our usual Bloggers Wanted idea, which is a prompt to get you started, the Community Replay focuses on a specific game or game series in order to get you to talk about anythi...
 photo

Game Night at Giant Robot 2 Gallery


In LA tomorrow from 7-10pm!
Feb 05
// Mike Martin
Hey LA area Dtoiders! Looking for something to do tomorrow night? Why not head down to the Giant Robot 2 gallery? What's going there? Well check below (or hit the link to the left) for details silly!
Rise of the Tomb Raider photo
Rise of the Tomb Raider

First Rise of the Tomb Raider PC patch mostly just makes sure you can go 'sploring


And murdering too, I guess
Feb 05
// Brett Makedonski
Rise of the Tomb Raider is quite the good showing from Crystal Dynamics. Good enough, in fact, that we awarded it our Best Xbox Game of 2015. But, when we put it through its paces on PC, we found performance to be lackin...
The Binding of Isaac photo
The Binding of Isaac

Looks like The Binding of Isaac is coming to iPad


I, Zack, write about Isaac, on iPad
Feb 05
// Zack Furniss
Oh, Edmund McMillen. Oh, Tyrone Rodriguez. You're both such teases. You always seem to have something new to show fans of The Binding of Isaac. Do you ever sleep? Is there perhaps a flying Twitter drone in your house that sna...

XCOM 2 cover: Cool or #darksiders2?

Feb 05 // Steven Hansen
Even original Doom guy had a sick ass crop top exposing his abs and a bunch of ankle-biting demons. And so we come back around to XCOM 2. It's a hell of a lot more interesting than Enemy Unknown's squad silhouettes and science-y blue. But I've been torn on it since the first time I saw it. It feels oddly like an artsy idea and less artful execution. The logos don't help, of course. The title typeface doesn't, either (but how do you make "XCOM2" look not stupid?). Does it look, I don't know, busy? Does the title up top draw away too much from the close-up symmetry of the design? Did you notice that the skulls have different facial expressions? Look close. This is decidedly Not How Skulls Work. There aren't supposed to be some mad eye sockets, some happy eye sockets. Granted, I've never seen my own skull and lived to tell about it (kills me every time) and I'm no bonologist, but it's kind of goofy. And, hey, goofy skulls otherwise intended for ominous portent? [Darksiders 2 comes sliding through the doorway on cue like Kramer] For those of you too young to remember, we had a glorious time with Darksiders 2 here at Destructoid. That game looked like a goth teen's middle school notebook. Handy might've had the definitive blog, counting all of the skulls in a small batch of screenshots (over 100!!!), but #darksiders2 continued as a hashtag ready to be loosed anytime a bleach-tipped, puka-shell-necklace-wearer finger blasted his girlfriend in a Chili's bathroom (thanks, Occams!). The hashtag still persists anytime something so specifically assaults the senses. Sometimes people use it to reference the game by the same name. That's where I'm at. I like the hustle on XCOM 2's behalf. I like the ambition. I like that it isn't boring as all get out. I can't say they nailed it. It looks a tad goofy, a tad off to me, but that's okay. Better than bland. The actual game has a lot more visual flair going on this time around too. PS: Someone count the skulls, please.
IS IT ART? photo
Good luck, Commander
While I would sell out any one of you reading right now to have spent the last week or two playing XCOM 2, our review copy must have been lost in the mail. It's out, probably dope as hell, and my guy Nic is on it working on t...

H1Z1 photo
H1Z1

H1Z1 is becoming two separate games


'King of the Kill' and 'Just Survive'
Feb 05
// Jordan Devore
Daybreak plans to split up its multiplayer zombie survival game H1Z1 on February 17, 2016. It's becoming two titles: H1Z1: Just Survive, an apocalyptic open-world experience with the usual scavenging and crafting, and H1Z1: K...
Content has changed photo
Content has changed

OK K.O!: Cartoon Network made its own, original game


Steven Universe x Regular Show collab
Feb 05
// Steven Hansen
How many Adventure Time games has WayForward done now? Thirteen? Twenty-seven? It makes sense. Its original anime like Adventure Time, Regular Show, and Steven Universe are hits. But why have someone else make the games when ...
 photo

Friday Night Fights - Snuggie time


Game with the Dtoid Community!
Feb 05
// Mike Martin
I feel like hot garbage. Woke up just... blech. I feel like the inside of Andy's asshole after a NARP. Heavy, floppy, and grossly wet. Anyway, games. We should play them. I still have to drag my carcass to work, so I won't be on until late, but... I don't even know. Bah, play games, make love. Eat chicken soup. *falls over* 
WHAT!? photo
WHAT!?

GameStop is publishing a game AND 'not trying to be a publisher'


Got peas on my head don't call me a pea
Feb 05
// Steven Hansen
Hahaha. The new hotness from Insomniac (aside from the Ratchet and Clank tie-in) is Song of the Deep, a 2D, underwater metroidvania. It's $15 for PC, PS4, Xbox One. And GameStop, the retailer, is publishing it. But don't call...
Steam Chinese New Year photo
Steam Chinese New Year

Steam Lunar New Year Sale has thousands of discounted games


8,910 games on sale all week
Feb 05
// Steven Hansen
Steam has a massive new sale going on through next Friday, February 12, in honor of the Lunar New Year (known 'round San Francisco as Chinese New Year). You can get hits like Romance of the Three Kingdoms 13 for only $90! The...

Review in Progress: XCOM 2

Feb 05 // Nic Rowen
XCOM 2 (PC [reviewed], Mac)Developer: Firaxis GamesPublisher: 2K GamesReleased: February 5, 2015MSRP: $59.99 I'm a sap. A total and complete sap. If a game has an option to individually customize characters, I will always engage with it to the exclusion of everything else until I'm happy with what I've done. Even more so in a game like XCOM where the stakes are high and characters run a high risk of dying a horrible, and permanent, death. What better way to make that loss feel real? When a squadie gets flayed by an alien soldier wielding a rail gun in my game, I'm not just out a decent Ranger, I've lost one of my friends. I'm guessing I'm not the only one who does this, because Firaxis leaned into the character creation element hard in XCOM 2. Before you even begin fighting the alien menace, you can hop into the character creator and start making your dream squad, filing them away to show up organically in your game as fresh recruits and VIP extraction targets. As I said, I know I'm a sap, but that didn't stop me from being positively giddy when I found a grizzled rifle-toting version of my brother in my first randomized squad. Unlike XCOM: Enemy Unknown, which had fairly limited customization options, there are tons of small, silly, character-establishing quirks to fiddle with in XCOM 2 when you should be plowing through missions and writing a review. Sunglasses, tattoos, cigarettes, scars, camo patterns, accents, all sorts of small ways to make your squad feel like yours. It does make me wonder why there are only a handful of possible faces to round out all these options, but that is a minor quibble. XCOM 2 seems harder than Enemy Unknown, but in a satisfying way. Whenever a game builds up a reputation as punishing, there is always a risk that the developers will take it too far in the sequel, ramp up the difficulty in ways that don't seem fair. So far, that doesn't seem to be the case. The challenge is stiffer, but it comes from a more varied and tactically interesting set of options and enemies than a brute force buff to enemy stats. While the aliens have always outnumbered the XCOM force, the imbalance is even greater here. Even in early missions you'll run into stacked odds. This is mitigated by the new concealment mechanic which allows your squad to move freely in stealth to setup a devastating ambush before the fight begins in earnest. Play your cards right, and you can trap the aliens in a crossfire straight out of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. It's almost unhealthy how satisfying it feels to drop three aliens on your very first turn of combat. Not that you'll always have time to get that ambush in motion. Timed missions and pressure conditions are more common in XCOM 2, urging you and your squad to overextend and take stupid risks in an effort to beat the clock. In these situations, trying to set up that ideal ambush situation can hamstring you in the end when you run out of turns to complete the mission. You have to get a feel for when you need to rush and when you have time to get cheeky. I've already managed to lose a couple of squad members (including Jane Kelly, the named tutorial character with spoken dialog; hope she's not supposed to show up in more story stuff later on!) and I expect they are far from the last. Despite playing hundreds of hours of Enemy Unknown and Enemy Within, XCOM 2 has done enough to change up the formula to make fighting the aliens an unpredictable, surprising, and scary experience. I wouldn't have it any other way. I'm going to need more time to beat the game, test the other difficulty options, and try out multiplayer before I'll be able to issue a final verdict. (2K Games only provided us a copy on the day before launch for some reason so unfortunately we're playing catch-up. Sorry!) So far, though, XCOM 2 is an impressive feat. A total improvement to a game that I already thought was pretty damn close to perfect. I've yet to pull out its guts, but if the first few hours are any indication, this is going to be one hell of an alien autopsy. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
XCOM 2 review in prog photo
Welcome back, commander
I've only had a few hours with XCOM 2, Firaxis Games' follow-up to its 2012 XCOM: Enemy Unknown and I can already tell it's a different beast. At its core, it is still the same isometric turn-based strategy game it has always...

GDC awards photo
GDC awards

Bethesda's Todd Howard to receive GDCA Lifetime Achievement Award


Directed Fallouts 3-4, Oblivion, Skyrim
Feb 05
// Steven Hansen
Hot on the heels of Fallout 4, Todd Howard, director of later The Elder Scrolls and Bethesda's Fallout 3 and 4, will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 16th annual Game Developers Choice Awards in March. Fallo...

Humble Monthly Bundle has 70K subscribers

Feb 05 // Jordan Devore
Graham says subscriptions are at a point where "we can make meaningful deals with game developers to secure great content, we get to write our featured charity a $30,000+ check, and, because we can predict revenues fairly accurately, we've even started funding some small gaming projects, Humble Originals, that you won't find anywhere else and that our subscribers will get to play first." Supporting charities is a big part of the company's identity, whether it's giving back ten percent of proceeds from the Humble Store, five percent from Monthly subs, or left up to the user to decide in name-your-price bundles. I asked how they arrived at that amount for this service. "It's always tricky to craft a new business model," said Graham. "When we launched Humble Monthly, we had to do a lot of guesswork about the best way to frame everything so that we could get the product off the ground. By giving ourselves more flexibility with which we can use to pay for game content, I think we have helped the product be more successful and more sustainable, which I believe will actually mean more money for charity in the long run." Today is the first Friday of the month, which means February's games are unlocked for existing members. The full lineup is Alien: Isolation, Titan Souls, Broken Age, Volume, Penarium, Dropsy, Elephant in the Room (one of the "Humble Originals" made specifically for subscribers), and a "sneak peek demo" of Planetoid Pioneers with custom content. The early unlock for next month's bundle is Ark: Survival Evolved, that open-world game with ridable dinosaurs. Folks who sign up now will get immediate access to the title, but it's too late to secure February's offerings.
Humble Monthly Bundle photo
February's games revealed
Last year, Humble began a new monthly bundle service. The basic idea is that on the first Friday of each month, subscribers receive a batch of undisclosed PC games. One of the featured titles is always announced and made avai...

Pokemon Nendoroid photo
Pokemon Nendoroid

Red and Blue battle it out as the newest Pokemon Nendoroid figures


Gary was here, Ash is a loser!
Feb 05
// Ben Davis
It's getting hard to keep up with all these awesome and adorable Nendoroid figures! Coming soon are new figures for the Pokémon trainer and his rival from Pokémon Red and Blue, as well as Mew. As with all Nendor...

Review: Tachyon Project

Feb 05 // Chris Carter
Tachyon Project (PC, PS4 [reviewed], Xbox One)Developer: Eclipse GamesPublisher: Eclipse GamesReleased: July 15, 2015 (PC, Xbox One), Jan 19, 2016 (PS4)MSRP: $9.99 Tachyon, as the name probably suggests, is housed upon a foundation that involves a cheesy cyberpunk hacking plot. Players are placed into a dystopian future of sorts, hacking police stations and corrupt governments by way of a tiny ship. In a way, it's kind of like the setup for the Sly Cooper spinoff Bentley's Hack Pack, but a lot more serious. And really, there is a bit of charm there, especially if you dig the cyberpunk aesthetic. I commend Eclipse Games for trying something other than the "menu to shooting" approach, and it helps ground the campaign a bit and give the whole affair meaning. Some light commentary during missions also helps make things interesting while you're blasting away. The soundtrack, like the story, has a muted, chill feeling to it, which I dig. While Happy Hardcore songs during bullet hell dodging is great, I like the low key electronica soundtrack here, as it meshes well with the game's dark hues and not-too-bright neon visuals. Gameplay-wise, Tachyon operates on a twin-stick control method, with two sets of power-ups mapped to two buttons. That's all you really need to know, and once you start progressing on your journey, more options will open up. The shooting bits in general work well, and I like how using your normal cannon has a recoil effect (but not jarringly so) -- forcing players to course correct and get to know their ship a bit better. Players can also min-max stats by choosing a new chassis to suit their own style of play. I'm more of the defensive health-conscious player myself. Levels primarily stay engaging because of interesting enemy types. It's mostly stuff you've seen before, but black holes that suck up bullets, kamikaze ships, and generally aggressive AI will keep you on your toes. It's also easy to tell everything apart and identify its logic, so you don't have to constantly guess what a specific enemy type is. Tachyon Project isn't a remarkable shooter, but it's well-designed on several levels. There's no multiplayer to speak here, but with a decent campaign, lots of customization, and New Game+/Endless modes, you'll be perfectly fine going at it solo. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Tachyon Project photo
Hackin' like Jonny Lee Miller
While the shoot 'em up genre isn't the king it once was, more and more gems are coming out every passing year. New development studios are taking to Steam and mobile, and even Cave is coming out of the woodwork to become rele...


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