In David Crane's classic NES game A Boy and His Blob: Trouble on Blobolonia, you directly control the actions of a boy and through him, indirectly, those of a Blobolonian (from here on referred to as a "blob".) It is apparently a well-known fact that blobs can polymorph and assume the form and powers of a number of useful common objects. The key behind catalysing this metamorphosis is simple: jellybeans - the shape your boy's faithful blob will assume depends on what flavour of jellybean the boy tosses to the blob. (The control of the blob in this regard is similar to influence one could have exerted upon Ronald Reagan about the time the game came out.)

You begin the game in possession of varying quantities of a number of different flavours of jelly bean, some of which are initially useless and some (triggering important and multipurpose shapes) of which are in short supply indeed. Though it may seem as though any relation to the flavour of bean and the shape it results in is tenuous, further examination will reveal a pattern of puns, rhymes and alliteration making every connection almost unforgettable:

  • Licorice: One taste of this aniseed bonbon will send your blobbo skyrocketing into the shape of a ladder, permitting your boy (who regrettably lost his jump gland in a childhood accident) to ascend and decend to and from heights to which he might otherwise be unable to climb. There are 72 licorice jellybeans in the game, which would make more than enough for a game of snakes and ladders. Uh, if there was a snake-bean, which is regrettably lacking.
  • Strawberry: Tossing your blob a strawberry-flavoured jellybean inspires him to slither up to the nearest gap and span it, bridging the sides providing it doesn't spread him too thin. You might think that this is just the horizontal equivalent of the vertical Licorice Ladder, but you would be sadly mistaken, so don't waste turning any of the 15 strawberry beans sideways in an attempt to fool the blob's sense of gravity.
  • Coconut: The coconut-flavoured jellybean surprisingly turns your blob into (betcha can't guess) a coconut! However, bowling ball would make a better description - in this shape your blob can roll like nobody's business and knock things over, but you can't put the lime in it at all! You start with six of these, a fine bunch of coconuts indeed.
  • Cola: I know slamming back a nice cold j0lt cola gives me a proclivity towards belching, but that pales compared to the effect it has upon your stalwart blob, who practically turns into a giant burp-bubble. If you can transcend the gross-out factor, you can step inside the bubble to lighten a fall or float across water. Due to interference from Coca-Cola's legal staff, only 18 of these gas-inducing beans were permitted to appear in the game.
  • Cinnamon: This hot stuff puts your blob in the mood for a little fire, so he shrinks down to the (very portable) size of a little blowtorch and spouts little puffs of flame - just perfect for singeing through occasional obstacles (such as, say, spider's webs). 24 of these are available for the pyromaniac in all of us.
  • Apple: this fruit gives us our first lame pun mnemonic: upon eating of this forbidden, uh, candy, rather than gaining knowledge of good and evil your blob turns into an apparatus more frequently used to hold up automobiles while changing flat tires - that is, an apple jack. You might be reminded of this godawful pun a dozen times throughout the course of the game.
  • Vanilla: It's not just for ice cream anymore! Sucking back one of your 30 smooth vanilla jelly beans turns your blob into an umbrella, which kind of rhymes but doesn't really. (Why couldn't it have changed into a gorilla instead? Everybody loves gorillas!) In addition to protecting you from whatever inclement weather you may find in the subterranean caverns, use of this parasol will protect your noggin from debris tumbling down from overhead and will, in a glorious display of video game physics, permit you to gracefully glide down off of tall ledges rather than plummeting perilously to your quick and messy demise.
  • Tangerine: This tasty treat turns your blob into a much better-scanning rhyme, a trampoline for use in those tight spots where a ladder just won't cut it. The first one to assign significance to the 42 beans of this flavour you're dealt gets a punch to the kisser.
  • Root Beer: Now if I were making this game it would turn your blob into an inner tube or water wings or somesuch so it would be a root beer float. However, in this one case David Crane seems to have employed some restraint - well, if candy-powered interplanetary travel is your idea of restraint. Root beer jellybeans turn your blob into a rocket, which eventually takes you (1st class) to Blobolonia itself. Presumably you only need to undergo this change once, yet you are queerly equipped with six of the beans, perhaps in case perhaps you miss with the first five.
  • Honey: This gooey confection turns your blob into a fluttery little hummingbird who can go places your blob in its native form cannot, such as up staircases. You start the game with 52 of these beans, which far exceeds the number of staircases in the game.
  • Ketchup: Yes, I know what you are thinking: BLECCH! Apparently, your blob feels much the same way - as the instruction booklet tells us, There is one jellybean flavor that Blob detests: KETCHUP! In fact, if he accidentally ate one, he'd be petrified. This is no exaggeration - if you can manage to feed one to your blob (requiring a quick switcheroo with a preceeding honey bean - the blob will otherwise keep its mouth shut like a stubborn 8-month-old) it will transmogrify into an untouchable and unusable brick wall, albeit one featuring a pair of googily eyes. Do not, however, underestimate the realisation of pun potential the game creator permitted when sadistically contemplating the grim reality of ketchup-flavoured jelly beans. Since your blob is a slow hopper and atrocious at stairs, this bean helps you reconvene - if you have left your blob behind, it will reappear where this bean lands after throwing it, helping it catch up. I'm not yet clear on whether the pun is better or worse than the notion of ketchup-flavoured candy, but they're both pretty vile. You possess six of these abominations.
  • Punch: If you thought the last pun was nasty, look out - in a Yellow Submarine-esque turn of events, feeding your blob a bean that tastes like punch will turn him into a hole through whatever surface he happens to be resting on. That's right - the bean helps you punch holes through things. 54 of these are available, and if you're lucky you stop groaning by the time you've exhausted half of them.
  • Lime: In a comparitively mild pun, your blob turns into a key when fed a lime-flavoured jelly bean. Key lime - get it? You only have to put up with this sort of childish twaddle twice.
  • Orange: Wholly lacking in rhyme potential, this jelly bean will turn your blob into a weapon of mass nutrition, the VitaBlaster gun, force-feeding vitamins to the baddies back on Blobolonia. Presumably this approach also works for household pets. You eventually find 45 of these.
  • Grape: The elusive and enigmatic grape jelly bean is given a single mention in the game manual along all of the above flavours but has to date remained unspotted (and untasted) by any and all players of the game. We can only guess that it was taken off the market after links were proven that consuming the purple dye resulted in birth defects rendering your newborn as pliant and formless as the heroic blob.
The jellybeans in this game play one more often-ignored function - if you toss a bean over a ledge you visually get to follow its descent screen by screen until it lands on something. But really - why waste good candy on that sort of thing when a solid loogie will do fine?

In the event that my vivid descriptions of the subtlest aspects of this game inspire you to fire up the old emulator and give it a whirl, only to realise your own incompetance and ineptitude in blob-wrangling and candy-rationing, I will conclude with a list of Game Genie codes pertaining to these delicious, delictable confectionaries:

    101 of each starting jellybean:
      SZXLXKSU and
      YYXLUGEY
    Unlimited jellybeans:
      AAVKIPPA
    10 Orange jellybeans:
      APEUUIAA
    10 Lime jellybeans:
      AONUSGAA
    99 Licorice jellybeans:
      OONLOGZN
    Double Strawberry jellybeans:
      AUNLUGIP
    Double Cola jellybeans:
      TUNLNKAP
    Double Cinnamon jellybeans:
      AKNUOGGX
    Double Apple jellybeans:
      GXNUUGZP
    Double Vanilla jellybeans:
      AVNUNGAL
    Double Ketchup jellybeans (barfff!):
      ZPELNITA (clearly an attempt to phoneticise the noise you make after attempting to eat two)
    Triple Coconut jellybeans:
      AONLSGTE
    Triple Root Beer jellybeans:
      APELUITE

I cannot begin to adequately express how dismal this game turned out to be. It really could have been so much more. That's not to say it doesn't have its charms, but I have to wonder where things went wrong during this game's development.

The object of the game is to help the Blob, a jellybean-eating space alien, defeat the evil king of his home planet Blobolonia, and return vitamins and healthy eating to the homeworld. Feeding the Blob flavors of jellybeans causes him to turn into a different object that can be used to overcome obstacles (making the Blob almost a precursor to the other eat-and-absorb-powers hero of the Nintendo world — Kirby). The available jellybeans and their powers include...

The graphics are unrefined, even for NES standards. Super Mario Bros.'s blocky shapes had more flash and dazzle than the graphics in this title. Colors are dark, concentrating on browns and blacks found in the underworld sewer levels, and then turn to green and blue for the Blobolonia portion of the game. The Blob is the only half-way decently animated character has be bobs along the ground and smiles as he eats a jellybean. The Boy (nameless, by the way) only has a simple walking animation as well as a death pose. One hit kills The Boy, so players end up seeing the death pose quite a lot. Furthermore, if anything happens to the Blob, The Boy dies as well.

The underworld sewer levels consist of caverns and water hazards and if The Boy takes a wrong turn he'll find himself stuck in a place where it's impossible to return to the surface world to continue the game. My advice is not to venture too deep into the caverns. It may be tantalizing to pick up all the treasures and earn a high score, but you'll never make it out of the sewers alive.

Why bother with the underworld and its treasures at all? The second part of the game takes place on the Blob's home planet of Blobolonia, and after surviving the hazards of the fields and candy factory, The Boy will come across a locked door. The door can only be opened by feeding the Blob a lime jellybean, and the lime jellybean can only be found underground back on Earth in a bag of extra jellybeans. Finding these beans also gives access to the orange jellybean which turns the Blob into a blaster, but this weapon has no particular use that I could find. Vitamins (aka ammo) could be purchased at the vitamin shop, but nothing in the game was effected by these shots. I eventually came to not even bother using it.

I had high hopes for the title. After all, David Craine and Absolute created it and when it was released in 1989 the game scene was due for another big smash hit. It was packaged in an orange box that practically demanded attention. In the end what probably began as a great idea with lots of potential wound up as this poorly implemented mess. The game spawned a sequel which suffered from many of the same problems in 1991 (The Rescue of Princess Blobette), but I can honestly see why there was no Super Boy And His Blob or A Boy And His Blob 64. Just to prove that someone out there has some good judgment, the proposed A Boy And His Blob Advance for Game Boy Advance has been canceled.


References:
I actually bought this game back in the day. Nintendo Power made it look good.

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