The level design offers a nicely scalable level of difficulty, with novice players simply able to concentrate on getting the duo to the end of each stage, while more determined types can try and find the three secret treasure chests hiding in trickier areas. These chests unlock bonus stages, one for each of the game's 40 story levels, so successful play essentially doubles your entertainment.
Control is crisp and intuitive, with the Z button bringing up a circular jelly bean selector, and the B trigger tossing the selected confection for Blob to gobble up. Hold the trigger down and you can aim your throw, essential for later puzzles where getting Boy and Blob to different areas without losing their interaction is vital. A tap on the C button calls out to Blob, but if he's unable to reach you there's always the option to toss him a blue jelly bean. This transforms him into a balloon, capable of reaching Boy wherever he is, freeing the player up from the fear of getting stuck permanently. Whatever your position, Blob can bounce, float or carry you to safety, somehow.
What you don't get is any choice in which jelly beans to equip - each level gives you only the beans you'll need, and even prompts you where to use them in the early stages with enormous banners. While there's a more distinct challenge in solving the puzzles using a restricted tool set, it does lead to some claustrophobia over the full length of the game. A little more freedom to find your own solution, rather than simply working out which one the developer chose, would nudge the game closer to true greatness. Once you've got a grasp on what each bean can do, the difficulty curve flattens out considerably and experienced puzzlers will likely romp to the end of the story without too much trouble.
Even with these minor considerations, A Boy and His Blob is one of the more confident and worthwhile games to grace the Wii and its appeal is only heightened further by the exquisitely charming presentation. There seems to have been a plethora of whimsical hand-drawn 2D games recently, but there's a simple grace to this low-key tale that makes it more than a cheesy affectation.
There are moments of humble beauty, such as when Boy and Blob tramp through a nocturnal forest to Boy's house entirely in silhouette, but even the normal gameplay is enlivened by the warmth of the art style. If you'll forgive the bizarrely specific comparison, it looks like a French-Canadian TV cartoon from the mid eighties, all muted tones, sunset haze and soft edges. Even the hardest gaming heart will have to crack just a little when you discover that, for no reason other than sheer loveliness, pressing up on the d-pad makes Boy give Blob a big hug, with an accompanying sigh of contentment.
That's the game in a nutshell. There's no sense of urgency or pressure to break the mood. It's a game that invites you to wallow in its languid depths, wriggle your toes, stretch your brain a little and take in the view. So satisfying and immersive is this distinctive experience that even some rather ill-advised boss battles can't ruin the autumnal ambience. Gently challenging without being frustrating, and quietly ingenious in its construction, A Boy and His Blob is one of the Wii's sweetest surprises.