Monday, 30 March 2015

Mr Blobby (Amiga)

Mr Blobby Title screen Amiga
Developer:Freestyle|Release Date:1994|Systems:Amiga

Blobby blobby Blobby Blobby, Blobby blobby blobby blobby blobby Blobby Blobby blobby blobby Blobby! Holy shit I hate this character and everything related to him.

If you're one of the lucky ones who've gone through your whole life blissfully unaware of this guy's existence, Mr Blobby started out as part of a segment called 'Gotcha' on 90s British light entertainment program 'Noel's House Party', where celebrities would get punk'd in a manner not unlike American hidden camera show 'Punk'd'. Mr Blobby was one of the practical jokes, designed to deliberately wind up a celebrity who thought they were interacting with a legitimate established character for an episode of a kid's TV show. Blobby would drive the unwitting guest to the very edge of homicide with his antics, then take off his head to reveal that it was famous TV host Noel Edmunds in the suit the whole time!

Obviously the series couldn't keep up the joke past the first airing as everyone would know Blobby was a fake... but the character kept turning up anyway! Then he started turning up in other shows too; he had become a celebrity in his own right. Mr Blobby merchandise filled the shops. By 1995 he had TWO top 40 songs in the UK charts, the first so bad that one critic accused him of trying to "kill music". He had no less than THREE failed theme parks! And he also had a video game, which I've been asked to play for you.



Oh crap there's a Blobby family. How did I forget there was an entire Blobby family? Man I just noticed that his baby has a bow tie. Even his house has a bow tie! His huge pink mansion of a house, bought with his merchandise royalties.

So that's the whole intro then? On the way back home from a walk with his wife and young child, Mr Blobby is distracted by paparazzi and accidentally tips the pram over, catapulting his baby out onto the pavement. Everyone laughs. And the Mr Blobby theme plays on, complete with multiple "blobby blobby blobby" sound clips. Because that's all the guy can say, you know: entire sentences of just 'blobby'. He only knows the one word, but he says it with enthusiasm.

You know what the worst bit of all this is though? The part that cuts deep into my soul and shreds my fragile spirit? No it's not the frame rate, it's that I'm actually finding the music kind of catchy.

Oh thank fuck! Well that bouncing text explains it: if anyone could take the Mr Blobby theme and remix it into something bearable, it'd be legendary Chaos Engine/Cannon Fodder/James Pond composer Richard Joseph. I don't feel so bad any more.

That logo's not looking so good though. It looks a mouldy piece of carved cheese that's been nibbled by undiscriminating rats.

Hey, the game lets me redefine my controls! That's unusually thoughtful for an Amiga game... wait, hang on, "Other Controls"? So I can't play it with joystick alone, I have to use the keyboard as well? It's far from the only Amiga game to do this, but the others tend to use the keyboard for things like 'open map' not 'throw' or 'eat'!

Most Amiga owners at the time would've had their computers plugged into a regular television like a console, and with a game like this you'd expect to be able to put the disk in, grab the joystick and go sit back on a couch or something while it automatically loaded. You can play an entire game on the thing without ever touching a key. This on the other hand apparently expects you to be leaning over the keyboard the entire time. Doesn't seem ideal to me.


30 SECONDS OF DISK ACCESS LATER.


Right, I'm finally in the game, or Blobby's house at least. This is where our hero's family spends their afternoons sitting perfectly still and blinking.

There's a few things about this place that stand out to me as being a bit weird. The pink spotted moose head on the wall for instance, that raises a few questions. Also they have books and awards on their shelves, and there's no way these people have ever won anything, read anything, or left anything intact on a shelf in their proximity.

Plus the house itself does not match the exterior! This would have to be the second floor, that door should be a window, and the window at the back should be looking out at the side of another house. In the middle of a city. OH SHIT I JUST NOTICED THE SUN.

Man, the sun is way too into watching these three blink.

Oh wait, I've figured it out! They must all be watching Noel's House Party on a TV just out of shot! That explains their dazed expressions and forced smiles.

Anyway, this seems to be a character select room to let me choose my desired Blobby. I don't much desire any of them though, so I'm heading straight for the door.

Okay, so the game's a platformer then. Not a huge shock, though the colour-cycling tiled weed background is a bit of a surprise.

Well that's interesting, it turns out that this isn't your typical platformer. I'm bringing colour to this bleak landscape with my magic feet, transforming... damn it's just occured to me that Mr Blobby is naked.

*Put it out of your mind, put it out of your mind, put it out of your mind.*

Okay, the level starts out grey, but every step I take with my magic bare feet transforms the stage, painting the ground beneath me with colour (and pretty good colour for an Amiga game at that). The music even manages to play music and sound effects simultaneously, which is something the critically beloved Zool couldn't manage when I played that back in January. I can't believe this Mr Blobby game is making other games look bad

I was wondering what was going to happen when I painted every tile on the screen. Turns out that an explosion spits out several items of food across the stage for me, in much the same way as the Big Bang spat out all matter in the universe. Now I've got a few seconds to go around and eat as many objects as I can with that special non-joystick 'eat' button I defined earlier.

What's weird is that it doesn't matter how much I eat, Blobby doesn't get any extra life back. His health is represented by a cake, and yet food is only for score.

Oh it's evil mist that's turning everything grey? Fair enough then.

Nice to see that the bouncy text has returned. Games just don't seem to have bouncy text any more, and that's a shame I reckon. Because I'm easily impressed by simple things.

The level two password is 'BABE' huh? Stay classy Blobby.

Though it's nice to see that the game has passwords. I mean it'd be nicer if some other better 90s platformer had the passwords instead, but it's certainly preferable to no passwords.


LEVEL 02.


I've found a pirate hat that lets me dive underwater! Handy considering that there's all these eggs down here. I can also throw hats (and eggs) at crabs to make them explode (using that non-joystick 'throw' key I defined earlier).

Well now that I know that I can destroy my enemies, I'm going to go wipe the level clean of the vermin. This place is quite a bit bigger than that single screen stage at the start, with way more tiles to paint and plenty of room for beach violence.

Oh, I don't even need to be holding an object to attack creatures? Seems I can launch custard pies at them from my private stash. Or just shoot them with the gun I've just found. Either way I presume that if I don't run into them to finish the job they're just going to come back.

That GIF up there demonstrates two things. First, the pies seem to have a degree of randomness in their trajectory meaning that I can't be sure they're going to land where I want them to, and second, if I complete a loop the whole thing is filled in, Volfied-style. This is actually really useful, as it means I can easily spot which areas I haven't finished yet. I don't have to paint the whole stage you see, just get all the loops.


LEVEL 03.


Wow, you think you've got enough grinning faces there? Actually I've got a better question: why did the game give me the swimming hat on a castle level with no water? Huh, huh?

Oh hang on, there's a tiny moat down here next to the castle. I should've known better than to question the logic of Blobby world.


LEVEL 04.


And now we're in space, where the enemies move quicker but the gameplay is exactly the same! I get why K-9 from 'Doctor Who' is making a cameo (sans laser), buy why am I also fighting sentient fireballs here in the one level theme set in a place without oxygen?

You know what the weirdest thing about this stage is though? I'm genuinely impressed by the pixel art here. Those are some good shiny metal cylinders and the glass domes ain't bad either. I'm less impressed by the way I'm frequently standing with my head off the screen at times, so that I disappear off camera entirely when I jump, but that's not exclusive to this level. The Super Mario Bros. games could get away with this, but here it's really awkward.

Oops, Blobby got rammed by a high speed K-9 and lost his last slice of health-cake, so now I'm playing as Mrs Blobby instead. It seems that these guys are my lives, and when I'm out of Blobbys it's game over.

Then I just enter the last password I got and continue where I left off with a full set! Theoretically.


LEVEL 05


Oh man, I was not expecting them to have a level set in hell. That face looks so much like the shark on the poster for Jaws that I have to assume it's a deliberate reference. Carclownodon carcharias, the big grey clown.

I'm playing as the baby now, having sent both his parents to an early bedtime due to my carelessness and it turns out he can walk and jump just fine, so I don't know what that pram was about in the intro. In fact the whole family can basically jump the entire height of the screen in this, which I don't believe is actually Blobby canon. Mr Blobby was usually pretty floor-bound in his TV appearances I recall.

Here's a shot of the clown in colour, just to satisfy your curiosity. The screenshot might seem a bit repetitious, like it's just repeating the same thing the last one was about, but that's what this game is! Every level is basically a repeat of the last level with a new theme and different ladders, and the themes eventually loop around. The layout is different, the enemies change, but I don't feel like I ever get to do anything new.

(MS-DOS)
Here's another shot of the clown in colour, this time on PC! The screenshot might seem a bit repetitious, like it's just repeating the same thing the last one was about, but that's what this game is!

The DOS version isn't exactly the same as the Amiga game though. The art's a little different, the level design is slightly tweaked, and the Blobbys seems to have a lot more momentum to them. It has more colours on screen too, but you can judge for yourself if you think it's better looking.


BONUS LEVEL.


Oh hang on, this is new! I've got a big timer in the middle of the screen, but there's nothing around that needs colourising. I guess I'm just here to grab as many points and hats as I can.

I stitched a few screenshots together to make this image because that shiny metallic burger deserves to be seen in its full majesty. The only creature that exists in nature that'd be able to fit that 12 storey whopper into their mouth is a big grey clown, but that's fine because I found this egg for my lunch. You wouldn't want to eat any of this floating food anyway, a Blobby baby has been walking all over it.


LEVEL 09.


I've found another new feature! I can push this block over and it covers up part of the spikes! And now all that craziness is over with I can get back to climbing ladders and throwing pies at robot dogs. Actually, I've just remembered that I don't want to, so I'll quickly check what the game over screen looks like and then I'll turn this off.


LEVEL 10.


Wow, that's all I get? No gruesome Blobby death scene? No shot of Blobby in hell experiencing eternal torment? He exploded a bit I suppose, but that was barely worth the effort of standing perfectly still and sacrificing him to a grumpy clown.

You want to know what's really weird about this game though? It actually started out as a Trolls game and was rebranded to cash in on the bigger fad in the UK at the time. Or the cheaper licence, I don't know.

Super Troll Islands title screen
Super Troll Islands (SNES)
All I know is that if you put Super Troll Islands into your Super Nintendo and flick the on switch, you will eventually be faced with these troll creatures inside a kind of familiar shaped room:

Super Troll Islands (SNES)
Granted there are four of them this time and the decor looks nothing alike, but if I walk out through the mirror on the left...

Super Troll Islands (SNES)
...I walk right into level one of Mr Blobby! And there's your creepy sun back again, really getting into the music.

It's not exactly the same, but the the layout and graphics are very similar to the DOS version of the Blobby game. It even has the bouncy text!

Super Troll Islands (SNES)
This... isn't what Nintendo's engineers had in mind when they created the SNES's advanced sprite scaling hardware. How is even possible that the Mr Blobby game is less disturbing and ugly than the game it was made out of?

Super Troll Islands (SNES)
I can't tell if the guy is panicking because he just realised he's swinging over a spike pit, or he's excited about getting his hands on that top hat up there. Not sure it's a great idea to keep drawing attention to the fact that he wears clothes, but is naked from the gut down.

The games start to diverge after the first stage, and I'm not sure if it's because the levels are different or just in a different order. The levels come in blocks with the same theme this time instead of cycling to a new look each level, and of course the first world is set in a forest, complete with tree branches to jump on, as is mandated by platformer law.

There's also ropes to swing from, spikes to avoid, and some of those push blocks to push, and I've actually been having a harder time with it than with Mr Blobby, which was a total pushover on the first dozen levels I played through. So I can confirm that they're not actually the exact same game, though I'm similarly sick of playing both of them. They're mechanically actually pretty sound, and reasonably nice to look at, I'm just really tired of this gameplay.


CONCLUSION

Blobby blobby blobby blobby blobby blobby Blobby Blobby blobby blobby blobby blobby blobby blobby blobby blobby, blobby blobby blobby, blobby blobby blobby blobby blobby blobby. Blobby blobby blobby blobby blobby blobby blobby blobby blobby blobby blobby blobby blobby blobby blobby blobby blobby blobby. Blobby blobby blobby blobby blobby blobby blobby blobby Blobby Blobby blobby blobby blobby blobby blobby blobby blobby blobby blobby. Blobby blobby blobby blobby blobby blobby blobby 60 blobby!

Blobby blobby blobby blobby blobby blobby blobby blobby blobby blobby blobby blobby Blobby 500 blobby, blobby blobby blobby blobby blobby blobby blobby blobby blobby blobby blobby blobby blobby, blobby blobby blobby.

Either way, I doubt experiencing it will enrich your existence.


Well that's what I think about Mr Blobby, but perhaps you have a shockingly contrary opinion to share! Or maybe you just want to let me know what you think about my writing, some part of my site, or something else along those lines. Well unless you can find some kind of comment box located conveniently underneath this message then I guess you're out of luck! Sorry.

9 comments:

  1. The Trolls game on the Amiga was also reskinned as something else. It seems to keep happening with those little hairy beggars.

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  2. And now I'm sad for those theme parks.

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  3. Oh man I just saw a clip of Mr Blobby on TV. The conclusion and the ending make so much more sense to me now.

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    Replies
    1. It has just occurred to me that I explained who the guy is as the start for the people who aren't familiar with him, but I never mentioned once that he's got a speech impediment that means he can only say the word 'blobby'. Didn't think that through did I?

      Maybe I'll secretly edit it at some point to fix that.

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    2. No Ray, it was actually pretty clear to me that you added "bobbybobbybobby" because evidently it was all what the character said.
      If you edit something everytime one person doesn't get it, you'll edit that thing forever.

      Delete
    3. Don't worry, I've made some real terrible choices in my life, but I don't think there's any real danger of me getting stuck editing the same Mr. Blobby game post for the rest of all eternity. I don't have the attention span for it.

      Delete
  4. I wrote this game for the Amiga. Sorry about that.

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    Replies
    1. I should be thanking you for constructing another Amiga game for me to write about!

      Also thanks for reminding me that developers sometimes read my site, I really needed that in the back of my mind when I write, causing me to hesitate every time I try to criticise something. How am I supposed to be mean and jokey when I know that the person who worked for months making the thing might drop by! Honestly though I don't think I even found anything to criticise about the programming of Mr Blobby; it did not come across as a poorly put-together platformer port.

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    2. What can I say? It was my first job in the industry. I was young! I needed the money! :p

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