Two boys, a girl, a robot and a Blob
Clockwork Aquario and A Boy and His Blob offer two flavours of platformer on Switch
Blimey! Clockwork Aquario has just captured a Guinness World Record from Duke Nukem Forever. That’s right – it’s taken its rightful place at the top of the mountain as the Guinness-sanctioned Best Game Ever. ‘Course, I’m joking. It’s a gag! It’s actually – obviously – for longest time between development starting and the game’s release. Not sure what happened to Chips Challenge 2 in that equation, but nonetheless, congratulations to Clockwork Aquario for taking ruddy sodding ages to come out.
Was it worth it, though? Westone are best known for the Monster Land series and this is very much not one of those. A side-scrolling smack-‘n-throw-‘em-up, I’ve got to be completely honest and say that Clockwork Aquario, while an extremely impressive resurrection, isn’t that good of a video game.
Good stuff first – it looks awesome and the music is as catchy as you like. Visuals are the standout here, with big, chunky, colourful sprites that really pop off the screen. The animations are good, too, on both the three protagonists and enemies. It’s a shame that the collision feels consistently weird, with the rules for knocking out and picking up enemies seeming oddly slapdash to me.
It’s short, too, but that isn’t really a bad thing considering the repetition. Arcade games do be like that a lot of the time. Maybe it’s a little uncharitable, but I can see why this game got cancelled – I didn’t find it particularly interesting or inspiring outside of being a bit of a holy grail, a real curio. I’m very glad it was finally released and therefore removed Duke Nukem Forever from the history books forever, but I wish it had been as brilliant as it assuredly looks.
Blobby blobby blobby! Somebody hide Noel Edmonds (This reference is neither contemporary or international – Ed), because the Blob is back. The Blob from A Boy and His Blob, that is! Yes, this 2009 Wii-imagining of the classic NES title has finally made the leap to Switch and it’s a pleasure to report that all the charm of the cult side-scrolling puzzler has survived the smallification process (using its PS Vita port as a reference, no doubt).
If you haven’t played it, you take the role of “A Boy” and feed various jellybeans to “His Blob”, a little lump of adorbs that gains special abilities as per the flavour of bean – he can transform into a ladder, a hole, a cannon, or Masterchef presenter Gregg Wallace*. Utilising these abilities you’ve got to navigate forty tricky (but friendly) stages, and it’s all just really ruddy nice. There’s even a button you can smash to simply hug His Blob in the twee-est instance of twee-ness since, gawd, I dunno, erm… Steven Universe.
Anyway, in case it wasn’t obvious: It Good. Suits the Switch down to the ground and offers a nicely compelling experience and one of WayForward’s better games. It’s next to nothing like the original David Crane-designed NES title; for one thing, it isn’t anywhere near as difficult. It does, though, maintain a certain atmosphere which, married with spectacularly good hand-drawn animation, presents a polished product that looks as good as it feels.
*One of these transformations is an amusing falsehood. Try to figure out which one!