Sociology GCSE examination paper. Question 2 (c). The amorphous blob in late 20th century culture has been represented as a monstrous evil, metaphorically representing the'horrors' of communism and losing one's freedom of self-expression. Discuss.
While it is true that in films such as The Blob and in numerous SF and superhero comics of the fifties and sixties the amorphous blob has been represented as the villain, there has been a marked move away from this viewpoint in the last decade. This was spearheaded by the ground-breaking animated series Trap Door, which featured a character called Drut. Support for the 'blob as hero' trend has continued from a rather surprising sector - computr games. Characters as Putty and, indeed, Blob have forced the public to rethink their attitude towards the amorphous blobs. In this essay, however, I shall be concentrating on the game Globdule to present my case.
Globdule is a classic amorphous blob exhibiting all the requisite characteristics. He is small and virtually featureless except for the boiled-egg eyes. He is extremely pliable, bounces better than an Arthur Daley cheque and absorbs thing, including his enemies.
The story, however, is completely atypical. Globdule does not rampage through Tokyo destroying skyscrapers, or even splat-snogging small-town teenagers by entering their Buick through the exhaust pipe, as standard blobby behaviour would have us expect. No, he wants to become a toy, and the only way that can happen is by travelling through some catacombs, absorbing everything in his path.
In fact, the plot is about as relevant to the fabric of the universe as knitted doll toilet roll covers (the irony of plots being the last thing to be thought about in the creation of a computer game is covered in 'Stories, Schmories, Where's The Gimmick' by Professor I Dunnow).
Globdule is a cutesy platformer, and conforms to all the ground rules of cutesy platformers. Indeed, the term 'cutesy platformer' has taken on a pejorative meaning and has come to be used as a term of derision as in, "Oh no, not another cutesy platformer, I'd rather stick my head down a toilet!". But in the case of Globdule, it can be seen that this prejudice is very unfair, much the same way as amorphous blobs being seen as evil rampaging monsters is unfair. It is al done with such style it overcomes the facts that its roots show more than Cindy's on Eastenders.
Globby bounces and creeps through a series of caverns collecting fruit (for energy) and stars (for extra lives). In each cavern he also has to absorb a certain number of crystals and baddies before the exit opens and he can telepoprt to the next cavern. Baddies have to be stunned before they can be absorbed which Globby does by bouncing on them. Larger baddies need to be hit with a spinning jump; the larger the baddie the more Globby has to spin. When they have been successfully stunned they are repaird to a pair of eyes which Globby then picks up.
It is actually dead good fun and addictive
The nearest thing the game has to an original gimmick is that Globby sticks to anything - walls, ceilings, bushes, all the cutesy platformer clichés - and the direction he bounces often depends on the angle of the surface he is on before he launches. You can also control Globby inflight which can make for some spectacular aerobatic which, on some levels, are crucial to be able to rach particular ledges or keys.
Keys. Ah, yes. Another of those platform clichés. Yes, in Globdule you have to find keys to unlock doors. Things really do not sound good for this game, do they? But do not judge too harshly, because, like the amorphous blob, it should not be condemned by its predecessors. It is actually dead good fun and instantly addictive.
It looks great, it plays well and the learning curve is pitched perfectly. Graphically it gets off to a slow start (the first level is a bit dingy) but pretty soon it turns into a visual treat with some brilliant daft nasties (the mad cow is my personal favourite) and some superbly bizarre and colourful locations, some of which seem to be the product of an imagination so fevered it ought to see a doctor pretty soon. And some of the levels are huge You are lulled into a sense of familiarity with the first cavern, which is only one screen big, but they soon grow to epic proportions in which finding the exit is tricky enough, let alone collecting all the necessaries.
Each new level has some new challenge and some great new nasties that keep the gameplay fresh. It is the little incidental details, such as the scuba gear that appears when Globby reaches an underwater section and the slidey surfaces which appear when you least expect (or want) them, which help lift Globdule out of the average and into the really quite good, as it happens.
There is more than one route through the catacombs, which means there are loads of levels to bounce through. Plus each level has a number of caverns, making Globdule a pretty meaty game, one with a decent life in it (unlike the teenagers in the amorphous blob films of the 50s).
Er, anway, in conclusion and getting back to the case I point. Globdule is one of the new breed of amorphous blobs, who, along with Putty, is proving that having no limbs does not make you a bad entity per se. It is a shame that the game he appears in is so derivative, as it could lead to accusations of him being a poor imitation of Putty and a dozen or so other cutesy latforms games, and to be honest, it is not as good a game. But it is still good. Darned good. Globdule deserves to be recognised for this great contribution to this genre.