There was a moment in the embarrassingly shabby Mr Blobby when I felt things weren’t that bad. I’d been playing for about three hours on a single credit and completed maybe a third of the game’s 60 levels, when I found myself no longer actively hating it.
The alternately clumsy and slack movement of the characters, the ambiguous percentage-painted target you needed to reach to finish a screen, the awkward joystick-to-move-but-space-to-fire controls and the tediously identical monsters had ceased to hurt me mentally.
But I was living a lie. The foul program had drunk deeply at the pool of my will, and I was functioning automatically. Only pop music could save me now, except I don’t like pop music.
Mr Blobby is Super Troll Island (a poor SNES paint-the-screen platformer), "from an original game by Tim Closs" as the credits pull it.
You run around the screen, colouring in the floor. When the screen is sufficiently coloured in, you move to the next level. There are bonus screens. You get power-ups. Failure to finish a screen in time results in your being chased by a killer cloud. The music is unswervingly chipper. The graphics are agonisingly bright. It is THE IRREDEEMABLE DISCIPLE OF THE SUBTERRANEAN HIGH LORD. Let us examine the shabbiness of the enterprise.
Super Troll Island
The first location of the game is Mr Blobby’s house. From here you can choose to be Blobby, Mrs Blobby or their repugnant child. The characters differ only in appearance ( in Super Troll Island the trio has complementary abilities) and after selecting one you have to wait for the level to load.
You can swap between characters at any point (if the one you’re playing has tripped over the ‘go slower’ icon, for example, or if you’re stuck in the top of the screen thanks to the shoddy programming) which involves reloading the character screen and jumping at a different blob, then reloading the level again to reappear exactly where you left off. Why not avoid all the disk accessing by swapping the characters with F1, F2 and F3, or something?
Playing reveals similar amateurishness, from the major (jumping can far too easily carry you through the ceiling to land on the platform above, stepping off ladders on to a ledge is absurdly difficult, no indication is given of how much of the level needs to be coloured in, so you don’t know if you’re supposed to chance walking over that spiked platform or not, falling too far destroys vital platforms – for God’s sake) to the trivial (Blobby doesn’t even say "Blobby Blobby" when he gets hit.)
And everything mimics the worst 8-bit games: the painting is blocky, the irritatingly stupid monsters move on linear paths and the later levels are pointlessly booby-trapped so if you do something wrong at the beginning of the screen you won’t be able to complete it – but of course, you’re not told you’re wasting your time carrying on.
To its credit, the levels are extremely large and introduce new eleents (springs spikes, swinging chains and so on), and weapons are handled unusually intelligently. Blobby can pick up objects and chuck them around, and can shoot at any point (as opposed to, for example, being defenceless when he’s on a ladder or something) and the monsters commendably stay dead. But, um, that’s about it.
The game’s exceptionally easy (you’ll only get killed by being caught out by the flaws) and if you can overcome your understandable apathy, you’ll probably complete it first go.