There is so much energy in Teenage Blob that even the on-screen text seems to shake and shudder and tremble. Why wouldn’t it? This is such a weird and brilliant project – half EP, half mini-game collection. The Superweaks (a band) recorded six new songs. Team Lazerbeam (a development team) made six new games. Then everything got flung together in a sketchy celebration of punk and the brilliant/terrible lost years between 16 and 19. Rotten jobs. Gigs. Set lists. The energy of it!
In a way it strikes me as a game/album about the similarities between games and albums. I’m guessing music gets pretty hard to pick apart in the studio – hard to know where an idea comes from and who exactly did what. There’s a similar hectic sketchiness to the games here, a sense that loads of stuff was thrown in and the muddle sorts itself out only when you’re playing.
There’s a throughline – you’re off to buy some new shoes and make it to a gig – but it’s the thinnest of threads. Instead this is just a wonderful mass of chaos to mash through in half an hour, and emerge blinking on the other side.
My favourite game here is probably Paperperson – a spin on Paperboy in which you deliver sandwiches rather than newspapers. The sandwiches have a lovely vicious weight to them, whether they’re headed for a mailbox or someone’s window, and I’m constantly surprised by the obstacles that litter the path. Run away lawnmowers, dogs, manhole covers. And then – was that…?
The feel of the game is wonderful – there’s a tension and spring to the controls that was entirely missing in the original Paperboy. Other games are similarly lovely to mess around with – a Guitar Hero number, a spin on Tony Hawk skateboarding trickery, onwards and upwards, all of them filled with funny asides and breaks and dialogue options and what the silent comedians used to call “bits of business.”
EPs need a bit of structure, of course, and Teenage Blob builds to a euphoric climax that I shouldn’t spoil – I couldn’t take notes because I couldn’t stop laughing – and then a coda that introduces a note of genuine heartache. I didn’t expect to be moved by a game called Teenage Blob, but that probably says more about me than anything else alas.
I’m left now putting it all together in my mind. And preparing to play it again. Teenage Blob is a rush of fun and sometimes unstable energy and sadness. A bit like being a teenager, I guess.