The original de Blob is one of those games that if you played it, you have fond memories and wish there were a sequel. If you didn’t, you likely are not aware and, if someone mentioned it, you probably only recall it as that “blob game on the Wii”. Well, if you haven’t experienced THQ’s de Blob, the sequel is a fantastic place to start. Whether you prefer the motion-controlled experience or HD visuals, THQ has everyone covered with their sequel, as it is now available on every console currently out. The best part is that you don’t need to have played the original to get in on the fun.
If you need to have narrative, de Blob does provide, although it truly is about as deep as the kiddy pool. The INKT Corporation is back up to no good, headed by the evil Comrade Black. He has once again brainwashed the citizens of Prisma City to rid their world of color, and it is up to the Color Underground to restore the color and, of course, save the day.
You play as de Blob and, like any other amorphous blob, you have a special power that allows you to take on properties of other stuff. In this case, it is paint. This is the whole premise behind the game and what drives the gameplay itself. As Blob, you can roll around in various colors and then paint buildings in order to free the city’s captives and restore color to the entire city. Later on, you will also be introduced to some 2D platform segments as well as some color-mixing puzzles, but for the most part the game is very much like the original, but with one exception.
The sequel seems to focus entirely on a timer. Every level has a constantly ticking clock. This forces you to constantly push forward and discourages exploration. I am still not entirely sure what purpose this serves, as the first game allowed exploration that was actually part of the fun. The premise behind the game lends itself to just messing around in the world and painting various objects. This newly added timer really defeats that. Granted, you can choose to linger around the world after completing it, but like most games, by that time you are ready for a new scenario and sticking around isn’t that much fun.
The timer never becomes too much of an issue on the lower difficulties which, again, begs the question of why it was added. You do have a limited number of lives but an infinite supply of continues, which defeats the purpose of the former. It just feels that the developers were trying to straddle a line between casual and core gamers and didn’t realize the gaming faux pas they created as a result.
To compensate, they added a two-player mode akin to what is found in the Super Mario Galaxy titles. The second player basically performs actions, such as attacking enemies and collecting items just by pointing a cursor at them. It is a nice feature for kids playing with their parents, but honestly, nothing more.
This time around, there are three versions of the game and all of them vary a little. The Wii version sticks as close to the original with motion controls that actually work and a lack of slick HD visuals. The Xbox 360 version sports the slick visuals but without any sort of motion control. The PS3 version sounds like it has all the bases covered by design, but it actually ends up disappointing the most. The Move controls are not as intuitive and in-depth as the Wii, making it feel more like a tacked on feature. I actually preferred using the standard controller. However, the PS3 version does support 3D TVs. If you have already made the leap, then this may be the version for you.
It is hard to fault de Blob 2 for its shortcomings because it is still an amazingly charming experience. Rarely will you find yourself bored and, just when things bog down, the game tosses in another idea or puzzle type to keep things fresh. When you close up the single player game, there is also a couch co-op mode that forces players to work together to keep the timer from running down, all while performing similar tasks from the single player. This is entirely separate from the parent co-op mode and is actually fun and quite challenging.
On the visuals front, de Blob 2 looks great on both of the HD consoles with some slick color palettes and effects. The animations in both the game and cut scenes are fun and fluid, while the colors appearing as Blob rolls over gray grass, are truly pleasing to the optics. The simple look doesn’t detract from the beauty of the game. Wii owners are a little less fortunate, as the game is not quite as slick, but the design is still there.
The real star of the presentation, though, is the sound design. For starters, the jazz-infused soundtrack is definitely one to remember. The tunes here are catchy and fit the game extremely well. The other really cool aspect is the musical cues that happen when color is applied to the world. It is a small touch, but one that brings the world to life. The sound team has gone above and beyond the call of duty on this game, and it shows.
de Blob 2 is a wonderfully charismatic title that oozes at the seams with personality and fun. With all of the tree-trunk space marines and war veterans flooding consoles lately, it is always nice to see a well put-together platformer that dares to try something new, and succeeds. Fans of platform games will find a lot to love, even with the problems. If you are in the mood to paint the town red, literally, de Blob 2 is definitely for you.
Review copy provided by publisher.