Back in 2008, the Wii received an exclusive, unheralded platformer named de Blob, with the premise of painting everything as the paint-absorbent main character, Blob. Now, Blob is back and he’s taken his act multiplatform in de Blob 2. Has it shined in its move to other platforms?
Comrade Black and the INKT Corporation are up to their nefarious plans once again. The citizens of Prisma City have been brainwashed to rid the world of color and swear their allegiance to Comrade Black. Opposing INKT is the illegal colorist organization known as Color Underground, of which Blob is a chief member. It is up to Blob and his friends to thwart INKT’s evil plan and return the color to Prisma City.
In de Blob 2, you take the role of Blob, who has the ability to absorb various colors of paint. By rolling over and touching various parts of the environment, Blob is able to bring color back to the desolate landscape around him. de Blob 2 is a 3D platformer and controls similarly to the genre standard. Blob can jump, wall jump/run, slam and charge into enemies, and absorb paint. The game contains 3D worlds and 2D side-scrolling levels. While the 3D portions provide the thrill of painting every part of the world around you, the 2D side-scrollers tap into the nostalgia of the platformer genre, and are among the game’s brightest moments for a platformer fan.
Pickups and power-ups are littered throughout the game, giving Blob new abilities. Armor grants Blob a reprieve from an enemy attack, while Rainbow will let Blob always use the correct color on an object; perfect for those challenges requiring certain colors on certain objects. The Haz-Mat protects Blob from hazards, while the Wrecking Ball lets Blob climb up metal walls. The show stopper power up is the Graviton, which lets Blob suck in enemies, objects, and paint nearby like a black hole. It even silences the entire game during its activation, ala the silence of space.
Presentation is the star of the show. de Blob 2 is an absolutely gorgeous game, especially on PS3 and 360, where the HD visuals are jaw-droppingly beautiful. The graphics are extremely vibrant; the colors jump off the screen and paint a vivid picture directly onto your retinas. Buildings, trees, vehicles, smokestacks all come to life as Blob touches them and the paint takes over their monochromatic, unanimated grayscale versions. The sheer joy of looking at this game and watching it in motion can be enjoyed by kids and adults alike. If that isn't enough video fidelity for you, the PS3 and 360 versions also support 3D. The audio is masterful, matching the scenery of the level. In black and white areas, while Blob is colorless, the music is somber, sometimes nonexistent. Once Blob becomes a certain color, the music kicks in, becoming more powerful as the world becomes reacquainted with the greatness that is polychromaticism. Cutscenes are splendidly animated, having a similar feel to that of Pixar movies. The characters all chatter in their language that sounds nonsensical to us, yet that chatter just adds to the silly but fun atmosphere of the game.
It is a shame, however, that the gameplay cannot match the greatness of the presentation. de Blob 2 starts out slowly, so the first few levels feel more like a chore than being enjoyable. Each of de Blob 2’s levels lasts an hour or more, so this frustration can start to accumulate in the less patient player. Additionally, each level is timed, so you must keep progressing through the level to collect additional time. This does not allow players to roam around the level and enjoy painting every last drop of it, until the end of the level when the time restriction is removed. (Opting to play the game on Easy difficulty will set the default time to 60 minutes, which is plenty of time to go exploring.) The promised joy of spreading color everywhere is tempered thanks to the overzealous timer.
Don’t expect many challenges; this game was clearly designed to be played by all audiences, including children. The player has their hand held throughout the game, being told what they should do at almost every moment. Despite the great promise of revisiting this land of color for a second time, de Blob 2’s level design is still lacking. Puzzles in the game mostly revolve around Blob needing a certain color to hit certain switches or defeat certain enemies. Occasionally, some additions are made to a level to spice it up, but for the most part the entire game is mostly these simple puzzles. It feels like a lot of potential was wasted here in favor of constant repetition of basic color matching puzzles.
Blob also has an issue with wall jumping. Specifically, there is some unpredictability to when Blob will stick to a wall. This leads to some frustrating deaths when Blob latches onto a wall when you don’t realize it and then jump, causing you to fall to lower parts of a level, or to your untimely demise. The lock on system for targeting enemies and paintbots is also a bit suspect. Blob automatically locks onto the nearest target, but in a group of enemies and targetable objects, he can sometimes lock on to something you do not want, which can lead to some messed up puzzles, particularly if it changes Blob’s color to something undesirable. There is a way to change targets in this scenario, but it is often not the first thing you think to do in a hectic situation.
Multiplayer in de Blob 2 can be experienced through co-op, both in the regular adventure as well as in Blob Party. In the campaign, Blob’s side-kick Pinky can be controlled. She can assist Blob by firing at enemies, as well as doing some painting of her own. The role of Pinky is meant as an assist for Player 1, for such scenarios as a parent helping their child play through the game. In Blob Party, two players can control their own Blobs and complete specific missions tailored for multiplayer. Both players must cooperate to defeat the INKT Corporation, but will also be competing between each other to get the highest score in the level. Whoever accumulates the highest score is victorious.
de Blob 2’s single player campaign can be finished in about 12-16 hours. But more time can be squeezed out of the game by going through the levels again and completing the side missions. These side missions encourage exploration throughout the levels and encourage painting everything in sight, which is often a joyous romp. Factor this in, as well as multiplayer, and de Blob 2 can hold your attention for quite a while, a nice perk for a platformer.
It is hard to describe de Blob 2 in a succinct statement. Visually, the game will blow you away; it is one of the best examples of vivid graphics making a huge impact on a video game. As a platformer, it is certainly not bad, but numerous issues keep it from reaching greatness. That said, even with those problems, de Blob 2 is a solid game worth a look, a very deep, longing look into the vibrant, paint-filled world of Prisma City.