de Blob was a breath of fresh air when it launched on the Nintendo Wii back in 2008. Of course, this new approach coupled with a new IP meant it wasn’t a huge hit, but luckily that hasn’t deterred THQ and Blue Tongue from cracking on with de Blob 2; only this time Blob will also be sliding his way to the Xbox 360 and PS3 in sexy high definition (sans the motion control of the Wii version).[boxout]The sequel picks up directly after the first game which saw Blob liberate Chroma City from the evil dictator, Comrade Black. Unfortunately you can’t keep a decent bad guy down and not only has Black returned, but he has now set his sights on Prisma City, draining it of all colour and converting its inhabitants into drab, monotone ‘Graydians’. This cannot be allowed to stand; it’s time to start a rebellion. They can take our lives, but they can never take our freedom! Or perhaps something a bit less dramatic.
Like its predecessor, de Blob 2 is a free-roaming platform game with a twist. Blob is essentially a big sponge, and as such can soak up coloured paint he finds scattered about levels. This allows you to use him as a big grinning paintbrush, as you slam him against buildings and the like. This is the main purpose of the game; to return as much colour as possible to the levels.
It’s not as easy as rocking up and taking control though, as at the start of every level you must get the colour fountains flowing. This involves heading underground, at which point the game switches to a 2D perspective as you are tasked with freeing Graydians, and hitting switches which will eventually pump paint to the surface.
With enough paint to make the Dulux dog very happy, you are then set various assignments to liberate the area you are currently in. At first these are basic ‘paint that building a certain colour’, but soon paint mixing comes into play as you require bright orange, green, and purple. The game will demand that different tiers of a building be painted different colours, and it’s up to you to work out what to use first. Hardly rocket science, but it needs a bit more thought than your average platformer.
Obviously Comrade Black won’t be taking this lying down, and has deployed many a minion to kick you right in the…blobs. These range from standard grunts, to elites that can only be killed when Blob is a certain colour. It just so happens that Blob is far from helpless though, and has a stomp move that would make Mario nod his head in respect. You can also charge dash through enemies too, although you need to make sure you’re not near a ledge when you do! Every move you do uses up paint, so every now and again you’ll have to find a paint pool, or paintbot to refill yourself. The amount of paint you can absorb is upgradeable, along with other aspects such as amount of lives you have, and a decrease in the amount of paint your charge attack uses.
The game also features a main game co-op mode and some additional non-story challenges for two players. For clarity I did not manage to test this out.
The visuals, whilst not massively detailed, are bright and varied, and it really is a joy to return the various landscapes to their former glory. The cutscenes are very well done, and have a wicked sense of humour, with a cast of characters that are charming, despite never uttering a word. The soundtrack is immense, with every level starting off in a low, foreboding tone, gradually building to a joyous crescendo as your spread the paint about.
Unfortunately a number of issues stop de Blob 2 from reaching the upper echelons of the platform genre. The game has some fairly large environments, stuffed with collectables, but any sort of exploration is stomped on by the fact that there is a time limit. I have no idea why on earth one has been included, and the fear of running out of time is always there in the back of your mind. Yes, throughout the levels there are collectibles that increase the time on the clock, but ironically you have to go and find them. Thank goodness that performing certain tasks automatically gives you a time increase. In all fairness, when you complete a level you are free to explore it, but by then the location of that particularly juicy looking collectable is all but forgotten.
Bearing in mind the games target audience, the punishment for failure – be it death or running out of time – is especially severe and will see you plonked back right at the start of a section, meaning a long slog back through the tasks you had just completed. This really is disheartening. The targeting system can also prove troublesome, as it’s not particularly fussy what it locks onto in a crowd, be it an enemy, a paintbot, or an exploding barrel that will kill you instantly.
By far the biggest issue though is repetition. Every level follows the exact same formula, and sees you doing the exact same thing. The levels can go on for far too long as well, with the best example of this being when you have to liberate seven towers in a row, using an identical method. It stops being enjoyable after tower four.
- Expansive levels
- Great soundtrack
- Solid gameplay
- Targeting system
- Time limit
Overall de Blob 2 is a real mixed bag. There is definitely a fun, solid game there but it is held back by a number of frustrating issues. Charming, but ultimately flawed.