March 06, 2011
While I do so enjoy playing through games of dubious quality for shits and giggles (or that is what Webb wants me to think) having a sequel to a Wii-only game is pretty much the last thing I want to turn up on my doorstep – or so I thought. What I anticipated to be yet another kids game with low standards and easy achievements actually turned out to be something entirely different. The best description I can give is that this game is The Saboteur for kids and if you think I must have gone crazy, then read on McDuff.
de Blob 2 follows the (mis)adventures of the titular hero, who seems to be a cross between jelly and the best paint roller ever conceived. After seemingly thwarting his nemesis Comrade Black, Blob is all ready to put his feet up and sip on a few beverages. Unfortunately it turns out that Mr Black has landed on his feet, via his head, and is out to turn the world a dastardly shade of black and white. Clearly this monochrome loving fiend must be stopped.
Taking control of Blob, your job is to lead the secret underground resistance and restore colour to the dictator controlled city. Now do you get that Saboteur reference? I love it when a lead in comes together. To do so you will have to undertake some strenuous platforming and smash aside some of the mind-controlled citizens that stand in your way. Each level starts out as a blank canvas, and only by finding a variety of paint sources and restoring the natural hues to the landscape can Blob put things right. You can also have a second player saddle up as Blob's pal Pinky in order to lend a hand. Obviously decorating always goes faster with more people.
The game is pretty straightforward, as Blob uses paint to colour in the landscape, free citizens and defeat enemies. Certain actions use up more paint, and if you run out then you will need to either find a nearby puddle or smash a paint sucking foe. Landing in ink puddles will be hazardous to your health and the more paint Blob has then the more protected he is. Certain tasks also require certain colours, so you may need to indulge in a bit of paint mixing to get the right effect though this is nothing too taxing as you can always hop in some water to restore yourself to normal. Blob has a variety of moves and attacks to help him get around, and everything is always well explained beforehand which may be a touch too much like hand-holding for some.
Each level is large and varied but thankfully you have a handy compass to guide you to your objectives and show any nearly objects of interest or colour sources. The objectives usually involve beating certain foes or colouring in important buildings from the inside, which involve short side scrolling sections full of simple puzzles and foes to defeat. As you complete objectives you will unlock more and more of the surrounding area to explore, which you can then search for Inspiration bulbs to power up your abilities or hidden gallery pictures and style upgrades. The action is played out at a nice pace and things never get overcomplicated or overly taxing, plus as you colour in the landscape the vibrant colours and graphics really start to stand out. Sadly things do start to get a bit repetitive, but even doing more of the same never seems to get old and you will probably have plenty of fun along the way – either that or you will be brainwashed into setting up your own Cowboy Painting firm.
In fact the presentation is superb throughout, with some highly amusing little cutscenes progressing the story and even the most basic actions light up the environment. The only real concerns are the niggly camera and jumping mechanics, which can often cause you major headaches especially when you are near a wall though it is nothing too disruptive. The main problem though has to be the questionable inclusion of a timer while you complete all of the main missions in a level. This one feature forces you to follow a linear path or risk having to redo the whole level, and it really puts a damper on some of the free form exploration that the open world nature of each environment should be encouraging. Instead of being able to wander around colouring in the city, rescuing people and finding secrets you have to race against the clock to get the main objectives done. Sure you can find extra time bonuses by doing just the things I listed, but they often are not enough to enable you to see anything. Instead you will find yourself rushing to complete all of the set objectives and will then be allowed infinite time to wander afterwards, but why not allow for that from the start?
Sadly the achievements do not match the thought and colourfulness of the rest of the game. The majority of your points will be garnered by just completing the game on Normal difficulty, and the rest will be awarded by finding all of the collectibles and snagging all the awards on each level. Nothing more to it than that really, and it is a real shame that there was not a bit more thought and invention put into the process. Even painting a set number of buildings, completing a certain number of challenges and so on would have been better than nothing.
de Blob 2 is not quite on the verge of greatness just yet, as the repetitive nature of the game and some control issues do hold it back somewhat. Luckily they do not detract too much from a game that is trying something a little bit different and succeeding on the whole. Sure it may not be perfect but this is traditional platforming with a neat twist, and just seems to keep you hooked for a little bit longer each time. Spend an hour with the Blob and pals, and you may find yourself hooked.
A toe-tapping soundtrack but nothing you will not have heard before and it soon gets filtered out – plus how many games do we need where the main characters do not actually speak?
While the game world is a fairly simple one in black and white it soon bursts into life when you apply a little colour. All of the characters are full of personality and only a few collision issues spoil the experience.
A fun platformer but the camera is awkward in places and trying to negotiate certain jumps can be a bit of a trail too, plus there is a distinct lack of variety when it comes to your objectives. It is nothing too game breaking though but does take the shine off of things.
A superb example of presentation, thanks to the great story segments, interesting locations and vibrant atmosphere. It really does draw you into the world and have you thoroughly entranced.
A fairly poor list really that is just full of points for completing the levels and then overall awards for all of the side tasks, this means that you could literally unlock the majority of the points on the last level which is a bit of poor planning.
De Blob is a charming way to pass some time, but a few camera niggles and repetitive levels mar what could have been a superb title. As it is there is still plenty to appreciate here for young and old, plus the characters and cutscenes are good for a chuckle as well. Overall this is a refreshingly vibrant platformer that provides a welcome change of pace.