|Game - de Blob 2
Version - Wii
Time Spent Playing - 4+ hours
Obtained - Review Copy from THQ Inc.
Do you remember when you were a kid and grown-ups tried to get you to stay in the lines when coloring? You didn't want to stay in the lines though, did you? You always had to sneak outside the lines and break the rules. Now, you're a productive member of society. Yet, still there's something inside you that wishes you could color outside of those bold black lines of conformity. Well good news! Thanks to de Blob 2, the latest installment in the de Blob series by developer Blue Tongue, you can once again appeal to your inner messy self.
Created by development studio Blue Tongue, de Blob 2 gives you the opportunity to paint/color the world to your heart's content and stomp all over bad guys - at least until the timer runs out.
Gameplay and Controls
Gameplay is very similar to the original de Blob, which was released in 2008. Comrade Black and his army from the evil INKT Corporation have infiltrated your world, via cults and politics this time around rather than brute force, draining the world of all its color. Players are on a mission to rid the world of Comrade Black and his army of Inkies, thus restoring peace and color to the land. This time players are joined by Pinky, the flying Sass-bot. Pinky has two functions. In single player she gives you tasks to complete in order to progress. She also functions as a co-op partner for a second player. The game is divided up into two parts, Play and Blob Party (Editors Note: I was unable to review the Blob Party section due to resource limitations.)
Play (Story mode) starts you out with a world map consisting of 12 levels, with only the first being unlocked. Each level is introduced with a humorous cut scene which progresses the plot. After the cut scene, there is a loading screen with paneled images (imagine a comic book) which reiterates the plot for you via text. Your first priority at the beginning of each level is to restore the flow of color to the color pools scattered about the level. In order to do this, you must play through a side-scrolling section which employs the use of platforming. These sections are brief, usually less than 5 minutes. They are done very well. Mostly, the sections involve navigating through underground sewer sections, defeating enemies every so often, and hitting color switches to activate color pumps. Once these sections are complete, you are brought back to the main area of the level. There, you find pools of paint scattered around the world. You can use these to absorb your desired color, as well as destroying paint bots.
Each level is mission based, meaning that either Pinky or the local citizens will be standing around waiting to tell you what to do. Just look around for red question mark icons. Once you activate the icon by simply rolling into it, you will be given your next task. If you recall, I mentioned a timer in the introduction. The timer is set to 15:00 when you start each level. You must complete the entire level and it's tasks before the timer runs out. Thankfully, every task you complete earns you some more time. So, in most cases, you won't be in danger of running out of time. You can also gain extra time by painting an entire city block and releasing the trapped citizens. The tasks vary in complexity and length. You will find that the overall goals are generally the same: paint this set of buildings these colors, liberate those citizens, destroy 'x' amount of Inkies, etcetera. As you progress through the level, you will collect paint points, which signify how much paint you have absorbed. Certain enemies take more paint points to destroy than others. Every time you paint something it deducts a point. Don't worry, because paint is plentiful. Even if you do run out, there's always some close by. Another key point to be aware of is that you accumulate points throughout the level and are scored on these points at the end of each level. Color atoms are scattered among the buildings and hidden in crates. The atoms increase your score as well.
While the story is funny and entertaining, the true enjoyment comes from roaming around smashing into buildings, trees, cars, trash piles, and more. No need to worry about the colors being too plain. You are able to paint with the following seven hues: red, blue, yellow, green, orange, purple and even brown. To top it all off, scattered throughout the level are style icons. The icons change the pattern when you paint buildings, giving your efforts a more stylized look. Once you have completed the main story of the level, the timer will disappear leaving you two choices. You can move to the next section, or you can stay behind to complete all the optional missions, which reward you with certain medals. There are quite a few optional challenges to complete on every level and so many objects to paint, that you will be kept busy well after the timer is gone.
The controls are really simple. Players use both the Wii remote and nunchuck. Using the analog stick, players roll Blob around the levels. Pressing Z allows you to target the closest enemy or object. For those who played the original de Blob, you may remember that you had to flick the remote up in order to jump. This didn't always work and became annoying after some time. Thankfully, now you only have to press A to jump. Of course, for you masochists out there, you can map the jump command back to the upward flick of the remote. In order to see your compass, which shows the nearest colors, tasks, and general direction of where to go, simply press 1. The camera controls quite nicely for the most part. This is done using the d-pad. In order to center the camera behind you, press C. On occasion, you may need to break through a wall or take out a line of normally impenetrable objects. All you need to do is press and hold Z. Once the target line appears, press B.
Visuals and Sound
I absolutely love the visuals in de Blob 2. At first glance, there is not much to see, because the world is monochromatic. However, even devoid of color, the surrounding buildings, objects, and the like caught my eye. I enjoyed rotating the camera for a moment and checking out my surroundings whenever I entered a new area. Once you start to paint, the visuals really become quite stunning. Vibrant colors pop as you paint buildings, trees, cars, trash piles, billboards, people, and more.
The attention to detail is appreciated as well. For instance, trees that aren't painted, look like dull lifeless sticks protruding from the ground. Once you paint the tree, its sickly version is immediately sucked underground and a new colorful tree, full of leaves and branches, pops up in its place. Or, when you roll into an unpainted car that is parked on the street, it absorbs color, comes to life, and drives off. The more you paint, you literally bring life back into the world. Through your efforts, what was once dull and lifeless, now becomes a lively, colorful area, bustling with activity. The only thing that I can think of that may be bothersome for some gamers is draw distance. To be honest, I didn't notice it unless I made a point to. Otherwise, it didn't concern me. I think the visuals are just about perfect.
The soundtrack is primarily an influence of jazz, and works quite well within the game overall. This brings me to the abundant sounds and music that accompanied my every move in the game - I mean every move. At first, the sound is quiet and sparse. As you roll around, you hear sounds similar to those of a roller in a tray of paint. When you paint a car, the unseen driver honks at you a couple of times and drives off. I think one of the greatest draws to the game aside from the ability to paint freely, is the correlation between painting and the soundtrack. As you paint buildings, the instruments change, depending on your current color. This ensures that the music is varied and entertaining the whole way through. In my time with de Blob 2, there is really only one issue I could find with the sound, and it is only in a particular instance. Once you complete a challenge, the screen changes to an animation of Blob dancing in a colored background with a word of encouragement reflecting your efforts. The sound/music is minimal at this time. It really isn't a big deal, but it seems out of place when Blob is clearly happy with your efforts, and in big bold letters you see "Blobtastic!!" across the screen. I think having some more music for these 5 seconds would have fit right in.
Concluding Overall Impressions
Of all the games I've played in my life, there are only two other franchises that I have been so thoroughly pleased with as I am with de Blob 2 - Super Mario Galaxy 1 & 2 and any Zelda game . I'm not comparing the games mind you, but rather the level of enjoyment I received while playing them. De Blob 2 is certain to entertain you and occupy a good chunk of your time, especially if you are a "completionist". While the level of difficulty is not much to speak of, I feel that everything else the game offers outweighs anything remotely negative. So, if you want to indulge your inner messy self - or you're just looking for an all around great game, then de Blob 2 is for you.. Just imagine yourself listening to some funky jazz tracks, smashing into buildings haphazardly, painting the town red...and blue, and green and...well, you get the point. What are you waiting for? Go and get the game.
Final Score: 5 out of 5
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