De Blob is back on gaming consoles and this time around it’s not just a Wii exclusive. THQ made the smart move and released this sequel on the PS3, Xbox 360, DS, and, of course, the Wii. For the sake of this review, I played the Xbox 360 version.
In case you missed de Blob the first time around, as I did, you play as a blob of ink looking to bring colors to the world. In de Blob 2, you’ll absorb blue, yellow, or red paint to fill the scenery, cars, buildings, etc. with vibrance. The gameplay is similar to most 3D platformers, focusing on collecting items, but primarily challenging players to use color in puzzle-like ways. The three primary colors can be combined in various ways and you’ll be forced to keep track of your orange, purple, and green variations. And, just for kicks, brown comes into play quite a bit. For most adults this color combining will come naturally; however, because THQ is targeting this game at kids, it would make for a clever way to teach kids the color wheel.
Besides combining colors in strategic ways, you’ll be looking to color buildings, signs, trees, and more as you meet the different needs of each mission. Sometimes you’ll have to tackle a variety of blank enemies – whether they’re just foot soldiers or an entire army. Just like any good platformer, de Blob 2 has tons of switches, traps, tricks and collectibles. Nothing here is exactly original; nevertheless, it’s varied enough that I wasn’t bored progressing through the game.
Looking beyond the gameplay, de Blob 2 has quite a bit of charm to spread around. While the character of Blob doesn’t have much of anything to say, the story is strong enough to make your missions worthwhile. Comrade Black makes for a stereotypical enemy that won’t surprise you, but won’t push you away either. Everything about this game, from the character design, to the iconography of the INKT, has a sly and goofy sense of humor that kept me entertained from start to finish. de Blob 2 has plenty of story to tell without taking away from the platforming.
In addition to the charming story and characters, the music is especially important to this game. The designers of de Blob 2 obviously took a lot of time and care to create a nice set of playful and engaging music tracks. As Blob adds color to the world, the music adapts and grows to accompany the surroundings. This game has a very noticeable soundtrack that fits perfectly with what is happening without overwhelming the game. de Blob 2 has one of the best accompanying soundtracks I’ve experienced in quite some time.
Despite enjoying the gameplay, characters, and music, I had some problems with the actual controls of de Blob. The designers chose to use one specific button combination to enact multiple different tasks. Specifically, the LT-A button combination acts as a lock-on attack that works well with just one specific kind of enemy, but gets to be problematic when non-enemies come along. I found this lack of variation in control to be modestly frustrating and could have been worked around. Also, I found de Blob’s jumping to be inconsistent at times, and his added wall grab capability to be somewhat unfinished. These two challenges are just annoyances and only come into play when trying to deal with my number one pet peeve: the game timer.
Unfortunately, de Blob 2 employs a gameplay challenge that I particularly loathe. nstead of relying on tough puzzles to challenge gamers, de Blob 2 applies much of its pressure through a ticking clock. While I respect that a timer forces players to progress through the game rapidly (instead of slowly rolling on every inch), I don’t think it is a worthwhile in the modern generation of gaming. Having a timer in a game feels like a trick from the 1980s arcades designed to suck quarters out of a lowly paperboy’s pocket. The tactic adds pressure to the player but does so only to frustrate rather than to challenge him.
Overall, I had a blast playing de Blob 2. It’s a great new addition to the Xbox and PS3 libraries and will entertain both the young and old crowds. I’d recommend this to fans of 3D platformers, jazz fans, and nerds who enjoy cool color effects. Despite the annoyances that I chronicled here, none of these problems really took away from the joy that I experienced playing de Blob 2.