De Blob 2 Review
The free-spirited, color-absorbing, amorphous glob of goo is back in a much deserved sequel. The first game, which started out as a PC indie game, later became a sleeper hit for the Wii in 2008. Does this latest outing on all major consoles bring back the enjoyable, color-centric gameplay?
De Blob 2 is, in truth, largely similar to its predecessor. The storyline continues with Blob reaching Prisma City where Papa Blanc, secretly Comrade Black from the first game in disguise, is up to no good, deploying his band of Inkies and attempting to rig the election in his favor. Needless to say, all of the color gets sucked out of everything and everyone, and it's Blob's job to restore it. If you've played the first game, the mechanics will all seem very familiar, but a few notable changes have been made to the gameplay to distinguish it.
Painting the town red or any other color is as easy as jumping in, absorbing a pool of color, and then unleashing your creativity upon buildings, scenery, billboards, cars, and most anything that's monochromatic. Back for more are the paint bots that produce a certain color when smashed and the ability to mix colors to create new ones. Your tasks in every level are basically the same: Absorb a certain color, paint some buildings, and smash the opposition, all in a given time limit that increases as you complete tasks.
The biggest change, however, is how major landmark buildings are taken over. In the previous game, all you needed was a specific color and a certain amount of it absorbed, and the undertaking then turned into a Wii remote waggle fest until the building was fully colorized. The sequel ditches this mechanic and instead makes players traverse the insides of these buildings as an old-school side-scroller. During these segments, you'll be tasked with hitting color coded switches, eliminating various Inkies, and avoiding the deadly black ink. Though these stages are a huge improvement over the previous method, the game relies on them far too often. In later segments, you'll find another building in need of liberation every five minutes or so.
Blob has learned a nifty charge attack that not only helps to get rid of the INKT statues all over town, but also serves to find hidden, blocked off areas that hold power-ups or upgrades. Scattered throughout each area are Inspiration bulbs that help to improve Blobs abilities, such as being able to hold more color or having the charge attack cost less. Completing the main objectives on each level opens the area up for full exploration without a time limit, rewards players by coloring the entire scenery, and offers some side quests that reward Blob with more Inspiration.
The enemy variation is also drastically improved. Besides the standard Inkies, you'll have to take care of the ghost-like Blancs, mounted turrets, tanks, remote control UFOs, and even specialized Inkies that have unique abilities. Even with the variation, the way you dispatch all of them is essentially the same. Blob's homing attack can easily get rid of any target, as long as you have the necessary amount of color absorbed. This almost seems like a missed opportunity, but given that the game is primarily aimed at kids, the developers probably wanted to keep the game accessible.
A second player can get in on the fun in a way similar to Super Mario Galaxy. The player can take control of Blob's hovering friend Pinky, who helps out by picking up items, painting, and dealing with Inkies. Like the Galaxy games, however, the inclusion will hardly give older players any sense of satisfaction or feeling of involvement, and is most likely geared for the younger crowd. The true multiplayer mode, Blob Party, is a much tougher experience. You and a friend have to work together to paint each level in a much shorter time limit, making teamwork absolutely essential. It's a welcome mode that expands on the same principals of the single-player experience without dumbing it down for the sake of a multiplayer mode.
Little touches, like different music cues playing as you're painting, make a comeback, and though they're less noticeable than they were in the first game, they still add a welcome layer of personalization. The presentation won't blow you away, as the game seems to use the exact same assets from the first title, only this time in a higher resolution. Rest assured that shortcoming in no way detracts from gameplay. Controlling Blob with a Xbox 360 controller is a perfect choice, though the controls can feel a bit loose at times, especially when jumping. Making long jumps or landing exactly where you want will definitely take some practice.
De Blob 2 is like a blank canvas ready to have your creativity unleashed upon it. It's an excellent sequel that improves on aspects from the original and includes some new, nifty additions. While it does rely heavily on exploiting these features, the game never reaches the point of monotony. Fans of the original will be pleased, and players unsure whether to dip their feet in this pool of bright colors should definitely take the plunge.
[Reviewed on Xbox 360]