De Blob 2 is certainly a unique game. Indeed, there’s very little like it on any format bar the Wii, which has the original de Blob. It’s unique in more than simply gameplay mechanics though. It has a completely individual style right across the board. From the look of the piece to the narrative, this is a singular title, and one which defies comparison with anything but its predecessor.
For the benefit of the white-trash masses out there – the COD and Halo: Reach suckled babes for whom the term ‘waiting for players’ is a byword for dinner time – de Blob involves you single-handedly colouring in an entire game world through the medium of teabagging. You don’t shoot, collect or otherwise interact with much. If you can see it, there’s a fair chance you’ll be able to splat it with your colourful, oily pouch and turn it into a different colour. Never has teabagginghad such a powerful effect. In order to gain mass and thus splatting power, you need to find paint wells all over the cities, restart them and recolour the world. There are a number of other ways you can do this. Some levels put you into a side-scrolling mode that has a more coherent puzzle feel to it than the regular game, while other levels have paint bots, which allow you to act as a kind of rolling palette.
So you play as the amoebic form of de Blob, presumably of Dutch descent, who finds himself free of the apathy and hedonism of his coffee-shop-and-red-light-district lifestyle long enough to be made aware of some pretty despotic political wrangling. The evil Commander Black, a kind of cross between a gummi bear and Pol Pot, has sucked all the colour out of the world. This is doubtless because he’s thrown into a photosensitive seizure by today’s garish and rather wanton interior design TV shows, and I can’t say I disagree with him there. De Blob along with the underground colour revolution aren’t too happy with this, and set out to bring the colour back. After all, it would just be a district without the red light.
What struck me most about de Blob was just how politically poignant the whole thing is. Commander Black is utterly merciless and despite being thoroughly incompetent when it comes to despatching de Blob, manages to effect worldwide change through a powerful combination of fear, religion and coercion, but with the grass-roots insight of a staff sergeant. You won’t see this guy impotently shuffling gummi-bear divisions around in his cutesy bunker, he gets involved. He’s the very epitome of positive politics to negative ends. He’s depicted in cutscenes directing concentration camps, bombing cities and wiping out entire nations. The entire narrative, although it ends well, is quite, quite appalling if you stop to think about it.
Combined with the rather more immediate impact of the bright colours, jazzy tunes and cutesy character, it kind of feels like your four-year-old daughter has made a fully functioning shotgun out of flowers and love, and is now nodding suggestively in the direction of the rabbit hutch. It’s all so bizarrely incongruous, and not something you want to think about too much.
That said, you’re not going to think about it too much. On the face of it, de Blob is a cutesy game. Nobody ever stops smiling, and with the exception of one or two of the underground colour resistance, the characters deserve their time on screen. Apart from anything else, you’ll be kept happy by the stunning soundtrack, which has to rate as one of the best around. Of course the original de Blob was vaunted almost solely for its excellent jazz/soul/funk score, and de Blob 2 has only bettered that. Indeed, the whole look and feel of the game is one of surprising quality, given that it came from a Wii console.
The biggest failings of de Blob are twofold. Firstly, there was real potential in the first game’s combo system. Sure, it felt tacked on and arbitrary, but the idea of getting a better score by hitting buildings and items in a chain would have added a fantastic layer to gameplay. As it is, many of the challenges, which form the majority of the game are just a little bit too straightforward. This has the bonus of making de Blob a very relaxed (and relaxing) game, but won’t appeal to many who demand challenge.
The second biggest problem with de Blob is his control system. It’s not that it is particularly bad, but you are confined to some very simple moves for the whole game. Roll, splat, roll, splat etc, etc… While I suspect that throwing in too much more would have ruined the chilled out nature of the game, again, there’s little here for anyone to get their teeth into.
There are a lot of missed opportunities with de Blob. It’s not a bad game without those opportunities, but it could have been so much more. Some more multiplayer options would have been nice. Indeed, a full multplayer roster might have made this an excellent online title. The co-op mode is pathetic, and really doesn’t deserve to be included for so many reasons, and there’s almost endless puzzling potential in trying to get to specific points on the map that doesn’t seem to have been considered at all.
In all though de Blob is a very enjoyable title, and one with enough laughs and superb music to get you through the more tedious sections. A little lateral thinking would have gone a long way, but sadly, we’ll have to wait for the inevitable sequel for those to materialise.
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