The winner of the “best decapitated-Batman lookalike” competition 10 years running is back with a score to settle – with me personally I might add. While I adored the original release of the original De Blob back in the original 2008, and would group it with the other “weird and eclectic but good” Wii games like Eledees and Zack & Wiki, I bought the sequel pre-owned a year or so ago and it simply didn’t hold my attention. Maybe it was having to go back to the awful Wiimote controller, which offers the joys of both simulated channel-surfing and accidental garrotment all in one bleak vanilla package – because despite changing next to nothing in the jump to switch, I’ve had a lot more fun this time through. (And just before we begin, I need to get all the other “potential title” colour puns out of my head. Tickled Pink. The Future’s Orange. Purple Reign. Paint Misbehavin’. Ink-Red-ible.Thank you.)
The plot comes hot off of De Blob’s non-existent heels, with the Colour Underground triumphing over Comrade Black and the INKT Corporation (which really sounds more like an indie band than a group of antagonists) and ending their scheme to drain the world of colour – clearing drawing inspiration from inner-city Slough. Their celebrations are short-lived, however, as soon enough Comrade Black is back in black, imprisoning the citizens of Chroma City (and presumably the neighbouring Internet Explorera City as well, just much more slowly) and generally being a bit of a twerp. It’s up to our plucky polychromatic protagonist, our paint-ron Saint of colour, to save life as they know it from the br-ink of disaster. Sorry, colour puns just come so easily…
Hot Under the Colour:
As one might expect, De Blob 2’s gameplay is paint-centric to the extreme; buildings and citizens need repainting, more often than not in specific colours, and inky enemies need a thorough colour trouncing. What’s less expected, however, is how puzzle elements are wrapped around De Blob’s globular bod to turn what would otherwise be a fairly by-the-books platformer into something quite unique. Blob’s health is dictated by his paint meter, and almost every action requires paint to perform; inking an object into a new colour, defeating baddies, destroying objects and entering interior areas uses up a lot. This makes paint maintenance (or “paintenance” if you will) of both quantity and colour an important aspect of De Blob 2’s gameplay – as does mixing colours on the fly to keep momentum up while staying the right hue. It all blends together into an enjoyable, visceral gaming experience – defeating enemies isn’t hard at all, but Blob slamming down on them like an anvil landing on a gnat is just dumb fun. Similarly, seeing an area go from washed out and bland to flush with colour like a pride parade double-booked against the national pinwheel convention is really satisfying in its own right. Finally, there are collectibles literally all over the place – your standard fare, like side-content and new patterns for your paint, but also an “inspiration point” you can spend on upgrades – which come in nice meaty increments, so you genuinely feel buffed up.
Perhaps my favourite aspect of De Blob 2 is its implementation of one of the best adaptive soundtracks I’ve ever encountered in gaming. Entering a newly-dehued area causes the soundtrack to thin out, instruments becoming muted and quiet. As you begin to restore colour, painting the town red with reckless abandon, the trumpets start to sneak in, the tempo gradually picks up and volume increases. It sets the mood perfectly, shifting from oppressive and dark, to optimistic and amplifying, swelling into an energetic, bombastic soundtrack as you fully restore each area. Furthermore, each colour has an associated instrument in each level, adding a flourish of sound each time you paint an object. I’ve no jokes to make here, it’s simply a great achievement and one that really gives the game an identity and flair.
Fifty Shades of Great:
It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, however; De Blob 2 isn’t without its bloblems, and its a matter intensified by the fact that nothing was fixed in the porting process whatsoever. While initially at least somewhat charming, the flowerpot men-speak of the NPCs begins to grate fairly quickly – especially considering its constant in later levels. Secondly, Blob himself is achingly slow, and while the levels are densely packed to mitigate this, having to backtrack for anything is like, well, watching paint dry. A veritable bumload of side missions spring up once the main objective is cleared, but you’ll still find yourself trawling around looking for the solitary tree you haven’t repainted, and Blob travelling at the speed of an elderly slug in that aspect is a pain. Finally, the wall-run (or wall-roll, I suppose) mechanics can be a touch dodgy; momentum doesn’t really carry properly, and more often than not you’ll find yourself sinking into ink, or plunging into gunge. They’re all minor complaints, especially if you’re not neurotic about 100% completion like I am, but complaints nonetheless: particularly when the price-point is quite as high as it is (£26.99) for an old game with new little lick of paint.
On the whole, if you’re a Switch owner looking for a light-hearted romp to fill the Super Mario Odyssey-shaped hole in your heart, De Blob 2 is worth your time. It takes its ideas and runs for the hills with them, and really seems to understand what fun is and have concentrated the purest essence of it. Its not without its faults, but if you like the look of what Blob’s got to offer, don’t th-ink twice.