The first de Blob on Wii was a critical success and didn’t sell too badly either, shifting around a million copies for publisher THQ and proving Wii platformers didn’t need to feature a famous mascot to be successful. Now the series has gone multiplatform, with the PS3 version fully compatible with PlayStation Move and 3DTVs, but is the result a masterpiece?
On the surface de Blob 2 looks largely like any other 3D platform game, but its key characteristic is the use of colour. The plot follows the titular Blob in his quest to restore colour to a world that’s been turned to monochrome by the Comrade Black, and this is achieved by simply filling up with paint and touching the whitewashed areas. Each stage has its own set of challenges you must complete to progress, usually involving collecting Colour Atoms and hitting the Transform Engine to bring colour – and therefore happiness – back to the world.
Each of the game’s stages starts out completely washed of colour, with a minimal soundtrack bubbling away in the background and no friendly citizens in sight, but as you restore colour to the land things start to come alive. Dispatched enemies become happy animals, residents start to jump about and the music buzzes with energy.
The music, in fact, is easily the game’s highlight. Each colour has its own assigned instrument, and filling in an object with that colour gives a little melodic flourish, to the point where you find yourself playing with colour to see how the music reacts. A blend of funk, soul, jazz, calypso and more, it’s a phenomenal soundtrack that works beautifully to enhance the game world.
Each stage has a fairly generous time limit you can extend by collecting the power-ups left behind by defeated enemies, and once the Transform Engine has been activated you’re free to explore the city however you like, with a range of bonus objectives to be found. Destroying rubbish, colouring objects and freeing citizens in various amounts grants you a bronze, silver or gold award, and free of the oppression of a time limit the game really shows you what it can do. In this sandbox setting the game is at its best, freeing you to explore the environments and simply have fun playing.
At several points in each level you’ll have to infiltrate a building, which takes place in a 2D stage. These smaller sections have a puzzle element to them, needing you to go back and forth to collect the right paint for the right switch, and while they’re not incredibly innovative they do break up the levels nicely.
Performing well in the main game also unlocks co-operative missions in the new Blob Party mode, in which you and a friend can team up to tackle small missions similar to those in the main game. Two Move users can team up or you can mix and match between DualShock and Move, a welcome feature that should ensure gamers can play together no matter the set-up. Playing with a friend in this vertical split-screen mode is good clean fun, with simple but classic puzzles to overcome in a short time limit, making it a good candidate for gamers wanting to play with partners or children.
There’s also the option for a second player to support Blob in the game’s story mode by firing paint at enemies to take them out. Gamers who’ve dabbled in the co-operative mode in Super Mario Galaxy will be familiar with this style of co-op play, but here the second player must take care of their own paint/ammunition supply. Thankfully you can upgrade both players’ abilities, granting player two a deeper ink well, a welcome feature considering there’s not much for the second player to do when there’s no ink. In fact, there’s nothing for them to do during the side-scrolling sections either, which means your companion may get bored before emerging into the 3D sections again.
If you’re planning to play this with Move, the good news is that it controls just as well with the Move and Navigation as it does with DualShock; the bad news is that it doesn’t make good use of the Move’s features. For most of the game the only motion control is when attacked by an enemy, and even then it’s simply shaking the controller, the same action as required by DualShock players. Of course, this is a platform game so you wouldn’t expect a great amount of motion controls, but go in with your eyes open: the game’s Move controls are just DualShock controls remapped.
The game handles well for the most part, with Blob hiding a few nifty tricks up his sleeves, but there are occasional camera issues that prevent you from seeing clearly where you’re going. You can centre the camera at any time with a simple button press, but sadly Move users lack the complete camera control that dual analogue players have access to. Blob’s jumping also sometimes feels a little sluggish compared to the energetic bounding of his hedgehog and plumber competition; you’d expect him to be elastic, but he’s a little stodgy from time to time.
Graphically the game is as bright and colourful as you’d wish, with plenty of touches to bring a smile to your face: painted cars hover and fly away, Prismans (the game’s citizens) hop around and the whole game looks clean and stylish. There’s also a stereoscopic 3D mode included for 3DTVs, should you have one of those posh pieces of kit.
Overall de Blob 2 is a fun and refreshing platform game with enough charm and joy of play to paper over some cracks, but sadly it’s held back from true greatness by a few niggling problems with the camera and physics. It may not make great use of Move’s capabilities, but as a platformer in its own right it’s well worth a play.