Color Your World.
de Blob started life as an independent game developed by a collection of eight students at the Utrecht School of the Arts. The game made a significant splash at the 2006 Independent Games Festival, where it caught the attention of THQ. Since then I've kept an eye on its development, eagerly awaiting the opportunity to play it for myself. Now that the game has finally released and I have had the opportunity to experience it, I can honestly say that it was worth the wait.
Players are introduced to de Blob's setting, the dystopian Chroma City, during the first cutscene of the game. The I.N.K.T. Corporation has sucked the color from the city and oppressed the Raydian inhabitants, transforming them into Graydians. Blob, our story's hero, is a part of a revolutionary group focused on bringing color and life back to the city by painting the world and retaking the I.N.K.T. corporate strongholds.
In order to restore Chroma City to its former colorful self, players are required to complete a wide variety of challenges in each district of the city. All challenges are completed with a fairly simple set of controls that boil down to rolling around with the analog stick, jumping with a flick of the Wii Remote, and performing homing attacks by Z-Targeting and flicking the Wii Remote.
The simple control scheme is bound to a fairly simple goal in each of the main missions, which is to reach the level's exit. A series of gates are present to prevent you from blasting straight to the exit. Points to unlock the gates can be gathered through four different venues: coloring buildings, completing challenges, defeating I.N.K.T. soldiers and equipment, and rescuing Raydians.
The simple goal structure paired with the point mechanism give the game considerable depth. Though not immediately apparent, the game tracks a number of other goals in addition to just reaching the end of the level. Each mission can be played in a race against the clock to achieve the time limit goal, treated as a point attack mission, or approached from a completionist angle tasking the player with coloring everything and anything the level has to offer. This truly gives the game enormous replay value and considerable length as well. In my experience, levels could be completed in as little as eight minutes, or could last for up to and hour and a half if you were to color every last bit of the level.
The package is sweetened considerably when you factor in the unbelievable aesthetics of the title. de Blob simply oozes style and personality. Even when the city is completely uncolored, it looks sharp and stylish; flash forward to moments nearing full completion and the city is booming with life, color, and unbelievable visual appeal. The FMV sequences that appear prior to each level are also fantastic and extremely well-produced. They invoke memories of Pixar films, featuring the same humor and style.
The outstanding visuals are paired with an amazing audio track that is brought to life along with the city. At the beginning of the level, the selected "mood" track is very basic with minimal beats and instruments, but as the city becomes more colorful, so too does the audio. More instruments are brought into the mix, giving a party-like sensation when the whole city is colored. When buildings are painted, different sound bytes are mixed into the background track depending on the color of Blob, giving an audible cue to accompany the visual painting of the building; the Wii remote also rumbles, providing tactile feedback that thoroughly engages the player.
de Blob is rounded off with a compelling multiplayer mode. Up to four players are able to face off in unique multiplayer modes. Players can race, go head-to-head, or play a King of the Hill-style match. Multiplayer is absolute insanity with four players, but the framerate takes a hit as a result of splitting the screen. Even playing with only two competitors significantly affects the game's framerate.
Multiplayer framerate issues aside, another factor that detracts from the experience are minor glitches that occur from time to time. Occasionally you'll get stuck in tight corners and need to use a variety of techniques to free yourself from a wall, and other times you'll find the jumping to be slightly unresponsive (which forces you to redo certain challenges). Fortunately these glitches are infrequent, and rarely interfere with your enjoyment of the game.
de Blob is defined by its pure unadulterated fun. While it doesn't have the best platforming, the most complicated puzzles, or the most involved action mechanics, as a whole it's something to behold. Players familiar with Sega's Jet Grind/Jet Set series and Namco's Katamari Damacy will feel right at home. de Blob is an outstanding addition to the Wii library, and every gamer out there should give it a shot.