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2 Reviews

De Blob 2

Is de magic still there?

Australian developer Blue Square did something right with de Blob. A Wii-exclusive colour-'em-up based on a neat student prototype, its easy charm and revolutionary zeal made it a critical and commercial hit.

For de Blob 2, however, the production values have been boosted, and the title screen looks remarkably like a brand consultancy might have designed it: has success changed this former upstart? Where it has, it's generally for the better.

One of the few major problems with the original was mapping its jump to upwards flicks of the remote. Thankfully it's on the good old A button here, which instantly makes de Blob 2 a more comfortable platformer.

Zoom

Negotiating tall buildings and jumping between landmarks is the core of de Blob's movement, so it's a slight change with big impact: wall-jumping in particular benefits from this welcome change.

WE JAMMIN'
Comfortable is a word that suits de Blob 2 - it's like an old pair of tie-dyed slippers. Your aim in each stage is to restore colour to the landscape by rolling over it and bashing the right switches, but now there are some added 2D sections too.

The first is the game's strength: de Blob's colours and styles splatter and spread gloriously over the pristine whites and greys that initially dominate every environment. Each hue (seven in total) has an associated sound effect or instrument that plays for each new splash on the scenery, layering up the background music from a dull drone into a seriously funky beat.

Many games toy around with the idea of transforming the world: few do it so totally, and with such verve, as de Blob - even fewer make the player's actions so central to the effect.

Each level guides Blob around it with the core missions, then opens up into a host of mini-objectives. Missions are simple enough in concept: you bowl over and one of Blob's hands-off companions proclaims "this tower should be red!".

Painting objects in the right colours, hitting switches while Blob is the appropriate colour and (later) matching colours to specific enemy types means you're always snaffling paint from somewhere, and by the end of the second level you'll have memorised what combinations produce which colours.

One slight wrinkle is the health system, which doubles up as your paint quantity: it's easy to run low on paint while colouring in landmarks, only to take a whack when vulnerable and die instantly.

You could argue that learning this balance is part of the game, but in truth it's unnecessarily punitive - hoarding paint because an enemy might be around the next corner is contrary to the game's spirit.

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Despite misadventure like this, de Blob 2 isn't a difficult game - but it is a large one. This is a key part of its achievement: it's a meandering, half-lazy way of playing that sees the best of Blob's world.

It requires a certain mindset: the set progression is only half of the story, a preamble to the good old-fashioned exploration and tagging that really swallows the hours. It's not a game to rush through, but one to savour.

UNITED COLOURS
The major gameplay addition in de Blob 2 is a huge number of 2D sections, most of which last a few minutes. They're a mixed bag: Blob's sticky, messy movement doesn't quite suit two dimensions like it does three, and a jump that's necessarily floaty in the game proper feels loose and devoid of momentum in a simpler environment.

That said, these sections definitely have their moments - a gravity-based one in the University level is particularly great - and they break up your 3D mooching with regularity. The bosses however, most of which are 2D, are generally rubbish.

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