DE BLOB 2

De Blob 2
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DE BLOB 2



Written by Chris Price
14 Monday 14th March 2011

During the firestorm rained down by the recent glut of first person shooters, the world almost overlooked the release of the sequel to last years sleeper hit, De Blob. Amidst all the death and destruction, there’s a little chap out there who just wants to paint.

Blob games almost uniformly have one common element. From the omnipresent Dragon Quest lumps to the athletic blue frogspawn Jelly Boy. The bi-polar product placement action of Super Putty. The jellybean dumpster that was the titular NES remake, A Boy and His Blob. So what’s the common thread amongst these chaps? It’s Nintendo.

Blob-games, with their inherently unthreatening demeanour (due to an inherent lack of right angles) have always been resident on family friendly Nintendo consoles. In fact, De Blob originated on the Wii. A surprise hit – a combination of 3D platform advertune and a Wii-mote painting exercise.

So for De Blob 2 it’s quite a big deal that he’s made the transition to the PS3 & Xbox 360 formats, above the surfeit of Nintendo icons where he could carve out his own niche. The PS3 has been searching for an iconic family-friendly figurehead for years. Ratchet & Clank, Sly the Raccoon, Spyro the Dragon, Crash Bandicoot…even the recent Sackboy is still yet to permeate popular culture. Not that they were bad games - far from it - but it’s a gradual evolutionary process. Sonic went hard and Sega collapsed. Mario’s had a quarter of a century to weasel his way into the worlds sub-conscious. Microsoft didn’t even bother (Marcus Fenix isn’t exactly the cuddliest character ever created) .

I could wax lyrical about the relevance of a figurehead character in 2011 for hours. But it’s fair to say, that Nintendo is Mario to many people – and the characters and mannerisms are almost one and the same with the brand. Which brings us onto De Blob 2. De Blob is (in spirit) a Nintendo game.

Maybe not prime Nintendo-Mario real estate. It’s nowhere as lean and balanced as Super Mario World, or as consistently inventive as Super Mario Galaxy 2. But the 3D roaming, destroying and collecting wouldn’t be out of place in Super Mario Sunshine, the sunny world of gibbering characters could've been plucked from Animal Crossing, and there's enough edge-less bouncing action to give Kirby a run for his money.

De Blob 2 is blank canvas world, where you’re in control of the crayons. The world of De Blob 2 has been greyed by the pesky Comrade Black, and Blobs mission as member of the Colour Underground is to collect, mix and splash enough ink about the place to complete a series of missions. Style and Inspiration pickups allow for artistic painting. Additions to the original include 2D sections, negotiating platforms and environmental hazards in a very Donkey Kong Country manner – flipping the physics from outside into familiar retro platform gaming section.

Blob has his own movement physics, evoking immediately familiar controls – plus his directed charged strike powered by ink ensures he’s slightly less benign than in his debut. Navigation is simple (even if his radar signposting colour locations is a bit unruly). Core tasks are simple, with plenty of longevity in total discovery. The addition of a 2-player simultaneous mode allows you to take control of Blob’s aide Pinky (self-styled ‘sass-bot’), to overcome obstacles as a team

Blob himself is a rather affable chap –shape-shifting, sensibly mute, communicating with some excellent expressions. Design-wise, Blob belies a more European creative, evoking the visual style of Tado and Tokidoki. He’s a solid balance of humble and heroic - try not to raise a smile as his washes in ink baths, and his little victory dances are prime Nickelodeon cockiness.

De Blob 2 is a certainly a game that will appeal primarily to youngsters, but also it’s a neat little Nintendo-themed kick for the lapsed gamer who gets all misty eyed at the though of 16-bit platform classics. Sustained play does deliver diminishing rewards, but in short bursts it’s gratifying and light. Blobs lack of uniqueness has him more as the lead of a flash-animation than a fully realised gaming hero, but it’s a good base to work from. But maybe this because he harks back to a simpler time. One of exploration of secrets, of mute heroes, obvious goals and well pitched platform negotiation.

It’s a simple, fun experience that doesn’t choose impose the designers intentions upon, but rather let you amble in and out of the quest in hand. It’s an inoffensive, amorphous, colourful little lump of ideas –much like De Blob himself.

 

De Blob 2 is out now on Xbox 360, Wii and Playstation 3

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