Dear Thomas Bowen,
I’m writing today to talk to you about a game called de Blob 2. There are a few odd things about this particular activity: the first is that you are barely three days old, as your Mom gave birth to you this weekend. This was about a week earlier than planned. This makes you a typical Husemann though as we tend to be early rather than late (well most of us, certain relatives not withstanding), this was a bit of a relief for your mom but it did cause me to have to re-write this opening paragraph.
The second is that you’re not going to be able to read this review for at least six years or so (given that both of your parents are English professors it’s more like five but no pressure from me). With the current state of the video game industry this means that you’ll probably be playing de Blob 4 on your Xbox 720 (or whatever Microsoft decides to call their next generation system) and controlling the game with Kinect 2.5.
de Blob 2 (yes it’s a lower case D...I think it’s a French thing or a marketing thing or both) is the sequel to a Wii exclusive game that came out about two years ago. The game did OK for a Wii game and was widely hailed as one of the few Wii Third Party games that did a good job with the Wii motion controls and sold well at retail. It was also one of the few Wii games that your Uncle Chuck could recommend to friends and still look at himself in the mirror in the morning. The folks at THQ decided that they couldn’t really afford to have another Wii exclusive game so the sequel is coming to the Wii as well as the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and DS.
The move to higher definition consoles was a fantastic idea as the colors in the game really pop in high definition. You’re still getting the same stylized cartoons as the first game but the colors are much more vibrant in HD and the game features some very impressive draw depth (this means you can see really, really far in the game). There a couple of parts in each level of the game where you can see the entire map and it looks fantastic.
The game picks up right after the first game as Blob has just defeated Comrade Black and his evil minions at the Inkt corporation. They are trying to rid the world of color and enslave every one into a monochromatic dictatorship. The game never really says why but I’m guessing there is some kind of color-blind Napoleon complex going on inside Comrade Black (ask your mom to explain this). In a bit of a twist Comrade Black has disguised himself as Papa Black, the leader of a new cult who attempts to enslave the world of Prisma through mind control, by taking over their soda factory, and various other mechanisms that Cobra Commander probably passed on. It’s up to you to once again play the role of Blob, an amorphous Ted Turner who wants to re-color the world around him.
Let’s hope your Grandfather Husemann never sees this game because he’d plant the game in the realm of “hippy brainwashing crap”. To be honest he would have something of a point as the game’s overtones aren’t exactly veiled. It’s not too overt but you can tell the game has a bit of a message buried under all the happy day glow colors. There are points in the game where you can almost taste the sixties (and smell the weed, which you shouldn’t do because drugs are bad). Outside of the upgrade to high definition (which will probably be the new standard definition when you read this) the folks at THQ have added 100 or so two dimensional, side scrolling levels. These serve as transitions and set pieces in the game, and usually involve some platforming combined with some basic switch manipulation and help break the game up a bit. There are clearly some influences from Sonic the Hedgehog and Metroid in some of these levels which means that old geezers, like your Uncle Chuck, will experience some nostalgia playing through these areas. They don’t always work as Blob isn’t exactly the fastest guy in the book.
Also new to this version is a co-op mode where you can have a friend play as Pinky, de Blob’s sassy robotic sidekick, and a party mode. These weren’t really big selling points for me but should make the game fun for kids who want to play with younger siblings or adults who want to play with their kids (yeah, we’ll totally be doing this as soon as your hands are big enough to grip a controller and I convince your parents to get an Xbox 360; this will be a tough sell but I’ll find a way).
When we play though we’re going to play on Easy mode though. I’m not saying this because you’re baby and have no gaming “skillz” but because it makes the game more enjoyable. When you play the game on Normal mode, like I did, then you have to deal with a 15 minute timer for each level. This forces you to rush through the story mode on each level before the game will let you explore the levels on your own. I know it's a little lame but half the fun of playing a game like this is exploring as you go and the clock kind of killed that fun for me as I liked to explore the game, do a few plot missions, explore, and so on. 15 minutes seems like a long time but you’ll find that it quickly runs out if you’re not moving from mission to mission.
The gameplay in de Blob boils down to you having Blob re-color a level by following a set of story points through a level. Once you complete all the missions you’re free to re-paint anything you missed and complete bonus missions. The levels start small but reach the very big stage by the fourth level. Each level has it’s own theme and you’ll be exploring themes like soda factory, city, and college. As you progress through the levels you’ll face new bad guys and new types of power-ups but the core is the same. This probably won’t bore you (or anyone else under 12) but it did get a little repetitive for me. The 2D levels do help break it up a bit but I did find myself wanting a little something else. Of course I’m old and a bit of a jaded cynic and you’ll eat this stuff up like nothing else.
There are some nice color mechanics in the game that you’ll have to learn. Blob is a giant amorphous glob of stuff who will pick up the color of any liquid color he touches. Drench him in a blue pool and he turns blue, red pool and he turns red, and so on. However you can make other colors by hitting paint bots which are randomly scattered through out the levels. If you want to make orange you have to hit a red pool or paintbot and then hit a yellow paintbot. Want baby poop brown? Mix red, blue, and yellow. If you need to clear the color you just need to touch one of the pools of water around the level. Of course if you hit one of the black ink spots you’ll also need to find water as the black ink is toxic to Blob.
I didn’t play a lot of the original de Blob on the Wii but playing the game with an Xbox 360 controller feels a bit like cheating as he’s almost too easy to control. Blob is very responsible to every movement of the thumbsticks and I almost miss some of the sloppiness of the Wii’s motion control system. Jumping is just a push of the A button away and targeting enemies to pound on is just a matter of pushing the left trigger and moving the right stick to pick an enemy. It almost makes you wonder why people would get any other version of the game although I am curious to see how the Move controls on the PS3 version work.
The sound in the game is noteworthy as well as it does feel like a bit of trip back to the sixties and seventies. Some tracks almost have a disco like quality (the opening game music) that builds the feel of the game. It’s rare that I watch the opening tease for a game but the music and tone of de Blob 2 are just awesome. The only bummer is that there’s no spoken dialog in the game and it’s all text which means I’ll have to read all the text to you. I can’t match the little squeaks and tones of the characters on screen but I’ll try to make them interesting for you.
Thomas, de Blob 2 (or one of it’s future iterations) is a game that we are going to be playing together at some point in your life. It’s not perfect, but it is a game that we could bond over and have a lot of fun enjoy playing together. You may not understand what’s going on at first but the bright colors, awesome soundtrack, and easy to learn gameplay will enchant you like nothing else.
I love you,