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Although it's got charm and personality, de Blob falls short with limited gameplay that fails to entice or develop...
Once the most colourful city in all of Raydia, Chroma City now finds itself under the control of Comrade Black and the INKT Corporation who believes a colourless drab environment is the model for all societies to follow (sounds like Bristol). Using Leechbots to drain the colour from the city and turn the peaceful Raydians into subservient Graydians, only a handful of Raydians managed to escape the dystopian rule. As a member of the small uprising it's up to you, a gelatinous blob of paint, to free the Raydians by bouncing and smashing your way across the city, bringing colour back to the drab world of Chroma City.
Leaping and smashing across the gameworld turns the drab grey buildings and surroundings that de Blob comes into contact with the same colour that he currently is. Smashing into the Paintbots that patrol the streets replenishes de Blob's energy and also changes his colour, with different combinations of paint allowing you to access further palettes: Red+Blue=Purple, Red+Yellow=Orange, Blue+Yellow=Green, and a combination of all three primaries creates a fairly unattractive shade of Brown. Time to brush up on your artistic skills!
Evidently aimed towards a younger demographic (despite its Orwellian setting) de Blob does nevertheless have a core sensibility around it, presumably with the intent to appeal to both casual and core gamers. The trouble with that is that it's a hard nut to crack, not many games achieve such a thing and perhaps Nintendo is arguably the only developer who regularly manages to nail the combination.
Each of the ten stages in the main single-player Story mode provides a wide variety of objectives and challenges. The main task is to simply reach the end of the stage by amassing certain scores to unlock each of the gates. Further challenges involve colouring certain buildings a specific colour within a certain time, racing across the stage, defeating nearby enemies, or taking out specific INKT Corporation landmarks with a quick shuffle of the Wii Remote and Nunchuk. Each stage is also pitted against a timer, but it's not until you reach the later stages in the game that this becomes too much of a challenge.
By colouring rows of buildings the Graydians that lurk inside will come out and can be rolled over to turn them back into Raydians, which in turn unlocks further challenges on the stage. It's a good setup that allows various players to delve into the game as deeply as they choose; however, the problem is that de Blob begins way too easily, even for a younger audience, and fails to really develop. You're constantly left with the question "Is that all there is?". There's some depth stemming from the fact that completing rows of buildings in different colours multiplies the score bonus and chaining jumps between buildings without falling to the floor gets big points, but that's about it. The lack of any progress or development really disengages any interest and leaves the game feeling overly repetitive.
Admittedly Blue Tongue has managed to implement the main controls satisfactorily. Jumping into the air with an upwards swing of the Wii Remote is largely responsive and we enjoyed the combo hopping between buildings, whilst the Z-targeting and downwards slam to destroy members of the INKT corporation is handled well enough. As a Wii title it fails to really take advantage of the format and as such it could easily be ported to a conventional joypad and wouldn't loose much in the process.
On the plus side, de Blob is an extremely stylish title. Bringing the monochrome world to vivid life is handled well and we particularly enjoyed the ensemble of varying sound effects that builds up as you paint the various objects. It's also a game that packs plenty of personality, whether it's the INKT commuters shooting around in their little mobiles or the devilish grin of de Blob whenever he completes a challenge. The take on an Orwellian society is portrayed extremely well throughout the various cut-scenes and we do like de Blob as a main character (he is the mascot of Utrecht after all), it's just a shame that the game around him fails to really add more than the free-to-download concept from whence it came. de Blob could quite easily be compared to Namco's Katamari Damacy, but we personally found the pressure of the timelimit and the irreverent humour far more enticing.
The lack of anything beyond rolling and jumping around fails to provide any sense of attachment, and as a result we found ourselves struggling to persist with the considerably large amount of content that's on offer throughout the ten stages. After completing each stage and the challenges that go with it, additional missions are unlocked, so there's plenty here provided you don't find the main gameplay too grating.
Beyond the Story mode, de Blob also provides a Free mode and Party challenges for multiple players. Removing challenges, the timer and enemies, we found the Free mode to be utterly pointless largely because de Blob's main gameplay dynamics failed to capture our imagination. If you're unlike us and enjoy what de Blob has to offer, you'll probably enjoy meandering around Chroma City without a sense of purpose... but it's not for us. The three different game types in the Party mode offer a little more fun, spicing up the action with goals such as painting as much of the level as you can whilst painting over other player's colours to steal their points, being a blob on the run and having to avoid the other players, or racing to be the first player to paint specific buildings.
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