Pros: Fun platforming, cute 2D sections.
Cons: Annoying time limit, less Wii-like controls.
After failing to conquer and bleach colorful Chroma City with his vast army, one wouldn’t think dictator Comrade Black could do much damage as a wanted fugitive hiding out in neighboring Prisma City. Yet, attempts by the globular protagonist of De Blob 2 reveal in his wake a strange cult that rejects color in favor of a simple, monochromatic existence.
The cult leader, Papa Blanc, is Black in disguise, attempting to do with religion and television what he failed to do with military might.
The Basics: A Blobby Painting Platformmer
Blob is a squishy, rotund creature whose great talent is an ability to act as a living paintbrush. As Papa Blanc’s follower’s drain the city of color, Blob restores buildings to their vivid original hues in order to startle citizens out of their religious stupor.
This sequel is very similar to the original 2008 platformer. Once again, Comrade Black is stealing color, and Blob can cover itself in paint to restore buildings or take out Comrade Black’s minions by leaping upon them. At times he is required to paint buildings certain colors, creating secondary colors by hitting one of Black’s paint-stealing paintbots of one color and then attacking one of a different color. The greatest danger is the black goo that has replaced the city’s water supply and will turn Blob into a sputtering ball of black ink that must find cleansing water or die.
Blob spends a lot of time painting buildings, and often must bounce from low to high to higher ones. As the game progresses Blob must scale structures guarded by anti-color soldiers and hazards like hot plates.
Changes: Some Improvements, Some Let Downs
The most notable addition to the series are 2D platforming levels that break up the 3D action. These offer the same sort of jumping and painting as the 3D levels in the more compact 2D form, and are a nice addition.
Another small but notable change is that while in the first game you jumped by flicking the Wii remote, in this game you jump by pressing a button. My assumption is this is because the sequel is also available for the Xbox 360 and PS3, and the developers didn’t want to bother having different controls for the Wii version. I liked the original jump and think it’s a shame players don’t have the option to change the jump control to flick mode.
There are various little extras in the game. You can collect “inspiration points” that allow you to upgrade Blob’s performance. A second player can join the first in coop mode, controlling a character that can fire paint at certain objects.
Blob can roll, jump, and even stick to walls for brief periods to roll along them. This last ability can create problems. Sometimes I would jump up and accidentally stick to the wall, but since Blob would only be an inch off the ground I wouldn’t understand why I couldn’t make him move. Sometimes I would hit the jump button, thinking he was on the floor, and he would jump sideways off the wall, often into the black goo. It’s a minor annoyance, but a rather persistent one.
Hurry Up: The Trouble with Time Limits
Blob is given a series of tasks to complete, such as destroying a factory making hypnotic televisions that keep the subjugated citizens in check, and, for no particular reason, a time limit. The sequel seems less generous with time than the original. There is plenty of time if you know what you’re doing and don’t have too many occasions where you fall off a high building into a sea of ink and then have to re-climb it. You can gain more time by coloring bleached citizens, but if you are puzzled for a while or make too many mistakes, that might still not be enough.
The game puts check points very far apart, so expect to replay several tasks if you run out of time. If a checkpoint is reached when you have too little time to complete the next task you may have no choice but to restart the entire level.
I don’t like the time limit. It is like having someone yell “hurry up, we’re going to be late,” over and over. I also don’t like replaying long stretches of a game, preferring to move on to new challenges. The time limit seems to me a bad idea, giving too little time to those who don’t like to be rushed while, according to a reviewer at IGN, offering too much time for those who are really good at platformers.
In fact, when I had to restart a level when time ran out I was tempted to just stop playing, and only continued through a sense of game critic duty. About 85% of the way through the I hit an area where running out of time put me back a half hour in the game, and, feeling my duty was done and my patience was at an end, I gave up altogether.
Verdict: Frustration Trumps Fun
I am in a bit of a quandary in terms of giving this game a score. The basic gameplay is similar to the first game, which is one of my all-time favorite Wii games. In spite of my disappointment with the changed jump control and my frustration with the stricter time limit, the sequel is arguably more varied than the first game. For me, the rushed feeling ruined much of the fun for me, and if I were to rate the game based on how much I enjoyed it I would give it 3 out of 5 stars at most. But I feel my response is too subjective, so I will rate it a little higher, even though for me the frustration too often outweighed the fun.
I was really looking forward to this game, but ultimately it’s a game I couldn’t recommend to myself. I love fighting Comrade Black and his minions, I just hate fighting the game itself.
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