I'm a fan of off-beat games, and the Wii is blessed with many. While the XBox 360 and PS3 get the same old concepts recycled with pretty HD dressing, it's been the Wii this generation that really has benefited from indie creativity. At this point in the generation it may be odd to call the Wii the underdog -- 46 percent of gamers worldwide can't be too wrong -- but it still suffers from habitual underrating by core gamers. While it's always a bummer when a previous Wii exclusive goes multiplatform, in this case I'm willing to let it slide now that the HD consoles have a crack at one of the most pleasant surprises on Wii: de Blob.
The original game was my Game of the Year for 2008, a thoroughly original 3D platformer based on the idea of mixing colors and painting the landscape. Blob and the Color Underground battled the evil minions of Comrade Black and the INKT Corporation, ending in a spectacular climax, turning Black's spaceship into a burgeoning ball of music before exploding to bits. Comrade Black fell back to the planet of the Raydians onto a desert island. And that is where de Blob 2 picks up.
The Color Underground is now off doing its thing, and Blob is a bit at loose ends until Prof sends him off to mop up Comrade Black. Sure enough, evidence of Black's influence are found on Paradise Island. The first level, Paradise Island, is the tutorial level, and many of the game's play mechanics are introduced. At first, I was rather dismayed that all colors were available in pools and bowls. One of the most charming mechanics of the original was the mixing of colors. It turns out, however, that it's not been removed, just delayed. Basic skills like picking up paint and applying it to buildings, freeing Graydians, the new power charge move, and picking up styles, gallery cards, extra lives, and inspiration bulbs (points that can be applied towards character upgrades) are similar to the original. The second level, Prisma City Downtown, re-introduces many of the great features from the original game. The paint bots and subsequent color mixing first appear here, as well as the leech-bots. Plus a new foe is introduced: Papa Blanc and his colorless acolytes. He's running for president, and converting many of Prisma City's colorful landmarks into use by his grey followers. Where might this go? Are Papa Blanc and Comrade Black in league?
Developer Blue Tongue polishes the 3D platforming aspects of de Blob 2. The art direction is still great, the controls are about the same...as tight as a gelatinous blob can be. Blob still has a bit of weight to him that you have to watch out for, and he can be a bit sticky on vertical surfaces, especially when jumping, but for the most part it's adequate. And to demonstrate that they can steal from the best, they also introduce new 2D platforming sequences ala Super Mario Galaxy 2. These usually appear within buildings or underground, and they're very well done. It's definitely a nice change of pace.
You have at your disposal a radar that orbits Blob (press the "1" button to display it), indicating the direction of color sources, quests, and powerups. For some reason, though, it no longer seems to indicate the direction of unpainted objects, which makes finishing a level at 100 percent more difficult. It doesn't seem to be all that important really, other than for OCD purposes (and we all know how many platform gamers suffer from that!). Instead, other things are counted for completeness purposes. Painting trees, freeing Graydians, collecting styles, and collecting inspiration seem to be the main collectables. Fewer items appear to be paintable, as well. I suppose that makes the game focused more on the gameplay and quests, but for some odd reason, I miss it.
Blob has a new sidekick, Pinky, which reminds me strongly of EVE from WALL-E crossed with an Elebit. She permits one of the new features of the game, a "girlfriend mode" that can draw and squirt color energy to destroy enemies and pick up unreachable powerups. Controlling Pinky is as easy as pointing at the screen. Blob, too, controls very much as he did in the first game, with one heartbreaking exception: nearly all of the motion control has been removed from the game. While nobody was particularly fond of using motion for jumping, I really really miss using a nice sharp downward motion to pound things. The "A" button is fine for jumping, but using it for pounding when locking on with the "Z" button just feels disappointing. The new powered charge move is similarly a bit of a letdown -- locking onto a target with "Z" and just pressing the "B" trigger isn't the least bit satisfying. The in-game IR pointing has also disappeared, although pointing in the game menus is still there. The camera is about as good as cameras tend to be these days, but you can always center it behind you with the "C" button.
But man, I am disappointed with the disappearance of the motion controls. Shaking the Wii remote to get leech-bots and Blancs off you is the only motion in the game. I object to the idea that just because a game goes multi-platform, you have to reduce the controls to the lowest common denominator. I would expect the Wii version to embrace motion, as well as the PS3 version -- the Sixaxis control could easily accomodate some simple motion, and Move is as good as the Wii remote....I guess 360 owners are out of luck, but oh well. But at this point in the gaming generation, I expect more, better motion control, not less. Points off for that.
I'm divided on whether the graphics of the game look as good at the original game or not. Playing both games back to back, there are parts that look better, and parts that look worse. The trees look awful, straight lines appearing on buildings look heavily aliased, the water looks worse, the text is frequently difficult to read, and characters look lower-poly than before. On the other hand, some of the buildings in later levels look better, especially fancy decorations like signs and billboards. Overall, I'll call it even.
The music continues to be a high point in the game. Just as before, the tunes start out subdued and then build in intensity as you color more of the world, and each color features its own instrument. The tunes are different, some are better, and some are worse. They seem to lean away from the jazz of the first game and more towards surf rock in this game. The sounds effects are similar to what came before, with modest use of the remote speaker here and there.
The game seems to be of about the same length of the original, or maybe a tad longer. Each level, if played to 100 percent completion of all tasks, will take an hour or more, and there are 11 levels. There are also single- and multi-player mini-games attached to each level. I don't know how much appeal the mini-games will have. In the original, each level had three mini-levels to complete that were pretty challenging, and a separate multi-player mode with split screen co-op and competitive games. In de Blob 2, the level-specific games are gone, and they've all been put into a Party mode. Honestly, I can take or leave them myself, but they're worth at least a once-through. No on-line play, but that would have been a long shot to get anyway, so I'm not too upset.
The original de Blob approached greatness, and by my measure, achieved it, even though most of the rest of the gaming community didn't agree with me. The second romp is definitely enjoyable, but less of a revelation and less of a Wii game. I still recommend de Blob 2 to nearly all gamers, and it's a must-buy for platformer fans. But you won't be quite as wowed this time out. Hopefully a third game will be in our future that will take the next big step forward.
Couple of questions: 1. I looked at the rest of your NW-supported collection to get an idea of how you rate other games. Do you believe a game can achieve a 10.0?
2. What exactly makes this game a full point worse than the first game? Is it mostly because its not "new?" In my experience, games of the same franchise usually land pretty close to their predecessors.
3. When is your MLB2K11 review coming? Wow.. (And is it online for Wii at all??) I'm a huge fan of MVP Baseball 2005, as you are. Tough seeing 2K11 so far down your list.
1. I don't have any games scored 10.0. All games have issues and can be improved. I did give Super Mario Galaxy 2 a 9.7 I believe. It would be difficult for me to speculate on what would constitute a 10 game on Wii, but I would say it would need (a) stellar graphics, (b) immersive motion controls, probably requiring MotionPlus and the Balance Board, (c) great, evergreen gameplay, (d) on-line play, and (e) great audio. SMG2 came close.
2. The graphics aren't as good, and most of the motion controls from the original were taken out. That accounted for most of it.
3. It's up. Don't hold your breath. Best to root for EA outbidding 2K when the license comes up again.
I enjoyed reading your review, especially from the perspective from someone who greatly enjoyed what the first de Blob had to offer.
I do find it a bit disappointing that there's really nothing to distinguish this multi-console release from its HD versions. Like you, I enjoyed the feel of jumping using the Wii remote. I felt it worked well enough.
At least the excellent use of music returns in the sequel as well, good to hear.
Painting trees, freeing Graydians, collecting styles, and collecting inspiration seem to be the main collectables.
I loved the jumping. I thought it added such amazing depth to the mechanics and made platforming fresh and fun. It did, however, have a learning curve, and I guess a lot of folks never quite mastered it so they said it didn't work.
"Inspiration" is the system for upgrading your Blob. They look like big light bulb icons, and there are typically 30-50 on each level, and you can redeem them for things like bigger paint capacity, number of starting lives, shield capacity, or player 2's paint capacity.
I am really looking forward to trying this out, I loved the first title so getting a sequel is like a dream come true. I think I will pick up a copy on Wii just to keep the games as a set, but I have to wonder how many copies are going to sell on the HD systems. This is one game I am really looking forward to seeing sales numbers for.
I think I would get it on Wii mainly because my other half also loved DeBlob and prefers the Wii controller over the others. I guess I would like to have both games on my Wii shelves rather than seperated.
@Simbabbad Do the versions cost the same? HD games usually cost $10 more, and I'm not the type to pay $10 more just to get HD graphics. Either way I just prefer the Wii remote + nunchuck combo, even in games that barely use motion.
But I doubt I'm getting this game anyway. Too many other games I'd rather play more at the moment (not on Wii, just in general.)
I just gave the 60 minute trial for this game on PSN a shot, and it's... more De Blob. Which isn't really something I want right now apparently. Now I know the game probably differentiates itself more later on, but I'm sure it remains a whole lot of painting buildings, something of which I've had my fill.
Those who skipped the first one should check it out, though.
And at the risk of looking like I have a little too much Nintendo loyalty... playing the game with a PS3 controller DID feel a little weird.