It may be regarded by some as a bit of an over-estimation, but in these days of Metacritic, heavily promoted magazine exclusives and trailers that announce games that haven’t even commenced their official development cycles yet, it seems as if good old fashioned word-of-mouth holds less weight with gamers now than it ever has done. Most videogames (like movies) are now largely pre-judged on review scores and opening weekends, and the majority of gamers appear to follow established brands, franchises and well-promoted artists more wholeheartedly than even hardcore film aficionados do. In short; it has never appeared to be so difficult for the little guy to prevail.
This is part of the reason why Blue Tongue’s original De Blob game, a Nintendo Wii exclusive, was so thoroughly refreshing. It was released quietly towards the end of 2008 and grew steadily into the kind of old-school sleeper hit that is becoming increasingly uncommon – championed loudly by almost everyone who experienced it. On release it appeared to be something of a left-field curio, but by Christmas 2008 it had tallied up some genuinely enviable sales figures; and even went on to win awards from some of the most prestigious and highly regarded gaming magazines and websites in the world. It effortlessly bridged the gap between hardcore and casual audiences, and this sequel has been eagerly awaited by all sorts of disparate factions since it was announced late last year.
The format of the core gameplay remains unchanged. You’re still fighting against the oppressive regime of the INKT Corporation (depicted once again via some truly outstanding, Pixar-charming cutscenes) and battling to save the world’s inhabitants, the Radians. You still do this in the same way – by restoring colour to both the world and its citizens – and because the game’s time constraints are so lax (and rather pointless, in honesty) it panders most entertainingly to the completist in you. The colourisation of each world is accentuated by a jazzy musical score, which comes vividly to life in conjunction with the visuals, and the appeal of turning a barren environment into an effervescent one brimming with rich colour (audio and visual) has lost none of its lustre.
But as with the first game, the joyous personality of everything has an unusual hardcore edge to it. Although it starts a little slower than the original did – in a courteous gesture to ensure that newcomers don’t get left behind – the maps are still absolutely huge, and the checkpoints are still sparse. This gives the core gameplay a distinctly old-school flavour, making the completion of a level far more rewarding than it would’ve been if you were given the option to save your progress every few minutes. Playing through De Blob 2 requires dedication, but it takes the time to reward it.
And it may be classed (rightly) as inessential, but a new multiplayer mode does add a solidly entertaining new dynamic to the gameplay. Although on the surface it appears to be very similar to Super Mario Galaxy‘s multiplayer – in which the second controller was used merely to mop up Star Bits that Player 1 had left behind – there’s actually a bit more to it than that. In De Blob 2, Player 2 isn’t able to paint entire buildings, but he or she can tag stray cars, signs, and trees that may have been missed by their partner. More importantly than that though, they also have the ability to tag Player 1with colour too, which can be a godsend if you end up in a spot where fresh paint is at a premium.
The vast levels (of which there are nine) also keep the action varied by offering up a series of very effective 2D side-scrolling sequences. These underground 2D mini-missions break everything up tremendously well, and it allows the development team to toy around with the rules of its 2D worlds in the same way that they do with their 3D plains outdoors. Both inside and out, it’s a very coherent world that’s positively brimming with invention at every juncture, and fans of the first game won’t be the slightest bit surprised to hear that. Thoughtfully designed, heavy on content and definitely not just for kids, De Blob 2 is a terrific sequel that should assist in bringing its hero’s quest for world domination one step closer to fruition.
Although the lack of HD visuals on the Nintendo Wii version speaks for itself, there really isn’t a whole lot to differentiate between the three versions of De Blob 2. The PS Move does a great job of replicating the satisfying thwack of the Wii version’s controls, but the Dualshock and 360 pads both work well. That said, because the game’s new multiplayer mode works far better with a pointer, the Wii and Playstation 3 (with Move) versions are the ones to go for if you plan on spending any serious amount of time in co-op multiplayer. As well as Playstation Move support, the PS3 version is also compatible with 3D televisions, and once you’ve seen the game in action in full 3D, it’s just as likely to inspire you to do something stupid with your credit card as seeing Killzone 3 in 3D is. Regardless of which version you plump for however, you can’t really go wrong. De Blob 2 is every bit as charming and addictive as its justly-lauded predecessor, and perhaps even more so.
Watch the De Blob 2 trailer here: