Review: de Blob
Posted 25 Jul 2018 at 09:48 by Ashley Jones
Ten years (nearly to the day) since de Blob launched on the Wii it has made its way to the Nintendo Switch, perhaps inevitable after it got ported to the PS4, Xbox One and PC last year. The port has been handled by BlitWorks as the original studio - Blue Tongue Entertainment - shut down in 2011.
If you never played the Wii original here’s a brief overview: de Blob (the main character’s name) is a blob of liquid that can transform into different colours, which comes in handy as the villainous INKT Corporation has stolen all the colours from the world. You must progress through several open world levels to return colour to the world, liberate the local population and destroy the INKT Corporation.
Each level is a distinct area, with sections opened by gates after reaching a certain score. There are around 30 challenges per level that fall into one of four categories; paint buildings a specific colour, reach a certain area, destroy enemies or liberate a landmark by depositing a specified amount of colour into a target (the less you think about that one the cleaner you’ll feel). Each challenge gives you extra time, enabling you to explore more.
The levels could all be completed relatively quickly if you were just trying to rush to the end, but can take over an hour if you want to explore more and try and paint as much as possible. At the end of each level you are shown how much of the area you have painted, as well as how many of certain targets you’ve painted (trees, billboards, locals etc). You can check these as you go and return to levels at a later date to 100% if you wish.
Along the way you must defeat, or at least avoid, the INKT minions that are out to attack you. As you progress they become stronger, quicker and even require you to be a certain colour to defeat them. Stages will also have spawn points that you must destroy, through liberating landmarks, otherwise you’ll face an ongoing barrage. The world’s water is also replaced by ink, which again you can slowly return to normal. If you’re hit by enemies or land in the ink you’ll turn black and your paint points will deplete until either you die or you reach water.
The true key to de Blob is map management - you need to know exactly where locations, paint refills, water and challenges are located. The title is really about exploring the landscape and Blue Tongue Entertainment did a great job of building maps that inspire you to seek out every nook and cranny.
After you complete each of the 10 levels you will get 2 much smaller challenges that you can complete, which along with the multiplayer and free paint mode give this budget title a lot to keep you busy. The main mode will certainly occupy a lot of time if you try and get 100% (or at least close to), with these other modes likely to get less of a look in. It's not a difficult game to play and unless you get particularly relaxed you'll never struggle for time, but getting 100% is a true challenge.
I played the original and sequel (rumoured to be coming to Switch later this year) on the Wii back in the day and the core gameplay mechanics remain fun to play. Some of the issues still feel grating, such as sometimes getting stuck to walls and the constant pestering that take you out of the gameplay (to inform you of new challenges available, whether you’ve unlocked a gated area etc) but obviously I didn’t expect the core game to change in a port.
As you would expect with a port of a ten year old game, it highlights some of the advances of the industry in the last decade that consequently age the game. Controls can be fiddly and the UI needs more optimisation for modern displays (although that’s less of a problem in portable mode), but thankfully the game itself is still a joy to play. If you’ve never played the game or its sequel it is worth checking out as its unique premise makes it more than just a standard platformer.
N-Europe Final Verdict
A fun title that has a lot of depth if you try and complete everything. It shows signs of being a product of its time, but if you enjoyed it on the Wii its worth revisiting.
Easy to play, difficult to 100%
Colourful visuals and jazzy soundtrack
Will keep you occupied for a while
UI can be difficult to read sometimes
Constant in-game interruptions
Occasional fiddly controls