If you ever owned a Nintendo Wii during its time at the top nearly ten years ago, chances are this city painting, 3D platformer was in your gaming library. Now, thanks to the porting expertise of Blitworks, the unlikeliest of heroes “de Blob” is splashing his paint around once again, now on current gen consoles.
Released in 2008 as a Wii exclusive, de Blob was a beloved character by many as you rolled around Chroma City, Nun Chucks in hand, painting buildings and adding colour back to the streets, and re-spraying monuments in the city that has had all its colours drained away by the dastardly INKT Corporation.
As the opening cutscene begins to play, you realise that this is purely a port and not a remaster. Dated graphics hit you hard as you are shown the backstory of a multi-coloured Chroma City getting all its colour sucked out of it, then our hero “de Blob,” splashes down and saves some of his friends; members of the resistance group “Colour Underground,” who will be your sidekicks and navigators throughout the ultimate battle of Good versus Evil, Dark versus Light, or is it colour versus colourlessness?
You start off your single player in the tutorial resort area on the edges of Chroma City. Here you will learn the basics of painting buildings and slamming enemies and how to gather paint as well as the other general controls for our round ball of paint character, de Blob. As you get rolling, you meet Professor, who explains that he is the leader of The Colour Underground and tells you that you must complete your objectives before INKT Corporation finds you. What this really means is that you are given a timer for each mission, but you never really feel in any rush to complete everything as ample time is given, you also pick up plenty of time bonus for completing tasks, painting buildings and releasing colour back to the Chroma City residents called Gradients.
Now you work through jumping and rolling over buildings and completing small challenges that include following checkpoints, colour buildings in specific ways and other small little side quests all while filling yourself up with paint points and avoiding the horrible ink which will turn your buildings back to white if you are not careful. Paint points get used up every time you paint a building or wall, you get more of the ammo like points by slamming into spider-like bots who carry jars of colour on their back. There are a limited number of colours available, but basic knowledge of colour mixing will help as you mix and match colours to make more. You carry on doing this to fill in your time as you build up enough points or colour energy to access the previously gated off areas to reach the next area of the map to do it all over again.
This is where de Blobs’ main problem becomes as clear as day. As you work your way through Chroma City trying to find Comrade Black, the evil INKT Corp’s leader, you will soon be finding yourself doing the same tasks over and over again just in slightly different environments. There are plenty of missions to get through and they all take a lengthy thirty minutes or more to complete, but you never really find yourself doing anything new once you have completed the games opening couple of levels.
Each new level is setup in a similar way, you start in a beginner area and giving the option of little challenges by members of the Colour Underground, but you don’t need to complete any of these to advance, you can just roll around and mix your paints up on the buildings dotted around the area. You do this till you reach your points total to unlock the next area, now you paint there till you unlock your next area again, and so on till the level is complete. Once you complete a level you are giving a scorecard of badges which show you progress for returning to complete again.
Apart from painting things all the colours of the rainbow, you never feel like you are progressing much. Along with your scorecard, you only have a handful of screenshots and videos to unlock along the way leaving you little reason to go back once you have finished. Although you are given free paint and local co-op modes, you still need to play through the campaign to unlock the maps, which by then you have already seen all there is to see.
Maybe this is the problem with a nearly decade-old game. de Blob is a straight up port. Not a remaster, just a quick spruce and shine and to get it working on a controller. The game is in desperate need of a graphics upgrade, especially as it’s a title all about colours and painting things pretty. The soundtrack goes some ways to redeeming the de Blob, as the music reacts and changes as you paint and capture landmarks, this is a unique and fun feature but it also does little to want you to go back for more.
Don’t get me wrong, de Blob is a charming little title which will find its own niche group of players, but I find it to be best played with, or by your kids in local co-op and those times you really want to relax without needing to take too much care of what you’re doing.