24th Aug2018

‘de Blob 2′ Review (Nintendo Switch)

by Emma Rees

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There’s something therapeutic about bringing colour to an otherwise colourless world and bringing joy back to an area of grey, colourless oppression. de Blob was one such game, originally released in 2008, where you controlled a blob in his quest to stop Comrade Black and the INKT Corporation from removing all of the colour from Chroma City. In 2011, its sequel, de Blob 2 , released on multiple platforms. Now, seven years later, it has bounced its way onto the Nintendo Switch.

de Blob 2 is very similar to its predecessor; a puzzle-platformer where once again you control Blob in his quest to return colour to the world. Comrade Black and his INKT Corporation are at it again, this time hellbent on removing all the colour from Prisma City. There are twelve main stages with environments ranging from tropical resort, polluted city, underground paint factories, and later on, futuristic space buildings.

Before starting stages you can set Blob’s mood, which changes the level’s music. The music is so jovial and chilled out that it’s bound to raise a smile or two. It is brilliantly implemented too, as the music progresses and adds more instruments as more buildings are coloured.

Each stage starts with an entertaining cutscene and an overview of the havoc that Comrade Black and his minions have caused. Blob’s, robot friend, Pinky, gives mission objectives and hints throughout the stages. If a second player joins, they will control Pinky’s aiming reticle, and can help out by shooting paint, firing at enemies and gathering collectibles. For more co-op fun, there is a ‘Blob Party’ mode which take place in stages from the main story. They are unlocked, as the main stages are played through.

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Stages are timed and have a set of main story objectives to complete within the given time limit. Collecting clocks throughout the levels, add more time on, and can add up to an extra three minutes.You will also start off with a set number of lives,which can be increased by finding more throughout the level.

It is a race against time to stop Comrade Blacks evil plans, rolling into pools of paint, then bouncing onto buildings and objects to revive the colourless city. Some buildings and objects must be painted a certain colour to progress. Paint pools allow Blob to swell in size as well as increase paint points, which are required to destroy or paint over some objects and buildings. Colour can also be changed by going through paint geysers or smashing into Paint Bots. Paint Bots have the additional use of combining colours to make new ones, which is a very common mechanic after the first stage. There are also underground sections which play like a side scroller and contain paint puzzles.

Besides buildings, there are trees that need bringing back to life, vehicles that need restarting and beach umbrellas that need re-erecting. These are just a handful of environmental issues for Blob to correct on his quest. INKT property also needs to be destroyed, which often uses a lot of paint points to charge at them. There are temporary power ups which can help with objectives, one of the most satisfying being a rainbow powerup which automatically paints buildings the correct colour.

Trying to put a stop to Blob’s heroics are a variety of inklings, some of whom have been brainwashed and need recolouring, and some which just need destroying. You will target inklings like a missile and destroy/liberate them one after the other, which is extremely gratifying. Inklings aren’t the only things that need liberating either; some denizens called ‘Graylings’ have been forced into grey suits by Comrade Black and can only be saved from their misery by painting them. Graylings can be coaxed out by painting the buildings they inhabit, and liberating them will often reward you with clocks to increase the timer. To hinder Blob even further, obstacles such as colour removing tiles have also been set up in areas of the city, which must be jumped over and avoided.

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As objectives are completed, you will have to smash into a Transformer Engine which will open up paths as new areas reveal themselves. If you’re worried about getting lost, a simple button press will bring up a compass, which appears as a ring around Blob’s body. The compass has coloured markers and helpfully points the way to objectives. It’s also useful to see which colour will be created when smashing into inkbots.

If the timer runs out, you will get ‘Game Over’ and can choose to either restart the level or continue from the last checkpoint. You can also fail by getting covered in ink. If that happens, you must find pools or geysers of water to wash it off before Blob’s paint points reach zero. Unfortunately, failure means you often have to replay large areas, which if you fail more than once, turns incredibly tedious. In some cases you may have no choice but to restart because the game autosaves and if your timer happens to be low at that point, it can be impossible to recover from. When you’ve spent the best part of an hour completing missions and obtaining collectibles, it is infuriating and can be discouraging to try again. Some scenes are also unskippable, which is especially annoying if you do end up restarting a stage.

There is an ‘Easy’ mode option which gives more time and more lives, but the challenge is almost non existent in comparison. Whereas you might start a level with ten minutes on the clock, playing on ‘Easy’ Mode will give you around an hour. You also start levels with paint points and it’s impossible to accidentally recolour buildings, which is great for kids and for players who simply want to de-stress.

The threat of the timer is removed once all of the story challenges are completed. After that, bonus challenges will become available. If you turn down Pinky’s offer of finishing the level, you can also go back and collect anything you may have missed. There are a multitude of collectables dotted around the stages such as: extra lives, gallery paintings, colour atoms to increase high score, style pickups and inspiration bulbs. The progress of a level and its collectables can be checked in the pause menu.

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Inspiration bulbs are especially useful to collect as they can be spent on upgrades which include, decreasing charge points (the amount of paint points used to destroy objects such as INKT property), maximum armour, player 2’s ammo, maximum size, and starting lives.

de Blob 2 both looks and plays great. It’s a bright, colourful adventure, and something about the simple but stylish character designs are reminiscent of a Saturday morning cartoon. The short, comedic cutscenes and the way the characters talk in their own ‘blobbish’ language further adds to the charm.

The controls are responsive and destroying enemies in a sequence of attacks feels very satisfying. If you’ve ever played any of the 3D Sonic the Hedgehog games, where Sonic bounces off an enemy then targets the next one, it feels very much like that. Sometimes, however, as with many 3D platformers, the camera can be awkward and uncooperative.

Overall, de Blob 2 is a charming, happy and enjoyable game that is guaranteed to make you smile. Bringing colour back to Prisma City and watching it gradually come back to life is very rewarding, as is seeking out the collectables in the stages. Cutscenes are amusing and the music has a really cheerful vibe that perfectly compliments the bright and colourful gameplay. There are a couple of issues; one being the awkward camera and the other being the checkpoint system. The frustrating checkpoint system is ,by far,the biggest problem because not only are they too far apart, the game will be saved even when the timer is too low to finish an objective. Consequently, entire sections, and sometimes even the whole stage must be redone if you fail. However, if you have the time and patience to persevere, there’s a great deal of fun and satisfaction to be had.

***½  3.5/5

de Blob 2 is available on the Nintendo Switch from August 28th.

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