The Wii has started to receive some innovative new content over the past few months, and it's very refreshing to see some titles that aren't just shovel-ware and aren't just full of ridiculous and tedious amounts of waggle so that they can pull the last morsels of loose change out of the wallets of parents and eager impressionable children everywhere. de Blob is shaping up to be a sleeper hit, and potentially one of the biggest titles to be released on the Wii full stop when it comes to what we'd consider a high quality concept with great execution, and it's for these reasons and more that we believe de Blob could indeed be one of the most successful games to be released on Nintendo's motion-sensing machine. The fact that it's being developed right here in Australia at Blue Tongue is just the icing on this delicious multi-coloured cake.
We were impressed when we had our first chance to go hands on with the game earlier in the year; our first impressions were of a pleasant surprise when we discovered that the game was cute to an insane degree for the younger crowd whilst also being very playable, challenging and fun for even us older types. In a world that has been stripped of all of its colour, it's your job as Blob to pick up paint that has been left unattended and bounce around the streets, leaving behind a trail of colour and brightness on everything your character comes into contact with. Buildings, roads, trees, bridges - everything in sight can and will be coloured with whichever combination of colours you pick up along the way.
What makes de Blob so infinitely entertaining is the fact that the drab grey areas you are placed in can be creatively altered however you wish, and entirely at your own pace. Pick up some paint and bounce from wall to wall, mixing colour combinations together and leaving your mark wherever you go; the game can best be described as a blank canvas just waiting for you to artistically colour in, and it's an incredibly inviting and therapeutic experience to bring the different areas from the dark place they begin as to the lively and happy locations they inevitably become. The entire tone of the game changes as you progress, too. When it's all grey and depressing, the music is a slow and almost monotone beat, the skies are dark and there is ink where bodies of water would usually lie. As you colour in the world, the music perks up, the sun shines through the blue sky and the rivers and lakes turn back into water, and you really do get the feeling that you're transforming the world around you by simply splashing some vibrant colours around; needless to say, it's a very cool experience.
Of course the game isn't just a sandbox title where you can paint everything just for the fun of it (although we did find ourselves often collecting paint pots and fooling around with colour combinations as if it were just a sandbox title). There are a number of objectives and missions that you must complete to progress from one area to the next, and although they start off fairly basic such as 'paint these buildings red' with a time limit slapped on it, to the point of insanity later on where you'll need to mix colours together, paint different areas different colours, race around touching a series of checkpoints and squash an obscenely large enemies before they ink you to death. Not every single challenge necessarily needs to be completed to progress from stage to stage, as you earn points from painting every object and collecting other tidbits along the way, which means that if a time-based challenge is particularly taxing, you can make up for it in other areas so you can move forward.
We got to experience some more enemies in this play session as well, and can clearly see that there is some good variety in what they are and how they attack. Apart from your basic Inky enemies, There are Inky Jet Bikes which come at you much faster, turrets that shoot large amounts of ink at you if you are targeted by them and some other creepy types of Inky's which latch onto you and suck all the paint out of you. If you do get inked, you'll need to find a water supply of some kind to wash yourself off, because if your paint supply (which represents your 'life' as it were) gets drained down to zero, then that's game over. To kill the different types of Inky's, they'll require a certain amount of your paint supply to crush them; smaller enemies may only take away five or ten of your paint supply, but one of the turrets could require 20 or so, meaning that you have to make sure there is some paint nearby to refill yourself!
The one thing that stood out on our second extended play-session with the game since March is that the entire game is coming together with an incredible amount of style and polish. It's one thing for a developer to promise that a game will be stylish and innovative in its core design, but it's another thing entirely to actually pull it off with the finesse and class that Blue Tongue has. de Blob has a charm like no other, with gameplay that bridges any age gap and an addictive quality that makes it tough to put down until every single inch of the screen is painted to your desire; in fact, even then it's hard to stop playing. There aren't many games that have the kind of distinctive personality that we have seen and experienced with de Blob, and we are in heavy anticipation for its September release date.