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Daniel Golding
03 Oct, 2008

de Blob Review

Wii Review | A great third-party Wii title? Unbelievably, it's Australian.
Australians, as a general rule, have mixed feelings towards their own cultural output. Certainly, there are a handful of phenomena that almost every Australian seems to be able to find room in their hearts for: The Castle, AC/DC, perhaps even John Marsden if he wasn’t drummed into you at school. Equally strong, however, is that great slab of Australian culture that we love to hate. To be brutally honest, most Australians would rather have teeth pulled than go and see an Australian film at the cinema.

Until now, Australian videogames have largely been an unknown quantity. Not many are aware of our own game design studios, and if they are, they’re hard pressed to name high class productions. That’s not to say we haven’t had any, but few have managed to cement themselves into our consciousness.

Which is where de Blob comes in. Wonder no more about Australian videogames. If de Blob is anything to go by, they’re imaginative, addictive, and very well polished.

Meet Blob. He's currently purple, rotund, and about to fall several hundred metres.

Meet Blob. He's currently purple, rotund, and about to fall several hundred metres.
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The basic premise of de Blob, made by Blue Tongue Entertainment in St. Kilda, Melbourne, is simple. In this puzzle-platformer hybrid, you play as Blob, a rolling smear of paint bent on liberating the once-colourful Raydians from their oppressive greyscale overlords, the I.N.K.T. Corporation. Rolling and jumping from building to building, the aim is to bring colour back to the city of Chroma, one landmark at a time. Selecting your colours wisely, players can mix and match hues, lending variety and complexity to gameplay. Controls are sharp and taut, with movement led by the nunchuck, jumping mapped to a swift movement upwards of the Wii Remote, and a reliable camera following your every move.

Blob is infectious with colour - touch a building, and his current colour will wind sinuously up the walls of the building until covered in its entirety, as if Blob is some sort of creeping colour infection previously found in a Hammer Horror film.

Strange as it may seem, the infectious tag is probably the best way to actually describe the experience of playing de Blob: every aspect of the game, from the basic tactile feel of the city to the energetic score is superbly infectious. The player is easily sutured in to the world of Chroma, but not easily pulled out again; it’s a game that plays at its best when allowed to fully overcome the senses. de Blob is a game for allowing complete immersion in a day-dream like state, like Pilotwings 64. While that game allowed us birdman-esque freedom to zone out hundreds of metres above ground, de Blob allows us to combine a love of exploring with the childlike urge to colour in. It’s a game, simply put, for obsessive compulsives.

Painting the town red.

Painting the town red.
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However, de Blob isn’t without fault, and as you’ve surely glanced down to that number at the bottom of the page by now, all this effusive praise isn’t without a few caveats, slight as they may be. The prime issue with the game is that players can eventually become prone to Blob-overload. Some levels can go on after they’ve worn out their welcome, and though Blue Tongue have provided a wide variety of challenges, not to mention the elaborate and complex design of later levels, there’s a feeling of fatigue that often threatens to set in while playing. Granted, many levels can actually be completed quite quickly, and often much more speedily than players realise, but there are also occasions where the game doesn’t make objectives as broadly clear as it could, and perhaps this contributes to the feeling. It is also possible to suggest that this Blob fatigue could also be a physical ailment, as the constant upwards thrusting with the Wii Remote inevitably causes mild wrist soreness. It’s a difficult question as to whether Blue Tongue should have included the option to map the jump ability to a regular button; after all, this is a Wii game, and tactility is the name of the game. We’re inclined to think that the movement does add something to the game, but we’re not certain if it is a pointed enough plus.

One point that clearly forces de Blob to stand out of the third-party Wii crowd is the sheer production values. Sound is perhaps the most obvious detail that recommends the game: recorded by Melbourne’s The Bamboos, the funky jazz soundtrack is captivating not only because of its stylistic complement to the game’s bright art, but because it also enhances gameplay. There aren’t many games that allow players to select a track before playing, and fewer still that react in real-time to player action, as each colour is linked to an instrument which plays a little as you paint a little. To have the choice to add a muted trumpet, Rhodes electric piano or funky clavichord to the mix does wonders for de Blob’s aforementioned infectiousness.

Things can get a little messy.

Things can get a little messy.
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The art design, initially perhaps confused with the fluffy mascots of a licensed kids title, is also a real bonus for de Blob. The energy of the visuals lend a desire to colour the drab world of the Inkies, and the more basketball courts and rockin’ microphones that pop up as the result of your hard work make it all the more rewarding. In a way, it’s a statement of sorts from Blue Tongue. Colour good, bland bad. Accountants are out, musicians are in. Even the presentation is bursting with life: menu screens swoosh smoothly to change, and staged mission briefings and the ability to doodle replace boring loading screens. While initially, a seasoned gamer might be inclined to write off de Blob’s cut scenes as childish, sticking with them yields a LEGO Star Wars-like wit and charm. Each character, from the evil Comrade Black to the heroic Colour Underground, is by the end of the game, more than a character-less cipher to drive gameplay. This game might appeal to children immediately, but behind the scenes, it’s got a lot for adults to enjoy as well.

Despite our mention of Blob-fatigue, it’s still quite possible to mount an argument for the extended replay value of the game. Along with a story mode, Blue Tongue have thrown in a distracting multiplayer mode, which encompasses three different styles of play, each with their particular hook. None of the modes are a revelation that will see play continue until the wee hours of the morning, but neither are they poor attempts, grafted on as an afterthought. It’s just that split-screen multiplayer isn’t quite what de Blob is about. And while we’re on the subject of replay value, it’s also worth noting that it does take quite a bit of dedication and effort to complete each level to its fullest (aided by an exhaustive progress menu), and a handful of interesting unlockables (such as artwork) make the game that much more of an interesting package.

de Blob is clearly one of the better third-party videogames available for the Nintendo Wii. The fact that it gives us Australians something to boast about is just an extra. At once simple and deep, childish and adult, stylish and mesmerising, de Blob offers up a unique and pleasurable experience. There are a few niggles, and certainly the game is not for everyone, but if you haven’t touched a new Wii-exclusive since Boom Blox, then there will never be a more compelling argument than de Blob.
The Score
de Blob is an undeniably infectious game. On all fronts, the game is polished and high quality, making it one of the best third-party titles available for the Wii.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related de Blob Content

De Blob: Underground details revealed
10 Jun, 2010 Details spilled like paint.
de Blob VIP Party winners announced
25 Sep, 2008 Will you be the one to party?
Win tickets to de Blob VIP launch party
19 Sep, 2008 A prize money can't buy.
6 Comments
5 years ago
Like Boom Blox, this is one of those quirky little gems that came out of nowhere and works so very well for all the wrong reasons.

Instead of going into the title with the intention to just make a bog standard puzzle game, Blue Tongue have really polished things up. It's not just a puzzle game, its a true "game" game (if that make sense).

I'm loving it!
5 years ago
"game"? No it doesn't make sense, to me at least, sorry.
Care to explain?
5 years ago
I knew I explained it poorly icon_razz.gif.

What I'm trying to get at is that a lot of puzzle titles often feel incomplete and cheap. Even when they are really fun, they often don't feel as if they are really worth what you paid. Simplistic, lacking features, low production values, etc.

de Blob is not only a very enjoyable puzzle title, but its also one that feels like a complete game. There is plenty to do and the production values are high.

Rather than feeling like a game where the developers decided to quickly package together a fun little puzzle game, de Blob really feel like a lot of love and effort went into making it what it is.
5 years ago
I was fortunate enough to attend a short talk and demonstration of the game by one of the developers last week. The game certainly looks quirky enough icon_razz.gif
Just thought I'd mention that he explained that most people that tried the game felt the need to make Blob jump by raising the remote, but Blue Tongue's intention was actually to "fling" it forward and down. As if to kind of, throw Blob into the air, and according to him, it's more responsive and comforting on the wrist that way.
5 years ago
Its Australian made. That's all that needs to be said. Buy it and make sure these politicians and film investment bodies understand what can be achieved locally.
5 years ago
When I initailly heard about this game and being Australian made I was like "eh, good for them", but after seeing a couple of reviews online this made me go out and buy it, and I'm glad I did!

One of the things that made me fall in love with this game were the production values, especially the intro cut scene. They certainly spared no expenses making this game and it shows. The music, and its interactivity, is also a big plus.

The game itself also felt a little like and reminded me of Katamari, and that's a BIG plus!

In short: if you own a Wii, buy this game!
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  25/09/2008 (Confirmed)
Standard Retail Price:
  $79.95 AU
Publisher:
  THQ
Genre:
  Puzzle
Year Made:
  2008
Players:
  4

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