Tuesday 15 September 2009

de Blob

"Wii" and "third party" don't seem to mix well. You tend to get this strange hue which looks nice for the first few seconds... until you realise it won't match any of your furniture. But occasionally you get a title such as de Blob, which doesn't really need to match your sofa since it's always changing colour.

Initially the lovechild of nine dutch students, de Blob was released for the PC a few years ago as freeware. The deal was simple; paint de city by running over de people and slamming into de walls, while avoiding de INKT police. It was an interesting concept, so interesting in fact that the rights were picked up by THQ, who got developer Blue Tongue Entertainment to spice it up for the Wii, making a pleasant change no doubt from Blue Tongue's usual supply of licensed shovelware. Luckily de Blob Wii has managed to improve tenfold on its PC counterpart, and has proved to be a good reason to turn my Wii on for the first time in months.

Unlike the PC version where you were the enemy of the people, de Blob Wii has you, a giant... blob re-paint the city after the evil INKT corporation headed by Comrade Black decides to invade, steal all the colour and enslave the populace. It's a 3D platformer/sandbox thing similar to titles such as Katamari Damacy, and it's pretty damn good, plus it simplifies the original formula while improving it in many areas too. If you're one of the people who think it's not worth the money simply because you can get it on the PC for free, you're wrong, because the changes are so radical it's practically a whole new game. The professional reviews won't tell you that because they weren't paid to check out the freebie one.

But there are a few annoying problems. The jumping mechanic is broken because rather than using a button, the Wii Remote's waggling capabilities are thrown in instead. This is not a good substitute for a button. Wall-jumping is a bit of an issue too as de Blob will stick to everything. It works in some areas, since it allows you to slide down the side of buildings, but for the later stages where everything is crawling with enemies? Not so nice, especially when the targetting system starts playing up a bit too. You can't do fancy platforming like you can with the 3D Mario games because the character is too big and the camera isn't always great, though the first bunch of stages are perfectly fine.

I like the last boss the best, where I was doing more damage to myself by accidentally walking into waterfalls and spikes due to my size than being hit with ink. Just because the Wii has motion control doesn't mean every game must use it, and I've always found it odd that some reviewers will actually mark a game down for not utilising this controller for everything under the sun. It's a sense makes no situation when you consider all the 2D Sonic platformers relied ONE button, despite the fact one of the MegaDrive's advantages over the original NES was the letter C. It didn't exactly hurt sales of Sega's best selling games now did it?

The game feels it necessary to have lots of cutscenes whenever something happens, some of which are only a few seconds long. You get a bunch of very slow briefs every time you enter a new area but do we really need four or five of them saying the same thing per level? None of these missions really matter anyway - you just need to total up a certain amount of points to exit the level, and you could quite easily do so without responding to distress signals (though granted, you'd probably want to sort out the landmarks so you're not being constantly attacked by the police).

The game has a lot of replay value to it, since you can re-visit levels and earn various awards. It could be argued, however, that the levels are a bit too big. It can take up to the best part of an hour to achieve everything in a stage, and because it doesn't save any information on the buildings you've painted, you have to do it all in one go. The game mainly cares about gold medals, which are fairly easy to obtain, and though IGN says the game lasts about 10 hours (which is probably about right if you're a normal person), if you decide that you want to go back and get all the awards, it could be closer to 20 or maybe even 30 depending on whether you have the time to take on a level in one sitting.

Oh and I'm not a big fan of the NPC characters who spend the game living in holes. If you're really trying to start a revolution as you constantly point out, it's probably a better idea to do something rather than relying on de Blob to perform mundane tasks. The Professor's cool though. Always good to have an old guy in a hover vehicle thing telling you to fight the police, media and the government, even if it does feel strangely awkward to transform a church into a skateboard park. They may be evil, but does it really make you the better person to banish the church of inkology? What if there are religious... "INKT-streamists"...

The music is top notch and the graphics are great for a Wii game. THQ supposedly has plans for more de Blob, though I'm a bit cautious about that since there's a high chance it could be more of the same. Either way though, this is a great game if you can look past the waggle, and is probably worth the investment if you're short of things do with Nintendo's box.

In other news, Blogger installed a "jump posts" feature recently so you don't have to put up with hoards of text about things you don't care about anymore. Can you believe it's taken them ten years to install this feature?

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