You might have noticed that this review looks slightly different to other reviews on VideoGamer.com. That's because we look at games clearly designed for younger gamers in a slightly different way to other games. We'll endeavour to tell you just what you need to know in a clear and concise way so you'll be confident it's the right purchase for whatever your situation.
What is it?
Imagine a world full of fun, laughter and colour. This is the world of Raydia and its most colourful city Chroma. The people that live there (the Raydians) love the colour, but evil doer Comrade Black doesn't and neither does his INKT Corporation. He believes that cities should be completely devoid of colour so sets about sucking the city dry and turning the Raydians into subservient Graydians. Thankfully a handful of raydians manage to escape and form a group called the Colour Underground. de Blob is the most recent member of the group and he's the main tool in bringing colour back to the city.
de Blob is a 3D platformer in which you control the titular character, Blob. He must pick up paint from paintbots and cover the drab grey buildings and citizens with bright colours. Along the way various members of Colour Underground will give you tasks to complete, earning you colour energy and unlocking gates that allow you to progress further into each level. Blob and the Colour Underground won't stop until the entire city is back to its colourful best.
Compared to a 3D platformer like Super Mario Galaxy de Blob is quite simple to pick up and play. Your basic goal is always to colour in the buildings in each level and tasks are always one of four types: Painting certain objects, racing to a location, taking out a certain number of enemies or painting INKT landmarks in order to hurt their operation. The first half of the game is quite simple and shouldn't present too much of a challenge to younger gamers, but things do increase in difficulty as you move into level 6 and beyond.
The main challenge doesn't come from combat (which is fairly simple thanks to a solid lock-on system) but from figuring out how to paint objects in the colour required. Puzzle elements are introduced so you need to think how best to paint objects in order to not colour things in with the wrong colour. This never becomes overly difficult but gamers under eight years old may well need some assistance towards the end.
Blob has a limited amount of paint so must stay stocked up by collecting what's on offer from the paintbots wandering about the city streets. Every time you paint an object or attack an enemy you use some of this paint reserve, and certain objects require you to have over a certain amount stored up. Mixing colours isn't as complex as it sounds, with none of the colours in game needing more than three different paints mixed together.
Navigating the world is simple, with all movement handled with the Nunchuck's analogue stick, with jumping and attacking performed with a sharp jab of the Wii Remote. Controls are essentially problem-free, but from time to time our jabs weren't recognised and we missed important jumps. It's nothing major but a slight annoyance from time to time.
Hazards in each level can cause some difficulty but don't pose too much of a problem once you know how each works. Ink, for example, drains you of colour and gradually depletes your paint store. If it hits zero you lose a life. If you're inked you need to get washed off in some water before it's too late. Hot plates will cook Blob unless he shakes quickly, spikes puncture Blob and cause him to lose points and electricity causes him to lose life pick-ups. Some care near these hazards is all it takes to make sure you don't get into too many awkward situations.
de Blob has been designed to appeal to a young audience and it shows. The use of colour is superb and the cartoon-like characters have a wide appeal. One area that's surprising is the small amount of Wii Remote pointer usage. During load screens you can doodle on the screen and you can use the Remote to look around the levels, but you mainly use it to jump and attack. Not really a major complaint, but de Blob could have worked without the Wii Remote.
Developer Blue Tongue has shown that you don't need to be Nintendo to make a great looking Wii game. de Blob is packed full with character and style, and the way levels start off plain and become rich with colour never becomes dull. Gamers of all ages will appreciate the effort that's gone into each level and the subtle humour in each of the cut scenes shown before a level. There's really very little to complain about here. de Blob may have an extremely happy, child-friendly appearance, but it's also one of the best looking games on the Wii.
Anything for adults?
de Blob's colourful appearance might put off a certain group of adult gamers, but they'd be missing out on an extremely entertaining game. Experienced gamers might find the way you're forced to use a Wii Remote gesture to jump rather annoying, seeing as a single button press would have worked just as well, if not better, but other than that there's a lot to enjoy. It's a slight shame that some of the puzzle elements weren't extended further, but doing so may have made the game too tricky for THQ's target audience. Still, gamers longing for quality original third-party Wii titles have another game to add to their collection.
If you're looking for a game to play with your kids then de Blob includes three game modes for up to four players. These games are very simple, requiring you to paint as much of the city as you can, reach locations before others or hunt the only Blob who can paint, but they're good fun and get the whole family gathered together around the same TV.
de Blob isn't all it could have been, mainly down to the odd awkward jump and a slightly too simplistic first half, but it's still an extremely polished and well put together game. The painting mechanic will have kids hooked straight away and there's enough variety here to keep them entertained for the whole 10 or more hour single-player campaign. Adults will find plenty to enjoy too, and the multiplayer modes for up to four players can be enjoyed by everyone.