A few years back, I wrote a review of one of the few 3D platforming gems of the modern era not made by Nintendo. It was called de Blob, made by Blue Tongue Entertainment and published by THQ before their eventual dissolve. The game was a wonderful surprise, though not without its faults, like slippy controls and drawn out marathon levels that go one for about an hour each. The sequel, de Blob 2 (released in 2011) improves on a few issues, adds a ton of new stuff, but also forgot to fix a few lingering issues that keep it just shy of greatness.
It’s much of second verse being as same as the first here. Comrade Black has returned under the guise of a cult leader and rigs an election in Prisma City, which brings Blob back into the picture as he returns to track him down and put him back in exile. The major differences this time, narrative wise, are that the color underground don’t give out all the missions as they used to, as a new robot character named Pinky travels with Blob and helps him in that regard. It takes several levels for the team to get back together, and even then, their presence is diminished a little. This is good, because now it no longer feels like they’re just expecting you to do everything and you get the idea that they’re handling sabotage behind the scenes. Otherwise, not much as changed, especially the inkies. In fact, they’re more ridiculous now, with more CG cutscenes showing their usual activities as they abuse captured citizens forced to do manual labor who’ve have just become used to and tired of their childish tamper tantrums. The game is structured in much the same way as the last one. There are multiple levels based on different areas of the city, with the overall goal of painting up the area by absorbing paint and touching objects and surfaces, though reaching zero causes death, and damage is taken mostly from ink, enemies and over painting if you’re low on paint (though that last one is rare). Each level is timed, where completing missions and painting freed prismids earns extra time. Levels can last about an hour on average (usually longer), though you can stop and come back with your progress saved at certain check points, done by hitting special generators that recolor large sections of an area and large structures. It’s a nice touch that makes accomplishing goals feel much more satisfying, as you’re treated to a huge, explosive light show for your trouble. While you can make it through a stage by simply beating all the main missions, you can wait to leave after you handle many other extra missions and challenges, such as painting builds certain colors, or painting every tree in the level. This can reward exploration and earns inspiration (which take the shape of light bulbs) that can be used to upgrade different stats and abilities. For example, you can lower the cost of the powerful charge attack, or simply increase the amount of paint you can hold at a time. There’s also now a co-op mode with Pinky, which allows the second player to fight alongside Blob, but it’s mostly bare and unnecessary.
de Blob has always been a style before substance kind of game, and the sequel is no different. Despite the graphical limits of the Wii, the game simply looks stunning at moments, thanks to the strong art direction. Color blends and contrasts perfectly, and the new inky enemies explode with creativity in their look. Every building has some interesting element to it that makes it unique from nearly every other, and the new 2D platforming areas transform as you go along and paint the walls. All this adds to the sense of accomplishment and progression, as the entire level is constantly changing with your actions. The music plays exactly the same, as it picks up and becomes more and more lively as you paint more and free more areas, while each paint color creates a different type of sound and beat as you paint, adding to the score. The sound design is simply masterful, while the mumbly dialog works great for a lot of slapstick and to keep the game’s chaotic atmosphere going. A few notable issues have also been addressed. Most notably, you no longer have to shake the wiimote to attack enemies and jump, which is a huge help with a few of the more precise platforming bits. Levels are also better designed, with less reusing of areas as each area is its own special structure. However, both control and level design still have some problems. Blob is still a very slick moving character, and to a fault at times. He feels exactly as he did in the first game, which would be fine, except the camera hasn’t changed since. It swings into some angles that can cause Z-target attacks to hit the wrong target, or can cause some messy jumps, especially when wall jumping. The levels are mostly open, so this is rarely the issue it used to be, but it still causes problems at times. The charge attack is especially messy, as it’s very easy to ram yourself off a platform or into obstacles during the heat of the moment. Thankfully, it’s not an attack you use often.
The level design is mostly better than the previous game, with some exceptions in the later half. The soda factory level stands out as one of the most frustrating and overly long levels I’ve ever played in any game. It’s divided into multiple parts, and each part is the same thing repeated, just with a new and frustrating obstacle course to replace the last one. It’s the major low point of the game, and it doesn’t make a proper recovery for two more levels. The final level, on the other hand, does repetition right with increasing difficulty and the access to different powers, which completely changes how new sections are handled. The only two boss battles are with an ink monster and Comrade Black himself at the end, the first more frustrating than anything, while the second a perfect way to cap the game, forcing you to use nearly everything you’ve learned and earned to win. Regular combat is mixed, as some new enemies give new agency during fights, while others just feel like obnoxious padding. The new elites change the color of their hats, which changes which color can squash them. This forces stealth and waiting in a game about fast movement, and they just kill momentum whenever they appear. They aren’t spammed out, but their appearance always means you’re in for a chore for a bit.
Despite these issues, though, the game is a lot of fun. It’s pretty much more of the same, fixing a lot of problems while introducing new ones. It’s no better or worse than de Blob was, which is by no means a bad thing. As a sequel, it’s a tad lacking, but as a 3D platformer, it’s a lot of fun and a refreshing change of pace. I’d love to see somebody bring back this franchise for the new console generation, just for the style alone, because I think there’s a great game just waiting to be made from de Blob. Final Score: 7/10