Though it may be a distant memory for some, the Nintendo Wii was a huge system in its day, with a fair number of exclusive and engaging titles that still stand strong to this day (Mario Galaxy). But while many may automatically remember the first party games, the 3rd party contributions were still quite spectacular, if not remembered as readily. Thus, the recent port of THQ’s de Blob to Steam was a pleasant surprise, and I was excited to see if memories hold up as well in the cold light of today.
If you’re not familiar, de Blob is a fascinating game about a world where a corrupt mega corporation has taken a stranglehold on the world and drained it of all color, leaving it gray and bland. You, the titular Blog, have the ability to absorb paint into your person and act as a massive sponge roller to re-color and bring back the world to what it used to be. Along the way, you can run missions, colorize things in different hues, and generally play the game at your own pace. Yes, there is a timer for each level and there are certain constraints (it’s not a free-roaming world, after all) but there are many ways to approach each stage and no wrong way to enjoy things.
For what it’s worth, the game still looks and sounds pretty fantastic. I’ve always admired games that attempt to blaze a new trail in-game direction, and de Blob succeeds on a few levels. Sure, the general idea is a great combination of Jet Set Radio and Katamari Damacy, but it doesn’t pull from either of those two games to be called an homage, and neither is slipped in somewhere in bold-faced tribute. But when I see a rolling protagonist bringing back color and funk to a drab land, those are the parents that I attribute to this love child. And, since the game was made for the Wii, it’s full of colors that pop and shapes that grab your attention at any age. The landscapes always remind me of a three-dimensional coloring book, and you can really appreciate the detail that went into creation when colors start getting added in. Not to mention that, as you color more and more of the world, the soundtrack, which is a groovy sort of ambiance, seems to pick up the further along you get and the more people you help liberate and colorize.
The game also has a huge amount of replay value if you find yourself enamored with the play style. Beside the free painting option and having a multiplayer “Blob Party, the levels themselves are enormous. You only have to ink a certain amount before the next gate unlocks and grants you passage: the true artist inside, however, will compel you to try and color every single square inch you can reach. Not just buildings: trees, rocks and the mountains themselves cry out for a fresh coat, and you can oblige in most cases. You might need to get handy at mastering the camera angles so you can truly check if everything’s pretty in purple (or whichever other color you desire), but it’s very fulfilling for a canvas to get completely covered. And, as far as non-violent games go, this one gives a lot of satisfaction in squishing the bad guys and making sure the sad, colorless folk get to party and live in technicolor once again.
The huge levels can be a drawback, however. Blue Tongue Entertainment originally meant this game for the Wii and for iOS, respectively. The iOS was a pick-up-and-play situation with far less detail, but still gave a fair amount of save opportunities. The Wii version was much more robust, but the save points came after completing each stage in it’s entirety, which might require upwards of 30 minutes at a time. For the Wii, no problem: nothing had the potential to interfere within the console, as background activities were pretty minimal. For the modern PC gamer, however, there’s a lot going on at any given time, and you may need more opportunities to save, even save-state, when you’re on a colorful rampage. I lost quite a bit of time needing to redo entire stages again from the beginning because my computer isn’t the best and sometimes had some issues that required Steam to be closed. The Steam Cloud does exist, however, and de Blob at least makes sure your high scores and accomplishments are saved away should anything happen.
Another small nit I have to pick is the lack of Steam achievements. Make no mistake: this port by Blit Software (who also did the Jet Set Radio port) is fantastic and looks better on my computer than it ever did on my Wii. As far as issues or complaints go, this one is seriously insignificant. But de Blob is a game where players strive hard to do their best in time, score and completion percentage, and the Steam achievements almost seem to be right-over the plate as far as something to bake in. I won’t let this be the currant that spoils my cake, but it did just bother me a little that, with everything else going on, this small thing was absent.
This is a great port through and through. The graphics have been improved from the ground-up and the videos have even been up-scaled from the limited 480p that was the Wii. de Blob handles like a dream and I had no problems zipping around and getting my green on at every opportunity. There’s even Wiimote support to really experience the original play of the game, which…well, it’s novel. If you have the tools at your disposal, I say go for it and enjoy, but don’t run out and pick up a Wiimote otherwise. The 360 controller works pretty great, I had zero issues.
If you were a fan of this classic from recent history, or are absolutely tickled by the idea of fighting the man one paint can at a time, you really can’t go wrong with de Blob. It’s fun, it’s original, and it got the porting it deserved, minus a small detail that doesn’t affect the game itself at all. The success has already lead to de Blob 2 getting ported, and who knows? Maybe even more Wii exclusives are in the pipeline.