de Blob 2: The Underground Review

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Graphics: 8.0
Sound : 9.0
Gameplay : 8.0
Multiplayer : 7.0
Overall : 8.0
Review by Chris Matel
When it comes to marketing, a tag line can be a crucial piece of investment. Compose an ill-conceived quip and your customer's going to draw the wrong idea of the product you're offering. Encapsulate an emotion or summarize its purpose: Whatever the one- or two-liner says, just make sure it gets the right point across.

Whether a pitch by a think tank from publisher THQ's wheelhouse or a driving development philosophy by Blue Tongue Entertainment, de Blob 2's “The revolution will be colorized” tag doesn't mislead. Expanding on the now-franchised property with light additions, de Blob 2 makes the transition to the HD and 3-D formats with bright swatches of color that continue to not lose their novelty. The sequel isn't necessarily revolutionary in any terms of pushing platforming boundaries, and the overall formula is in need of some variety, but even with a couple of missteps, it's a rhythmic, funky, and deceivingly entertaining game.

At first blush (literally), de Blob 2 appears to be a youth-focused entry in a consumer landscape where 34-year-olds populate its majority (according to the ESA). It's not an outlandish assessment, after all, you roll a porous hero, Blob, around a 12-level adventure, soaking up primary colors and using them to enliven gray scale environments. Like Mario's Bowser or Sonic's Eggman, Comrade Black returns to defy Blob with his INKT cadre in an effort to control the metropolis Prisma City. No blood baths or showy violence here, only explosions of color and bop-on-the-head attacks.

Instead, the draw (again, literally) is in scooting and jumping about increasingly larger settings as you plod your way along with Blob and his companions. It's perhaps too simplistic for older, experienced players in the early levels, even with a timer keeping you ever moving, but each have a wealth of buildings and things to paint, items to collect and Graydians to free. Never is it impossible to find and complete all of your objectives, but there's plenty of content, nonetheless, to keep you busy for nearly an hour per level. Yet, later sections turn the experience to almost the complete opposite. Specialized enemies and side-scrolling tunnel puzzles (think Shadow Complex) add notches to the difficulty as you incorporate combinations of colors, power-ups and attacks.

These increases in difficulty are made painfully evident by a rudimentary checkpoint system that can become a burden. No fault of technical performance or glitches, pure user error can revert substantial bits of progress in challenges within levels that don't have intermediate spawn points. Thus, you either complete one challenge and move on to the next, saving your progress in turn, or restart from its beginning once you 'dye' too many times and run out of lives.

It's a bit of a dated design that comes off as overly punitive given how long some of the later challenges can last, creating some tedium in a game that only briefly offers its most imaginative and truly new gameplay towards its finale. Nearly all of Prisma's 12 sections play similarly, only deviating twice for boss battles: roll around, paint the city, pounce on switches, and overrun INKT. It's enjoyable gaming, but the experience plateaus early on and doesn't continue to introduce as interesting moments as those couple of boss encounters.

Local multiplayer options extend this already beefy single-player story by allowing friends or family to assist Blob as Pinky, by way of an on-screen reticule. Suck up paint points and shoot them at Blob to quickly color him, or at items and enemies, and the two-player setup turns her simultaneous inclusion into a first-person painter-shooter. Also, a quasi competitive-cooperative splitscreen element lets two Blobs inject color into smaller arenas. Both multiplayer options add interactivity for others to play the game, but neither, ultimately, are compelling beyond parent-child sessions.

This isn't to say bringing color back to Prisma isn't fun or playful, even for surly hardcore gamers. Indeed, a well of entertainment lays in Blob's rejuvenating the world, set to a dynamic soundtrack. Sit back, gorge Blob in pools of color and paint surroundings that are initially bland palates with almost no enveloping aural quality. As more color bleeds into the world, however, wonderfully eclectic rhythms come alive. Ranging from jazz alley styles mixed with the scratches of a turntable, to Latin-flavored beats, played with organs, trumpets, bongos and the like, the soundtrack's entirety is simultaneously innocuous and engaging.

Not to mention, Telltale might have a few things to learn from Blue Tongue as their interstitial cut scenes take the lead in grunted and mimed dialog. Each show off how an animated short should be in the works with brilliantly timed and animated humor—I do, however, question how this will translate to Syfy's series.

Without a doubt, de Blob is situated to become a marquee franchise for THQ and Blue Tongue. It blends family-friendly accessibility with colorful gameplay. As a sequel, de Blob 2 doesn't change much of the formula from the well-received-yet-under-the-radar Wii game, and a greater variety of platforming will be needed to continue to make the franchise a success. For now, however, there's just enough quirkiness and unadulterated playfulness to make it an enjoyable game.

Familiar with the color red and blue make? What about yellow and blue? If you missed out on 1st grade art, Blob is more than willing to teach you; or, feel free to ask us on Twitter @gamers_hell