De Blob is a game we've covered more than a few times before, but its premise is so unique that it bears repeating. In this platformer you play an amorphous ball of goo named Blob, a character notable not only for his squishy shape but his ability to absorb bright paint colors and turn himself into a living paintbrush. It's a handy ability in the world Blob lives in, which has seen the rise of the INKT Corporation, a humorless organization that has quite literally ripped all the color from Chroma City. It then becomes your job to harness Blob's various talents and bring the color back to town. We recently came across a near-complete build of de Blob, giving us a chance to take an extended look at the game's first four levels, revel in the slick storytelling, and tinker with the additional gameplay modes designed to breathe life into the game once the story mode has been all wrapped up.
The first four levels of the game are known as Last Resort, Uptown, Downtown, and The Chroma Dam. Each of these areas portrays a different neighborhood of the surprisingly diverse overall setting, Chroma City. Last Resort (not to be confused with the Halo 3 map) begins on a beachside resort with Blob slowly making his way from the docks to a more urban setting. Uptown is the nice part of the city he goes to next. Downtown begins in the slums and tenement buildings and eventually brings you toward the skyscrapers of the game's most densely populated setting. And finally, The Chroma Dam brings you back through a more residential area where you'll eventually make your way to a large dam.
No matter which neighborhood you find yourself in, the gameplay remains much the same. You're cruising through a free-roaming environment with your most consistent enemy being the clock counting down against you. You can add time to the clock by completing goals scattered around. These goals are most often a twist on the themes of painting specified buildings a particular color, beating down enemies coming at you in waves, and racing through checkpoints. You can still paint buildings in between missions, which helps contribute to your overall color meter, the gauge which opens gates in each level once you've hit a predetermined number.
Controlling Blob is rather simple. You move with the analog stick, jump by swiping the Wii Remote, and stomp enemies by holding Z and jumping. As a way of eliminating clutter on the screen, you can hold A to bring up a circle letting you know where nearby areas of interest like goals and paint refills are. You can do a lot with this simple control scheme, which should help keep the game accessible to platforming neophytes and veterans alike. Our only complaint is the inability to choose an alternate control scheme that maps your jump command to a face button. You do a lot of jumping in this game, and extended sessions can get your wrist and arms pretty tired.
Prior to each level, you're shown a 3D cutscene that helps push the story along. They generally show comedic snippets of what life is like for ordinary citizens under the bumbling control of the INKT Corporation. You can return to these later on by hitting up the extras menu. It's something we'd thoroughly recommend, as each cutscene rivals early Pixar films in both production value and overall humor. Another option you have before each level is the ability to choose Blob's mood, which is a clever way of changing the accompanying soundtrack. All the songs (which range from jazz to funk) match a certain emotion like blissful, fearless, and euphoric.
When not making your way through the story mode, you can dabble in the various additional modes. Free paint is an option that presents itself after you've beaten a particular level. It grants you the ability to play through that environment again without worrying about the clock or enemies. This mode is basically a blank canvas for you to paint each building however you please. Then there are the multiplayer modes, which allow you to compete against up to three other players. The first is Paint Match, a graffiti contest in which each player attempts to paint the most buildings in a certain time; you can also steal buildings another player has already tagged. Blob on the Run is a mode in which only one player can paint at a time, but you have to keep an eye out for the competition, who can land a power stomp on you to overtake your ability to be the mode's sole painter. Then there's Blob Race, which gives you a rotating series of buildings to paint, with each player darting to get there first when the prompt comes up.
De Blob is a game that should give players a lot to do. And while a lot of games can tout that ability, de Blob does it with such vibrant style that it instantly becomes a game every Wii owner should have on their radar. You can expect to see it released for the Wii on September 22.