Blob, that amorphous, paint-absorbing champion of the oppressed, has taken the fight for freedom to the DS. De Blob 2 shares its name with the new console game starring the titular hero, but the DS version is a unique side-scrolling platformer that offers wholly different gameplay while maintaining the funky, feel-good spirit of the console games. Although De Blob 2 lacks challenge, strong level design puts the focus squarely on fun, making this an enjoyable game that's particularly well suited for younger players.
De Blob 2 for the DS tells a different story from the console game of the same name. A mad scientist named Dr. Von Blot has been conducting experiments at his secret research facility. His work has been fruitless until Blob stumbles on his lair and inadvertently provides the doctor with the material he needs to turn himself into a nasty ink mutant called Blot. Accompanied by a spunky robot named Pinky, Blob pursues Blot to rescue a kidnapped friend and protect the citizens of Chroma City from this new threat. It's a simple tale, told through a series of amusing animated sequences between levels and some funny text exchanges ("Prof has never been without his industrial strength moustache straightener for this long!") that pop up during gameplay.
As Blob, you roll and leap your way through levels, rescuing Graydians, collecting musical notes, and fighting Inky forces. The controls are responsive, and Blob's ability to easily wall-jump his way to higher areas makes exploring the levels fun. Traversing levels is kept entertaining by a variety of elements that let you get around in different ways, like panels on the rear wall against which you can jump, poles that let you slingshot Blob in any direction, hovering pads that send you rocketing up, and air drafts that whisk you speedily around. These elements come together to create levels that are easy enough for most younger players to handle, but varied enough to stay entertaining for older players despite a general lack of challenge.
Of course, it's not all happily bouncing around for Blob. There are dangers to contend with that come in the form of hazards like spinning blades and the ubiquitous forces of the evil INKT Corporation. Blob has two useful techniques for crushing the evil Inkies that get in his way. When he's in the air and near an enemy, a targeting reticle automatically appears over the foe, and pressing the jump button again sends him hurtling toward it. His other offensive move is a stomp, which brings Blob straight down and is great for smashing armored Inkies, crates, and other sturdy objects. There's a good variety to the enemies you encounter throughout the levels; in addition to standard Inkies, there are grenadiers who hide behind blockades and toss explosive ink canisters your way, elite Inkies whose color you need to match to defeat them, and others.
Color is crucial throughout de Blob 2. Blob can change color by passing through jets of paint or by crushing paint-carrying robots called paintbots, and colors can be mixed. Smashing a blue Blob into a red paintbot results in a purple Blob, for instance. Blob often needs to be a specific color to trigger a switch or defeat an enemy, but the most interesting use of color involves platforms. There are phantom platforms of various colors that you often need to jump on to reach your goal. Blob passes right through these unless he lands on them when matching their color, at which point they immediately become solid. This becomes especially engaging during some levels late in the game involving platforms that fade into existence when Blob matches their color and fade out the instant Blob changes color. In some cases, you need to become one color to activate a platform that lets you wall-jump into a jet of a different color, which activates the next platform that you need in order to make your way up.
Moments like this help make color an integral part of the gameplay. The vibrant colors also make the visuals distinctive. As Blob rolls along, the previously dull gray backgrounds automatically become coated with his current color, fostering a cheerful mood that reinforces the good, simple fun to be had in jumping around these levels and crushing Inkies. Blob's presence also has other effects that are sure to make you feel good, like making barren trees sprout to life and turning surveillance cameras into disco balls. And the music contributes to the mood in a big way. A groovy beat provides the foundation for constant musical flourishes in response to your actions. Make your way through a section of a level with Blob coating the walls in red and a horn might acknowledge each splash of color; switch to green and jazzy piano riffs might chime in instead.
De Blob 2 has 30 levels spread across six zones, with the fifth level in each zone being unlocked only if you rescue enough Graydians and collect enough special musical notes on the previous levels. The level design makes exploring and tracking down these collectibles a fun pursuit, and though these optional unlockable levels provide a bit more challenge than the standard ones, anyone looking for a tough game should steer clear. This is an enjoyable, easygoing platformer with solid level design and a groovy sense of style. The final boss battle is no more challenging than anything else in the game, and is too simple to make you feel any sense of triumph. But although this jazzy romp ends on an underwhelming note, the journey there is sure to put a smile on your face.