Let’s paint the town red… or green, or blue… you know what? It’s up to you.
There’s an uprising taking place. No it’s nothing to do with any war, nor is it about the recent scare in the economy or anything political for that matter. No – this revolution is all about one simple thing: colour, or the lack of it. You see Chroma city is in a bit of a pickle. INKT Corporation (a company dealing in black ink) has stripped everything bare - down to the last hue, and this vibrant, effervescent city is now a cold, palette-less void in desperate need of a hero. So de Blob and his merry band of helpers are working underground, spreading a little life and colour one part of Chroma city at a time.
The story and de Blob’s overall production values are surprisingly high quality for a low key title; the cut scenes - especially the one that plays upon start up - are genuinely funny and stock full of charm. This gives context to everything you do in the game as opposed to just wondering aimlessly about with a load of paint and no real reason to throw it about. The clean presentation also extends to the menus that slide from screen-to-screen in a very slick, stylised manner – it’s clear just from the beginning that a lot of tender, love and care has been put into de Blob.
So what do you actually do? Paint. That is it - and trust me, you won’t want to do anything else in Chroma city. The game gives players an entire canvas, provides the paint and like a child at nursery, you’re free to go play. There is a time limit to each stage, however, but the allowance is so ample to begin with, and you’ll earn enough extra time through doing tasks and challenges, you’ll seldom glance to the top right of the TV screen for how long you’ve got left. The activities never really extend beyond painting a block of buildings in a particular colour, racing to a destination in an allotted time, or taking out a group of INKT employees, which admittedly can grate, but you get the feeling that de Blob was solely designed for in-and-out fun, and not marathon sessions. Perhaps to appeal the Wii demographic, de Blob is very easy; seemingly throwing enemies and potentially harmful inkt spots throughout the levels as a courtesy. Depending on how you feel about challenge, this forgiving direction may result in proceedings becoming a tad stale.
But a nice a little touch is the implementation of music (reminiscent of Sheep, Dog ‘N’ Wolf) and the instruments playing depending on the colour you happen to be using at the time. Dish out some red and a saxophone will dominate your ears. Partial to a bit of green? Then piano keys will add a touch of class to the havoc pouring all over the screen. And the game rewards those that aren’t scared to mix and match colours at the expense of tidy coordination, as the more mess you make, the more points you attain, and there definitely seems to be a direct correlation between improvisation and enjoyment.
While it can be fun to keep all the good paint to yourself, de Blob actively encourages group collaborations, as you and a friend are able to battle it out in a number of multiplayer modes. It’s for the most part, throwaway fun – a ‘do it once or twice’ affair if you will, but there’s a lot of satisfaction gained from painting all over a friend’s work – especially when they hate blue… and especially when they’ve asked you nicely not to.
It’s a game like de Blob that gives credence to the increasing apathy shown towards Nintendo these days by the so called ‘hardcore gamer’ clique. They clearly know how to use their own hardware (Super Mario Galaxy says hello), but it’s third parties’ inability to produce something of any quality that has left a lot of people perplexed. de Blob proves unequivocally that companies outside of Nintendo headquarters can follow suit. It may be a repetitive task too far to be truly great, but it shows that a little bit of colour certainly goes a long way.
Seven out of ten