de Blob 2: The Underground Review
Platform games are relatively scarce these days, especially outside of the Nintendo consoles' world. So much so, that even the most avid Xbox 360 fan might have a little trouble coming up with the names of the last five platform games released on the system that weren't an Xbox Live Arcade game or a movie tie-in throwaway. In fact, the first de Blob wasn't even available on the Xbox 360. However, its sequel, the aptly named de Blob 2 is, and it might just have enough personality and charm to remind Xbox 360 gamers of the glory days of platform games, if not quite enough to revive a virtually flat-lined genre.
de Blob 2 stars de Blob, an amorphous, well, blob, with the unique ability to absorb color and then redistribute it to the buildings, cars, plants, and just about everything else in his world. de Blob is truly a blob for his time because his happy little world has been subjugated by the authoritarian INKT Corporation and its leader, Comrade Black. Comrade Black has effectively sucked all color out of Prisma City and its surrounding lands, painting everything an inoffensive shade of grayish white and forcing its brightly-colored, puffy little citizens into gray-colored jumpsuits to encourage them to be compliant little worker drones. The irrepressible de Blob will have none of that, though, and takes it upon himself to undo the work of Comrade Black and his minions and restore color to Prisma City.
de Blob 2 is a game packed with humor and personality, due in no small part to the energetic and enthusiastic de Blob himself. You can't help but like de Blob and his infectiously effervescent personality and anti-totalitarian attitude - even though you can't help but think that his rebellion is motivated more by the fact that the INKT Corporation is cramping his party life than by noble political or ideological notions. Prisma City's cartoon city of tomorrow look makes it an interesting place to visit and explore, and watching it come to life as de Blob returns it to color is a treat. The game's presentation is top-notch and filled with little details to the point that even the colors that you choose to paint the world are tied to different musical phrases so that you can "paint" the game's soundtrack as you paint Prisma City.
The basics of gameplay are pretty basic, as they should be in a good platform game. de Blob absorbs color from color pools or wandering inkbots and transfers color to buildings and objects by bumping them, jumping on them, or rolling along their sides. Colors can be combined to create new colors, so jump in a yellow pool and then in a blue one and you'll have a green-colored de Blob. Painting objects generally doesn't drain color from de Blob, but damage from enemies will, as will water which instantly drains all of his color. Certain actions require "payment" in terms of units of color and performing those actions will deduct the requisite number of color units from de Blob's supply. Enemies are defeated by various jump attacks, there are crates waiting to be broken, and various hidden bonuses can be found by thoroughly exploring the levels – all standard platform stuff there. Not surprisingly color comes into play in the game's puzzles – certain switches can only be tripped when you're a certain color and some buildings need to be painted in a designated color. There's a little thought required in getting to the right pools to get the colors that you need while avoiding painting or repainting things the wrong color, but none of the puzzles can really be considered particularly difficult or challenging.