even though i had played and rather hated boom blox for wii, i happened to get a copy of another casual wii title, de blob, from the local library soon afterwards. the game has an entertaining-enough premise: you take on the role of the eponymous blob, a revolutionary who has to save the denizens of what has become a drab, gray, orwellian world by splashing color over all the buildings. the game is pretty freeform in that you can move around an area as you please, but it’s structured around four types of basic challenges: color a set of buildings a certain color, follow a course with a mild time limit, defeat a certain group of enemies, and collect enough “paint points” to color a particular landmark. there are also a fairly large number of the usual, completely useless collectathons, some light platforming, and some standalone challenge tasks separate from the main story, as well as some multiplayer modes that i didn’t bother trying out.
the premise and the setup are fairly simple, but the game starts off fine. the coloring mechanic is fairly brainless, but the game has a lot of polish, esp. coming from a third-party developer. the game does a great job of tying the increased color of your surroundings to the soundtrack, really making the setting come alive through the dynamically developing music. the art is better than average, although nothing too noteworthy, and the controls are fine, although the floaty jumping, braking, and Z-targeting can definitely take some getting used to.
one of the main problems with the game that gets mentioned a lot is that each level is incredibly long. you have to accrue a certain number of points to move on to the next section, and it can easily take an hour to get through one level with no option to save along the way. also, if you want to go back and try to complete one of the collectathon tasks that you didn’t quite finish, you have to redo the whole level and start from scratch even if you were only one or two points shy.
the bigger problem i had with the game, and one that doesn’t seem to get mentioned much so maybe it’s just me, is that the game is incredibly repetitive. after the first level i kept waiting and waiting as i progressed through additional levels for something new to happen, but the gameplay remains virtually static throughout with minimal variation. also, the fact that the colors are exactly the same in each level means that the game has a curiously monochromatic feel after the first level since every area, once colored, looks like the same mess of colors as any other area. the buildings and levels themselves also have very little variation. i could barely bring myself to finish even half of this game, and although the levels did start to become somewhat more difficult, the difficulty was more of the tedious, “now you have to go all the way back to a previous area to get a certain color if you happen to lose it” variety than providing any real challenge. by that time i was so bored with the four types of challenges anyway that there really wasn’t anything compelling me to finish. the story and characterization are so minimal and generic that they certainly weren’t providing any motivation on that front either.
all in all this, along with the aforementioned boom blox, have made me despair at the wii’s offerings (although this game makes me feel it has more potential for a sequel i might actually be interested in playing), and i’m going to have to really try and refocus on all the other great, non-casual titles its library does include. there are certainly a lot that i’m interested in checking out, although from now on i’m going to be even warier of these “casual” titles than ever before.
polychromatic de blob links:
– entry at wikipedia
– review at nintendolife.com
– entry at metacritic.com
– there don’t seem to be many FAQs for the game, but here’s one on style locations
– trailers, wallpapers, etc. at the official site