Rainbow Connection: Hands On With De BlobS

My Kotaku Tower compatriots have taken THQ's upcoming Wii exclusive De Blob for a paint-spattered spin in the past, but after giving it a try today during the publisher's Fall 08 and holiday preview event, I thought I'd add my own impressions of the single-player mode to the mix.

As we've told you in the past, you play as a pretty cute blob. Squishy blobs are in right now - just think of Independent Games Festival buzz-generators World of Goo and Goo!, to name just a couple. In fact, as Crecente reported last year, De Blob is actually the result of a student project from the 2006 Independent Games Festival.

As such, it retains both the simplicity and attractively colorful, offbeat vibe we often associate with promising indies. What are you a blob of? Color, it looks like, a heroic little splat plunked down in Chroma City, an adorable world that's had all of the hues sapped out of it by the evil I.N.K.T. Corporation.

It's super cute and quirky, but how does it play? Details and screens after the jump.

Rainbow Connection: Hands On With De BlobS



My tendency was actually to be a bit leery of THQ's Wii-heavy strategy. As I've mentioned before, I've got a little bit of "waggle fatigue," and you may recall I was not pleased with Battle of the Bands, where I felt the motion controls seemed a little bit frustrating and redundant.

De Blob, however, controls very simply and tightly judging by the few minutes I had with it - the way you roll your blob around with the nunchuk's thumbstick works particularly well, and put me distinctly in mind of Katamari Damacy. In fact, a lot of De Blob's gameplay seems to take a Katamari cue, from the camera control to the fashion of rolling over Chroma City's poor trapped citizens to set them free.

As Flynn explained, you hold the Z button to lock onto objects you can smash, and swing the Wii Remote down to jump on them. When you hit a paint can, your blob takes on the color you splash through, and colors can blend - if you're red and hit a blue can, for example, you become purple.

And as you roll through Chroma City, you paint it with the colors and patterns you're currently hanging onto, and you earn higher scores for a broad color palette and pattern diversity. The more paint you soak up, the heavier and less agile your blob becomes, and if you roll through two colors that don't blend well, like purple and green, you turn brown. Roll through water to rinse off and become colorless again, taking off some of that weight.

Your blob has to avoid stumbling into ominous-looking black rivers of ink, though - if you get inked, you'll spread depressing blacks and grays all over your colorful handiwork, killing trees and even obliterating your cheerful Chroma City citizens. You can wash off the ink by rinsing in water if you get there in time, though, and an optional onscreen map can point you in the general direction of the nearest water source.

The game features some platforming elements, and you swing the Wii Remote upward to jump, higher if you want more air. Flynn had said he noticed some issues with this - while I've never found motion controls to be ideal for platforming, I found it at least workable here, even if getting the timing and size of the movement just right might take some practice through playtime.

Just rolling the blob around and painting with color is surprisingly engrossing, especially because of the outstanding sound effects and music. The THQ rep told me that the entire soundtrack was done by an Australian local band who plays jazz music, and all of the game's tunes are sprightly and clever. My favorite part was how the music changes depending on what color you are, with the accompanying sound seeming to go with the hue.

Katamari Damacy succeeded through surprising aesthetics and simple gameplay, and it looks possible for De Blob to do the same - my one uncertainty about it is that it's still not clear to me exactly how much structure there is to the missions, or how you obtain the satisfaction of completing a single objective. That's not necessarily a problem - it might still be simple fun as an open-world, color-saturated free-for-all, but personally, I thrive on the joy rush of beating the clock and accomplishing something.