Originally launching way back when on the Wii, this super-colourful puzzle-platformer is now on the brink of turning a decade old. At the time, de Blob stood out from the crowd thanks to its ever-present charm – despite some frustrating control niggles – and we definitely enjoyed our time with the game on Nintendo’s remote-wagging machine. But how does this remastered version compare? And is it still worth playing today? Let’s explore.
From the very opening scene you’re thrown into a world of barmy chaos and creativity, with fantastic cinematic animation sequences telling a Minion-esque tale. The bad guys, called the I.N.K.T. Corporation, have drained Chroma City of colour, seemingly imposing a law that restricts anyone having even an ounce of fun. de Blob’s goal is to sort them out once and for all, restoring the world back to its former fluorescent glory and saving the trapped ‘Raydian’ inhabitants.
To do this, you must set out on an adventure through ten sizable levels, using the little walking paint pots scattered around the streets to soak up colour and splash it everywhere you can. Simply rolling into buildings, jumping up to billboards, and even shimmying amongst the trees will transform them from their dreary grey to a succulent colour of your choosing, but there are numerous tasks scattered throughout each level which earn you big points and help to progress the story.
Often, these tasks revolve around painting a particular block of apartments a certain colour, or jumping into an important structure to restore a key part of your current location. They’re often rather repetitive, with similar objectives needing to be met for each one, but they do give the player a sense of purpose that would otherwise have been lacking. Completing these tasks helps to score points, and these points are needed to unlock gates to future areas.
Every level oozes with personality, each coming with its own slightly different theme, and you can choose to stick around and see the sights rather than rush through if you prefer. Completing the tasks will grant you the quickest way through the game, but getting a glimpse at what you’ve managed to accomplish at the end of each level shows you just how much there is to do. In fact, each of the ten levels has ten achievements to aim for such as painting 100% of the surface, painting all trees, freeing all Raydians, and so on. de Blob rewards those who like to squeeze every last drop out of a game the most.
That isn’t all, either, as beating the main levels also unlocks extra activities to do in those areas that are much more challenging than the main event. As an example, the very first of these tasked us with colouring a set number of buildings in different colours, all while an unforgiving timer started to put the pressure on. The difference in pace comes as quite a shock here, as the story itself is a relatively relaxed affair.
There are other modes for you to explore, too, starting with a ‘Free Paint’ offering which allows you to explore the main game’s worlds without any pressure from enemies or plot points. There are also multiplayer minigames that see up to four players painting the same location together, trying to score more points than their opponents with slightly varying rule sets. A particular favourite game of ours sees you painting over each other’s buildings with your own colour – similar in a way to Splatoon 2’s Turf Wars.
Of course, being a port of a game that originated on Wii, several changes have been made over the last ten years. The most notable of these is the new control setup, which ditches the Wii’s use of flicking the Remote to jump and replaces it with a simple press of the ‘A’ button. The controls rarely stray from moving your character around with control stick and using a combination of ‘A’ and ‘ZL’ to attack/collect paint, which is pleasingly simple to pick up, but the annoyances present in the original release have unfortunately remained very much intact.
Our main issue here is that moving the camera around can feel slow and restrictive, even after whacking up its sensitivity in the menu. When trying to look up at the scenery around us, we’d usually have to stop moving, press the ‘L’ button, and use a different viewpoint to look around, rather than simply exploring on the go. de Blob’s movement itself presented similar issues, with a combination of floaty physics and less-than-agreeable cameras often resulting in missing target platforms. It doesn’t ruin the experience, but we’d love to see these elements improved for a smoother feel.
In every other area, it does the job nicely. The visuals have unsurprisingly improved since the Wii version, and while the cartoony vibes never reach the heights of Nintendo’s first-party efforts, everything remains smooth and pleasing to the eye – especially in handheld mode. The soundtrack offers a selection of jaunty tunes of varying styles, and in a very nice touch, you can actually choose which song you’d like to have playing in the background before you jump into any level.
The music actually evolves as you paint your chosen level, too, with songs starting off quite sparse, going on to build with new layers and textures as you fill the world with colour. It’s clever, it’s creative, and it sums up what de Blob is all about quite nicely. It’s not a perfect feat of technical excellence, and it won’t have the likes of Super Mario Odyssey shaking in its colourful platformer boots, but it should definitely leave you with a smile on your face nonetheless.
It may well be almost ten years old, but de Blob is still a very welcome addition to the Switch’s library. It is by no means perfect, with several camera and control issues and a slight sense of repetition dragging the game down somewhat, but it makes up for these problems with colour, creativity, and fun. From the Minion-style cutscenes to the adorable, “yays,” from rescued residents, we can see kids and big kids having a great time here.