By our count, we’ve previewed de Blob some four times now. Why should one game possibly warrant so much attention? Well, de Blob’s a special case: it’s an original title on a system starved for fresh ideas from third-party developers, it’s got a quirky concept and novel gameplay to back it up, and, judging from our latest play session with some of its later levels, it’s shaping up to be one of the most intriguing platform games since Super Mario Galaxy. It’s also got a kick-ass soul soundtrack recorded live by a 12-piece funk orchestra, and if that doesn’t demand attention, we don’t want to know what does.
Here’s a crash-course for the uninitiated: de Blob takes place in the once-colorful metropolis of Chroma City, where the nefarious I.N.K.T. Corporation has sucked the color and music of the town away. It’s up to a ragtag group of rebels to bring the funk back to town and rescue its enslaved inhabitants. Enter our hero, de Blob, who can absorb paint and literally wants to paint the town red: anything de Blob touches turns his color. You use the nunchuk to steer de Blob and the Wii remote to make him jump and do a Sonic-esque homing attack. Stages are large, open environments with a variety of missions within them, from covering entire buildings in a particular color within a time limit or defeating specific enemies.
Speaking of enemies, there are some pretty nasty ones in the late-game levels we tried out. There’s the Elite Inky - who’s impervious to de Blob’s attacks unless Blob’s a particular color. Introduced by a hilarious cutscene reminiscent of classic slapstick animation, this guy will quickly wash the color away from any careless gamer’s Blob-session. There's also the Jet Bikes, who zoom around Chroma City on hoverbikes shaped like fountain pens, causing all sorts of airborne mischief. And then there are the heavily-armored Leeches that’ll suck the paint out of de Blob’s gelatinous little body - yeah, it does seem kinda creepy.
These baddies represent a significant 180 from the pushovers you’ll find in the opening stages, which seems to be the general trend with de Blob’s difficulty curve. Mission objectives late in the game are similar to the early ones, but require judicious use of advanced techniques like air-braking, using lock-on to leap across long distances and steering in mid-air. Between juggling a variety of enemies, making use of these maneuvers and the rapidly escalating tempo of the soundtrack (the music gets crazier the more you color the stage), de Blob’s later levels are frantic, fun and clever.