Way back when the Wii was at the height of popularity, third party games were fighting for shelf space. Many of those games have since fallen to obscurity, but there were those with staying power. De Blob has been sticking around in one way or another for the last 10 years, making its way from the Wii onto Windows, iOS, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and finally onto the Nintendo Switch—which is the version I played for this review.
In de Blob you take control of the titular protagonist as you rebel against the authoritarian INKT Corporation. They have sucked all the color from Chroma City and its usually colorful inhabitants and it’s your task to restore color and defeat their evil, black-inked regime. To do this you’ll need lots of color, and an appropriately amusing soundtrack to keep you (literally) rolling. When you play as Blob, you start as a colorless orb, but you can break vials of color to change Blob’s color, or even mix colors to create new ones—which is situationally helpful.
De Blob, while not without its challenges, is a pretty chill experience. To recolor Chroma City, you simply need to grab some colors and touch objects to color them. A whole building can be painted with a single touch, so you’re not literally forced to repaint every inch—though to proceed it can feel that way at times. There is a certain amount of points that must be achieved before a gate opens and allows you access to the next area, with most levels being divided into three or four such areas. There are enemies to defeat in de Blob, but most of them require a single button press and little timing. Some enemies take more paint than others, though, and as you progress there are those that can threaten to remove one (or more) of your limited lives for any given level. And while each level is timed, running out of time merely makes you lose a life, resetting the clock, but not your progress.
While some games attempt to feel retro, de Blob manages retro just through virtue of being old. The characters, dialogue, and activities you are able to do feel like they’re from a bygone era—rightfully so, because de Blob originally released in 2008. While its age doesn’t do it any favors, it manages to hold up pretty well, but not perfectly. The camera is often frustrating, and feels like you can barely control it. Moving around as Blob doesn’t feel that bad, but jumping is a nightmare. Sometimes you are faced with jumping puzzles, and Blob feels like a brick, barely able to lift off of the ground. It’s awful.
Most of the levels in de Blob take an open world approach. You can do multiple activities in level besides just painting and facing enemies. Some of these challenges are required for moving forward, but most can be done for fun, for completionist sake, or to help towards unlocking your gate if you’re not set on coloring every building to do so. Most challenges consist of simply painting things, but in most cases, you have to do it within a certain time limit or paint something a certain color.
Music is an important part of de Blob. It’s ingrained in the entire experience. Each time you start a level you are given the option to pick between several different genres of music, which the game refers to as “your mood.” When you color Blob different colors, a different instrument will play for that color—and the more painted the world, but more full the music sounds. It’s a little touch, but a neat one.
The story is passable. It’s told mostly in cutscenes, it does a good job of showing off de Blob’s whimsical world in pre-rendered cutscenes. Unfortunately, these cutscenes were rendered way back in 2008, in low resolution. If you’re playing de Blob handheld, it’s not as noticeable, but when you have it up on a big screen TV these cutscenes really give away its age. The story doesn’t really do much besides set the stage for the action.
De Blob has been around for a while, but maybe there’s a reason to its staying power: it’s fun, casual, and still visually appealing even a decade later. Its clunky controls and poor camera reveal its age, but those problems aside, it’s a solid platformer that feels genuinely retro at times. If that’s something you want, de Blob is available now on Nintendo Switch.