De Blob 2: 'Standing up against The Man'
22nd Feb 2011 | 15:02
Although it didn't exactly set the gaming world on fire, the first De Blob was and still is one the best third-party offerings on Nintendo's Wii.
What it lacked in the gameplay variety department it made up for with a unique mix of platforming and painting mechanics that made creative use the Wii's motion control capabilities.
Picking up a couple of years after the end of the first game, De Blob 2 tasks players with taking control of Blob as he and the members of the Colour Underground restore some vibrancy to the world.
This time, however, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 owners can also get in on the paint job. We had a chat with brand manager Rick Davis to chat about the history of De Blob, its multiplatform debut and what's changed since the first game.
De Blob has had an interesting history, it started life as a student project much in the same way that Portal did, how did it come to be a THQ game?
Yes, it was actually a student project for a PC game from Denmark. It's such a different game now but the original IP, where it came from, was something that THQ had looked at and really saw the potential in. THQ was able to work with the students and get the rights to the IP and gave it to Blue Tongue in Australia who made it into the Wii game it is, adding the deeper storylines that are fun because they have kids humour as well as darker undertones that make it fun for everybody.
With the second title why did you decide to go multi-platform rather than sticking with the Wii and carving out a reputation as one of the best Wii third-party franchises on the market?
Honestly, I think it's a strong offering on all the platforms, it's in a direction where it was developed for the Wii and much of the work from a development standpoint was done on the Wii. So it's not to say that they're eyes weren't on Wii, they've taken that original concept and made it so much more deeper.
There's everything from tropical bio-domes to levels with ice mechanics and physics and space levels. They've taken that Wii experience, the storyline and the visuals and maxed out the Wii and brought it to other platforms. I think there was less of a focus on platforms and more on how we can take the game to the next level and create that deeper game. It just made sense to make it available on all the platforms.
One of the criticisms of the first game was a lack of variety, what has been done to address this in the second game?
I think that was definitely one of the big things for the second game. There's environmental variety, so you're not just in a city, you can go into outer space, ice levels and tropical Islands so there's a huge visual difference. Then from a gameplay and mechanic standpoint you're achieving things and unlocking things the whole way through the game, in the first game everything was unlocked from the get-go. There's a whole new round of power-ups that didn't exist before, there's hazmat suites that let Blob roll through ink without being hurt, super-charge where Blob can go through the destructible parts of the environments.
The environments themselves have also been brought to life, literally everything can be painted; there's trees, grass, cars, hovercars that fly to life when they're painted, as everything is painted back to life it becomes a hustling bustling metropolis or Bio-dome, those are the biggest elements.
The first game felt like a concept, how did the team build on the first game to flesh it out into a more complete experience?
Because they were building on something that had already been established it allowed them to make it a more rounded game. When you're going in and building from scratch you have to sell the concept. For De Blob that was quite abstract since you're a colourless blob and have to pick up paint and paint the world back to life. You have to get the mechanic right and they nailed it.
Now it's about taking that mechanic that people understand and making it a full-fledged game. They've introduced things like 2D levels, whereas last time you had to paint the outside of levels now you can go inside and you have levels that are a throwback to classic Mario style gameplay that we all love.
How does De Blob use the strengths of the PS3 and Xbox 360?
It does support Move, the biggest thing when you look at the other platforms was really just building a highly polished game that is different from games that are on those platforms. It's not a shooter, so it's nice to be able to bring a title to give those guys that grew up playing classic platform games that experience on their modern console.
Did you look into using Kinect on the Xbox 360?
We definitely thought about it. We've had a control change on the Wii because we had a few complaints about fatigue where you flick for every jump, that's been changed to a button press and motion has been used for other things such as escaping the effects of a hypno-ray. So on the other consoles these controls can translate.
Are you interested in working with the Sony NGP?
Yes. THQ are open to it all and want to do whatever is best for the gamers and what brings this IP to new environments that show it off best.
Is it less appealing or less of a benefit for publishers and developers to keep a Wii game exclusive now that the Move is out there?
I think that is where things are headed. It made sense for this game in particular, I don't necessarily think that we develop everything with that portability in mind, it's really about taking each of those consoles and developing a game that works best for each of them.
In this case it was an easy thing to say "the Move would work really well for those gamers who want that", we also built it with the normal controller gamers in mind.
Have you introduced any new Wii remote mechanics since the first game?
One of the biggest changes is multiplayer, a second player can play alongside Blob as his sidekick Pinky. They have a shooting ability, they aren't on screen but have a paintball gun and can earn Blob more points by shooting paint pots and help paint building.
Are there any games that De Blob draws inspiration from in trying mix up the story and mechanics to appeal to older audiences?
I don't know of any specific games but there are some real world influences when it comes to story. Obviously they're not picking any sides but you do see references in the game, things that allow you to say that the Corporation could represent a whole lot of things that happen in the real world. Everybody loves being that free spirit that stands up for themselves and goes against The Man.
What would you say is the defining feature of De Blob 2 and why should people play it?
I think the defining feature this time around is that variety, it's exciting to play every step of the way and gives you a reason to keep going through and discovering whole new parts of the game by having fun with painting.