Don't Beware of de Blob
In the 1958 sci-fi classic "The Blob," the Jell-O-like creature in question was a real jerk, but in de Blob, a platforming puzzler THQ will release on the Wii, DS and PC this September, the Jell-O-like creatures are happy-go-lucky folk ? until some bad aliens come and suck the color out of their world. It is thus up to you to repaint the place by sucking up color and bouncing into things, coloring them anew, all of which makes de Blob sound like something painter Jackson Pollock might've come up with had he lived long enough to become a Katamari fan. According to Blue Tongue's Nick Hagger, the producer on the Wii version, there's more to this wonderfully weird game than just going nuts with color.
Crispy Gamer: From watching people play it, it looks like you have to paint your world by jumping into some paint and then bumping into things and doing some platforming, all while avoiding traps and racing against the clock.
Nick Hagger: Yeah, that's pretty much it in a nutshell. One of the things you missed, one of the things that will get people to replay it over and over, is the music, which was recorded by a funk and soul orchestra. The music starts off slow-paced, but as the world gets more colorful, the music picks up tempo and complexity. On top of that, each color corresponds to an instrument -- green is keyboards, while purple is wah-wah guitar, and so on -- so as you're painting the world with that color, that instrument comes in more.
Crispy Gamer: As I understand it, the original game was made by eight Game Design & Development students at Utrecht School of the Arts and one Games and Media Technology student at Utrecht University in the Netherlands.
Hagger: Right. It was commissioned by the city of Utrecht, and the kids put together the original idea for PCs. THQ saw the game and licensed the idea.
Crispy Gamer: So are any of those kids working on this version?
Hagger: No. Though as part of the deal, THQ gave them some development equipment, and I think since they've graduated they've set up their own studio and are pitching new games to studios.
Crispy Gamer: Nice. So what are some of the traps with which players have to contend in the game?
Hagger: There's a whole ton of heinous hazards. There are hot plates, electric grillers, spiked platforms and pools of ink into which you'll get sucked.
Crispy Gamer: Will there also be cold hazards? Bob from "The Blob" hated the cold.
Hagger: Yeah, they don't like the cold either. When one of them goes into a pool of water, he suffers from shrinkage and goes down in size very quickly.
Crispy Gamer: Now, a friend of mine is colorblind. Will he be able to play de Blob?
Hagger: We actually have a couple colorblind people on the development team. Believe it or not, people who are colorblind can often differentiate hues, so it's apparently not a big problem.
Crispy Gamer: Does it matter what color you paint the buildings?
Hagger: Well, different missions require you to paint with different colors, and there's a scoring mechanic that scores you on the variety of colors you've used, so yes, it does matter.
Crispy Gamer: Some people have compared this game to the Katamari series, though more in spirit than in gameplay terms. Do you think that's a fair comparison?
Hagger: It's not only fair, it's an awesome compliment. There are a lot of Katamari fans on the development team, but we've gotten a lot of complimentary comparisons. People have mentioned Jet Set Radio, Rez and Okami, and there are elements of all those games in de Blob. I hope we make a game as good as those.
Crispy Gamer: Are there any multiplayer modes?
Hagger: Yup. There's four-player split-screen multiplayer. It's offline in this version, but if the game does well and we make a sequel, we'll go online. I'd really like to make an online co-op mode; I think that would be a lot of fun.
Crispy Gamer: The game is coming out on the Wii, DS and PC. Why is it not coming to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 as well?
Hagger: That's usually not a decision the developer makes, that usually comes from the publisher side, but we championed that we wanted it to be a Wii game, and all the early prototyping we did showcased how this game would work with the Wii's and DS's unique controls.
Crispy Gamer: Finally, what's your favorite flavor of Jell-O?
Hagger: Either raspberry or lime, though it's been a lot time since I've had Jell-O.