If you’ve ever wondered why you don’t see more kids’ games reviewed on your favorite gaming web sites, it’s not just because that 8-year-olds don’t make up the primary readership. It’s also because professional reviewers often have a hard time placing themselves in the necessary mindset to really determine whether a game aimed at someone who has yet to master bike riding is really any good. Fortunately, this is of little concern with a game like de Blob 2, which is a good time no matter how old you are.

Comrade Black returns from the de Blob and is once again determined to rid the world of all color. His inky minions bust out all sorts of heavy weaponry – from tanks to rigged elections – to twist the world to their own monochromatic whims. Directed by his pal Pinky, the happy-go-lucky and permanently peppy Blob sets out to restore color to the world by painting everything in sight.

A hero as mighty as Blob need not fiddle about with brushes and buckets, however; he simply sops up a bunch of paint and rolls around, smacking into things. Anything he touches turns whatever color he’s sporting – red, orange, green, blue, purple, yellow, or even brown. Paint points keep track of how much pigment Blob has at his disposal. When he needs to top off, he can either wade into a puddle of paint or smash open a paintbot, with a compass pointing to the closest colors.

The object of each level is to restore the color balance by retaking key landmarks, like the library or police station, back from Comrade Black’s forces. These missions are brief, 2d platforming sections that usually require Blob to squash some enemies and flip some switches. The challenge usually lies in managing to stay painted long enough to reach the color-coded switch that you need to smack in order to proceed. Ink will turn you black, water will wash you clean, and accidentally slamming into the wrong color paintbot will force you to retrace your steps.

These story missions are the core of the game, but they’re not where you’ll have the most fun. Your enjoyment of de Blob 2 will come from just rolling around town, painting everything you can possibly reach, reclaiming the land from the nefarious colorphobes. The appeal for kids is obvious, but experienced gamers will find a lot to love, too. There’s something undeniably entertaining about turning a block of bleached buildings into a shockingly bright collection of purple, orange, and yellow structures. It’s garish and wonderful and incredibly easy to pull off. With one touch, Blob can instantly coat an entire structure in paint, so there’s no fiddling with the camera to track that spot you missed.

Completionists will quickly become obsessed with de Blob 2‘s collectibles and challenges. Not only are there lots of tokens, icons, and widgets to pick up, but you also receive rewards for liberating every last citizen, painting every tree, and smashing every bit of INKT Corporation junk. Exploring each location in order to track down every last trinket is remarkably relaxing when it’s combined with the game’s effortless painting mechanic.

de Blob 2 suffers from camera woes that can make exploration particularly vexing, and its targeting mechanic doesn’t always work quite the way you want it to. By pulling the left trigger, Blob locks onto whatever target is closest, but your definition of “closest” and the game’s will likely differ from time to time, sending you leaping off in precisely the wrong direction or, worse, changing you the wrong color. Many challenges involve painting something a specific hue, and having to return yourself brown because you accidentally crushed a blue paintbot is a pain.

The oddest choice the game makes is the use of a timer. You have a set amount of time to finish each level’s story missions. Once you do, the time goes away and you can take as long as you like to putter around and explore. I rarely see the benefit of timed levels, but they feel particularly pointless in de Blob 2. You’re given so much time that an experienced gamer is never going to be in danger of running out, and why force kids to play a level in a particular order? If they want to spend 15 minutes painting every last tree blue, why not let them? The timer seems to add nothing to the gameplay other than a vaguely nagging reminder that oh, yeah, there’s a storyline that needs completing.

de Blob 2 has a Super Mario Galaxy-esque co-op mode that puts Player 2 in the support role of shooting enemies and painting that would’ve been far more enjoyable if the ammo was unlimited. Player 1 will have to spend Inspiration Points to increase the amount of ammunition Player 2 can hold – points that could be used to increase their own paint-carrying capacity or armor. Blob Party, multiplayer challenges to see who’s the best Blob, are far more fun.

Bottom Line: de Blob 2‘s cheerful demeanor and simple goals make it a natural for the younger set – or anyone suffering from Grim Shooter Ennui.

Recommendation: If you’re a parent, or looking to introduce a newbie to the world of gaming, this is a great choice. If you’re a more experienced player just looking to indulge your gaming OCD, you’ll find great satisfaction hunting down every last billboard, tree, and Graydian.

[rating=4]

What our review scores mean.

This review is based on the Xbox 360 version of the game.

Game: de Blob 2
Genre: Platforming
Developer: Blue Tongue Entertainment
Publisher: THQ
Release Date: February 22, 2011
Platform: Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, DS
Available from: Amazon

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