Children often find joy in taking crayon to paper and turning the blank page into a vibrantly colorful mess. The act of bringing color to what was colorless is delightful and tangibly rewarding, yet as we grow older, this activity tends to lose its charm. De Blob, a great new platformer for the Wii, takes this act and makes it rewarding again in a way that can be enjoyed by players of all ages.
The story of de Blob is told through a series of excellent movies that manage to be funny and smart without a word of dialogue. The evil INKT Corporation, led by the dictatorial Comrade Black, has drained all the color from Chroma City, turning it into a drab, monochromatic metropolis. It has also turned its once diverse and colorful citizens, the Raydians, into sullen, homogenous Graydians. Blob joins forces with a resistance movement called the Color Underground to bring color back to Chroma City and liberate its people. In its own lighthearted, rated-E-for-everyone way, the game deals with the theme of political oppression, and the whole game can be viewed as one big visual metaphor about the role of art in a free society. But the game never bludgeons you with this stuff, so you can also just take it at face value as an entertaining little tale and leave it at that. In any case, the mischievous, versatile Blob is a terrific hero who oozes personality (among other things), and you'll quickly grow attached to him, as well as his fellow Color Underground members.
The basic goal of each level is to paint part of Chroma City and, by doing so, gradually free the city from the colorless grip of the INKT Corporation. As you paint the area, the color energy level (or, if you want to be old-fashioned about it, your score) increases, and you'll need to reach a certain total in each section before you can open the gate to the next. There's always a clock ticking down in Story mode, but this is not a high-pressure game. You generally have plenty of time to leisurely make your way through each section at your own pace, which is a good thing. It keeps the focus on the game's most enjoyable aspect: painting the town.
Blob starts each level without any color himself, but thankfully, Chroma City is crawling with paintbots, which are spiderlike robots with tanks of red, yellow, or blue paint on their backs. By smashing into one of these, Blob becomes coated with paint. Each paintbot you smash nets you 10 paint points up to a maximum of 100, which work both as his health and as his attack strength, as certain foes require a certain number of paint points to defeat. (Blob also gets bigger as he absorbs more paint.) Blob paints in broad strokes; simply making contact with a building while you're wearing a coat of paint is enough to cover every inch of the building's surface in that color, so you'll quickly turn drab, gray parts of town into vibrant neighborhoods again. Zooming around restoring color to the city is a lot of fun, at least partially because the visual results of your actions are so dramatic and so enjoyable to behold. Wiping out the monotony of INKT's rule is so satisfying that you'll naturally find yourself wanting to cover as much of the city in color as you can--not just the easily accessible areas, but every INKT propaganda billboard overlooking the city and every blimp soaring overhead--leaving no sign of INKT's oppression.