While 3D platformers weren't as numerous at E3 this year as they've been in the past, they still put in a good showing with the likes of Ratchet & Clank and Banjo Kazooie. The standout title for me, however, was de Blob, a wonderfully strange game about a giant paint-filled bouncing ball fighting against a world of monochrome. The I.N.K.T. Corporation has sucked all the color, life, and fun from Chroma City, and only de Blob, backed up by the Color Underground, can prevent their dull blandness from overtaking everything.
The gameplay is pretty straightforward. You guide de Blob around with the analog stick, flick the remote to make him jump, and do a quick tap of the A to pop up a little circle pointing out objectives. The real charm comes from the setting, with the Euro-styled antiauthoritarianism overtones as a cool bonus. Chroma City is a bleak place, grey, oppressed, and overrun by I.N.K.T's stooges, but fortunately the color removers patrolling the streets are fat with the paint they've stolen. They come in red, blue, or yellow, and smashing them open fills de Blob's color gauge. Once de Blob is a color you're happy with, it's time to get to work bringing the city back to life.
To paint an object, de Blob only needs to touch it, dousing the entire structure in brilliant color. As buildings and trees spring back to vivid life, the background music gets more energetic, Chroma City's people leave their buildings to celebrate in the streets, and even the sky turns from grey to a bright blue. The change from drab to vibrant is a gradual one in each section of a level, made obvious when you pass through the gate to the next area, and everything instantly becomes muted again.
de Blob takes the idea of color equaling life and runs with it, not only for the sake of being clever, but also to make some great gameplay. It's a lot of fun to jump around the city, painting buildings for the heck of it, searching out challenges, or finding the hidden texture collectibles sequestered away in tricky rooftop areas. There's some great platforming action to go with de Blob's color theory and "Vive la Resistance!" overtones. I can't wait to see how the whole thing plays out when it hits later this year.