After immersing myself in the colorful world of THQ's "de Blob" for many hours, I was quickly able to come to two conclusions about this new Wii platform game.
First, "de Blob" ($49.99) is without a doubt the best painting-themed video game since the obscure '80s arcade title "Make Trax," aka "Crush Roller."
And second, this is clearly one of the most engaging, creative third-party Wii games to date.
"De Blob," based on a free PC game developed by Dutch students, rides a classic good-versus-evil theme. The empiresque I.N.K.T. Corporation has sucked all the color out of the formerly spectral Chroma City, leaving its residents in a monochrome funk.
As de Blob, your mission is to soak up paint and roll, bounce and flip around the city to free its buildings, streets and enslaved brethren from a black-and-white eternity.
You control your gelatinous character's movement using the nunchuk's control stick while swatting the Wii remote to attack Inky soldiers, open gates and load up on confiscated color from Paintbots.
Help comes from four fellow revolutionaries who teach various maneuvers, tricks and attacks while offering mini-challenges that must be completed to advance to subsequent levels.
It's a simple concept, but "de Blob" comes to life in the way each level of Chroma City's expansive landscape is revealed.
Untouched sections that first appear as blank color-by-number sheets burst into a rainbow of hues as your character explores, much like the sepia-to-Technicolor transition in "The Wizard of Oz."
Your race against time is aided by several pickups, which include clock bonuses, extra lives and tankers that provide temporary invincibility and unlimited paint.
Styles let de Blob paint in various graffiti-styled patterns, and jumping on a transform engine immediately provides color to the surrounding landscape.
There are also several hazards to avoid, such as hot plates, spikes and electricity. When de Blob stumbles into a blank ink puddle, he must find his way to water and dive in to save himself from oblivion.
That same water can also be a hazard when de Blob is happily painting away, as it removes all his paint.
Cut scenes do a great job telling a creative story, and the action is just as smooth and engaging as the cinematics.
The game doesn't come anywhere near tapping the motion capability of the Wii remote, but that's not a huge issue here.
The visuals are stunning, and "de Blob" is simply a fun game to play.
Three and a half out of four stars.