de Blob 2 is a purple cow. Partly because de Blob can turn purple, and partly because the game does, at certain stages, actually feature cows; but mostly because de Blob is one of the most original video games in development today.
But what the hell is a Purple Cow? Well, in marketing gobbledigook, a Purple Cow is a product (or concept) so dazzling – so original, vibrant and fresh – that it can’t help but sell, merely through the fact that it exists in and of itself.
So we put it to Nick Hagger. Is de Blob 2 a purple cow?
We barely even had a chance to finish the question. In fact he stopped us at ‘purple’. Actually he stopped us ‘pu’.
Turns out he understands precisely what we’re getting at.
“Yeah, totally! The Purple Cow by Seth Godin,” he exclaims, naming the book that famously introduced the concept.
The original de Blob is a game that, to a certain extent was successful in spite of how it was sold to the gaming public. Here is a game marketed at children, an explosion of colour and sound, that ended up crossing over to an adult audience. The magic of a purple cow, and the magic of de Blob, is that it’s a phenomenon worth sharing. An idea worth spreading.
“You’re right,” continues Nick, “it’s an interesting idea, because with the original de Blob we tried to sell it to a younger audience, and that may have been a misfire with how the publisher was treating it. It’s the old problem of a creative industry meeting a mercantile one – they’ve got a job to do, they’re trying to get this out to an audience they can identify with.
“And, don’t get me wrong I understand the constraints they’re working in – but I think they missed an opportunity. Weirdly enough, though, the public didn’t! It’s weird, marketing fucked up, but the public got that de Blob was more than just product – they got it that it was somehow different. They got that it was clever beyond the sum of its parts, and that became a word of mouth thing.”
Strangely enough, you get the impression that it was the strong critical and commercial reaction to the original that spurred Blue Tongue’s development of the sequel. Whereas de Blob almost felt like a game unaware and unsure of its own greatness, the sequel has a razor sharp focus, and a broad understanding of what works within its own mechanics.
“The first game I look back on it and it sort of makes me cringe a bit,” claims Hagger. “It’s definitely cool, it’s definitely fun – it’s nice. And different.
“We made some decisions towards the end because we could support it, but the game became kinda samey after a while. Once we knew what we had we didn’t really have the time to go wow! Let’s go nuts with what we’ve discovered and turn it into some freakish creation that everyone will love.”
With de Blob 2, however, Nick Hagger and the team have had the time to go nuts. And what they’ve conjured up in their Blue Tongue Chocolate Factory is a freakish creation we’re pretty sure you’ll love.
At the very least, we’ve fallen in love with it, in a very big way. de Blob 2, at its root, is a supremely simple game, but it’s so heavily doused in feedback that to play it is to become one with a pulsing, endlessly tactile environment that moulds to your presence like an enormous multi-coloured ball of plasticine.
de Blob 2 is constantly rewarding you – and not via an endlessly increasing point score, or unlockables you couldn’t care less about – it rewards you visually, and aurally, in a manner that almost glues your smile from earlobe to earlobe. It’s a beautiful thing. An environment that opens as a dull fascist-grey canvas is slowly transformed into a palette of vibrant colour and sound – and at the centre of it all is de Blob; the life and soul of a giant paint party.
de Blob is a game for kids, but it has that magical Pixar-esque ability to ensnare adults by making them feel like children. We mention this contradiction to Nick Hagger, but to an extent he disagrees. According to him there’s space for both audiences to fall in love with de Blob – for completely different reasons.
“There’s a particularly beautiful moment you have as an adult watching kids playing the game,” begins Hagger, “because you think – wow! These guys are seeing something completely different here. They like it for different reasons. You can put them in a level and they will play it forever! Kids are really sensitive to weird sounds and stuff like that, so in a game like de Blob, kids connect with it in a strange way that adults don’t.
“Adults get into the sophisticated groove a bit more. I think the music really picks up on the revolutionary vibe of the game – we’re trying to capture that soul music vibe that was coming out of the late 60s, particularly with the uprisings that were occurring. There’s so much power from the music, and you really get a groove on when you’re playing it. There’s a particular headspace that I think adult gamers go into when they’re playing de Blob 2 that is, I reckon, quite different to any other game out there. “
We totally agree. In a market where colour has been sucked dry, de Blob is the quintessential Purple Cow. But it’s also a yellow cow, a green cow, a blue cow, a brown cow, an orange cow.