Game: Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack
Developer: DrinkBox Studios Inc.
Publisher: DrinkBox Studios Inc.
Available on: PlayStation Vita Only
I handed my Vita, loaded with a copy of Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack, to my younger cousin. It’s worth noting that he and Call of Duty maintain a rather exclusive relationship. “Hmm. This game is kinda cool,” he muses, his consciousness absorbed by the game’s puzzles.
This is the second time DrinkBox Studios has managed to captivate me with charming and clever puzzler/platform gameplay. Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack is the sequel to the overlooked, yet remarkably awesome, PSN title, Tales from Space: About A Blob.
The game is heavily inspired by Katamari Damacy and I would be surprised to hear the developer even attempt to deny that. I have no qualms with this. If they can define innovation as taking one awesome thing and making it even better, then who am I to complain? The end result is that I get to play a completely awesome game; and so does my cousin.
If you’re smart, you’ll afford yourself the same opportunity.
The player assumes the role of a small, cute, endearing green and purple blob that has nothing but malice in its tiny little heart. Or whatever has the heart’s job, but in a mutant.
Somehow he manages to escape the college lab that he finds himself in. Hungry, and perhaps angry, he starts to consume small things around him. Through this consumption, the player fills a meter in the top corner of the screen. When filled, the blob will be able to eat obstacles that impede his progress. As he continues to injest the world around him he grows in size and can in turn eat more things.
That’s the gameplay in a nutshell; eat things to eat bigger things until there are no things.
The fun is in navigating the increasingly complicated locales and terrains in order to do so. To meet this end, the blob will have a wealth of power-ups available to him. Particularly fun are the magnetic abilities you’ll frequently acquire. By holding down the trigger buttons you can either attract or repel certain objects. If said objects are stationary, you will either move towards or away from them. This ability is often used to dramatically increase jumping distance.
Next you have a rocket ability that allows you to defy gravity and move freely in all directions. You can trade precision for speed by depressing the right shoulder button. Or you can put your fingers in the center of the Vita’s rear sensor.
This control option surprised me. While it seems pitiful to complain about having to depress the shoulder buttons, utilizing my otherwise unused fingers to more easily control my character was a unique and appreciated touch. I would like to see more games use the rear sensor as extra buttons like this.
The more skill based platforming in the game tasks you with manipulating green nodes on the touch screen in order to manipulate the environment around you, as you simultaneously navigate via the Vita’s face buttons. Tales from Space introduces the player to these mechanics so gradually and intelligently that my cousin had absolutely no trouble adjusting to the new handheld or, for that matter, the new kind of game.
The levels are extremely well paced as you become accustomed to these power-ups and the game’s physics. The levels build on solutions you’ve already arrived at to offer more challenging, though never daunting, puzzles that reward you with a sort of “eureka!” moment.
As you travel from the College to the town, to a Jetsonian society on the moon and eventually a metropolis, the blob becomes much larger in size and, accommodatingly, the levels increase in scope. I suppose it should be left spoiler free but the last level is an absolute treat, showcasing your blob at the pinnacle of his power. In fact, it inspired an immediate replay from my young padawan, gripped by the compulsion to share his experience with me. He then punctuated the completion of the level with “You know, this game is pretty awesome.”
The game has all the qualities that a portable game should have. It’s very friendly to newcomers and can be played in short bursts. Each level also has a top score on it so replay value exists as well. Unfortunately for a more casual crowd, the game demands the additional control features of the handheld; features that are quickly making my Vita irreplacable by cellphones.
Visually and audibly the game has a very friendly and approachable appeal. The graphics are reminiscent of a pop out book with all the different objects looking as if they were individually cut-out and subsequently layered into the game’s world. If you’ve ever played “Yoshi’s Story” on the Nintendo 64, you will immediately understand what I mean.
In terms of soundtrack, it’s fair to assume that every song could be titled “Stealthy Spy Creeping Through Facility Ventilation System.” Enemies also make a rather comical scream when you roll over and devour them. A scream that quells the guilt you, as a human player, should feel for destroying humanity in such an inhumane way.
VERDICT: Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack, in many ways, feels like a beacon of hope for the new technology inside Sony’s new handheld. A lot of developers don’t seem to have a grasp on how to incorporate the motion and touch controls of the PlayStation Vita. DrinkBox Studios has managed to not only incorporate all of the unique control options but has managed to incorporate them in a manner that never feels forced and, instead, feels necessary.
If you’re a fan of platformers, Katamari Damacy, or are looking for a way to warrant the purchase of your shiny new Vita to a friend, you’re definitely going to want to buy this game.
If you don’t yet know if you like any of those things, find a way to try it out. This is the sort of game both you and your mother could enjoy and I’m sure she would support me in saying; trying new things is good for you.