February 21, 2011
The small indie game company Drinkbox Studio might have something to prove, their second game in the Tales from Space series hits the PlayStation Vita… and it’s all about size! Though not a sequel, Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack!!! Is a follow up to their PlayStation Network title “About a Blob”. For a meager $7.99, Mutant Blobs Attack!!! proves a little can get you a lot, but will this game’s size be enough to sate hungry Vita owners?
From not so humble beginnings our mighty overlord, the Mutant Blob, began his life in a lab. The result of inferior human tampering to recreate a blob from space, the great spiky one escaped the lab only to begin his quest of utter retribution on the feeble beings that so foolishly set him on the path to total domination. Now we exist to serve our mighty amorphous one, free from the trappings of foolish ideas like freedom and prosperity!
In terms of cinematics there isn't much aside from the various brief cutscenes explaining the amorphous one's journey from one stage to the next. Either way the game oozes hilarity and devilish fun with its humorous take on a monster movie that you get to play. Everything about the graphics reinforces the feeling Drinkbox Studios wanted to encourage... fun.
You'll notice almost immediately that Tales From Space: Mutant Blobs Attack!!! Has a very Saturday morning cartoon feel to it. From the Environments to the characters and enemies, they all look like some kind of talking cartoon rabbit is just around the corner. This approach was definitely the right one due to the zany action that exists in this game. Mutant Blobs Attack!!! Never takes itself too seriously which is one of the most amazing things about this game. One minute you'll be barreling over a crowd of humans and watching them float around inside you, and the next you'll be staring at one of the hilarious jokes that can be found in the background of nearly every stage. The first level, a college dorm room is home to greasy couches, week old cheeto puffs, and horrible math pun posters. You progress from there, to a town, and all sorts of settings including but not limited to the moon, before wreaking your cold hungry vengeance on the metropolis. The levels never get tiresome to look at and new challenges and laughs are everywhere.
Just like the graphics, the music in Mutant Blobs Attack!!! is plucked right from some Saturday morning cartoons. There are plenty of tracks that really enhance the graphics and gameplay as well as sounding fun and playful on their own. A few songs are used a few times throughout the game but for the most part there are plenty of compositions that keep the music as fresh as the gameplay. Even stages like those taking place on the moon sound more "outer-spacey" to match the theme without losing the whimsical attitude this soundtrack exudes. Even the ending theme is a knee-slapping ballad from a scientist watching as the blob is destroying the world.
There are no voice-overs in Mutant Blobs Attack!!! save the random garbled "Charlie Brown adults" kind of thing going on, but the majority of happenings are told via images. Like the rest of the additions to this game I feel this really adds to the humorous atmosphere that is such a credit to the game's experience. Similarly sound effects are silly and zany while remaining appropriate and high quality. The humans' screams just before you eat them is totally priceless!
The best part about playing Mutant Blobs Attack!!! is the fact it’s fairly simple. It's a side scrolling platformer where you spend the first couple levels just jumping around eating everything in sight, not unlike real life (what just me?). Eventually you get access to magnetic powers that help you progress through levels, certain objects on the screen can be manipulated via the touch screen, and occasionally you gain the ability to fly in zero gravity. For the core gameplay however that's it. Despite this the various gameplay elements I described earlier come at a pace that keeps the gameplay pretty fresh. Later levels will test your reflexes and timing in a very real way. Making sure to apply the right polarity to your blob, guide metal plates so lasers don't fry you, or avoiding the weapons of the mobilized military will make this game more than a simple stroll through the park. If all else fails eating, growing, and terrorizing is literally so much fun you won't be disappointed.
Don't let this game's straight forward nature fool you though; it is a blast to play. You'll find yourself torn between your desire to reach riskier edible items and playing it safe and finishing the level. After all, the phrase "curiosity killed the blob" wasn't coined out of nowhere you know! It also helps that the controls themselves are very easy to pick up. Many items in the various levels can be manipulated using the touch screen, and your magnetic powers are mapped to the "L" and "R" buttons. Running and jumping are easy with the Vita's analog stick and "X" button and occasionally the use of a slam move will help you fall faster or break through objects by pressing the "Circle" button while in the air.
Occasionally you also have access to the occasional bonus level that uses the Vita's tilt sensors much like one of those marble games where you guide the marble through a maze and avoid holes. These levels are completely optional but completing them can help you more escaped blob friends, and of course net more points. They’re simple, fun, and a decent way to provide a brief respite from some of the more challenging platforming levels.
The game can be pretty easy to run straight through, and I estimate you could probably knock this game out in as little as three hours. The beauty of the game though is that levels aren’t too long and there are four per world. This makes the game very easy to pick up and go without forgetting where you are or what you were doing when you left off. Being a portable title on a handheld system this really is an asset.
Through the game's six worlds several of your old blob cronies from the lab can be found hiding in hidden or tough to reach areas. Collecting these goopy dudes doesn't do anything for you in the game, but collecting them all will net you a trophy. Once a level is completed you also have the ability to upload your point total from the level to a central server that will show you what people on your friends list have scored as well. I'm not the best at platformers but I have gone back to score higher on a few levels due to my competitive nature.
If you are the kind of person who ever wanted to a) eat vast amounts b) wreak havoc on mankind or c) play a great handheld platforming title that is as fun as it is funny, Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack!!! is definitely for you. The game utilizes many of the Vita's features such as tilt sensor and touch screen to bring some fresh additions to already solid platforming gameplay. Not to mention for the price this game makes it a no-brainer. Drinkbox Studios has effectively created one of the best experiences
on the Vita, for only $7.99. Trust me; experience is not a word I throw around lightly! Besides, if you don't pick up this game, our benevolent blob overlord shall wreak his vengeance upon you!