Tales from Space returns, this time for the Vita. Is it better?
I am going to take a stab and guess that everyone who got his or her Vita on launch was super excited for the big names that came with it. You’ve got the likes of Uncharted, Wipeout andFIFA, just to name a few. What people must not forget is that the Vita has a digital store where you can get hold of some great classic PSP games, and also some fresh Vita games that you can only find on there. Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack is a game that came out on thePlayStation Vita store at launch, and is a surprisingly fun indie game from the developers atDrinkbox Studios.
Admittedly, I never got round to playing the first game in this series, which was Tales from Space: About a Blob on the PlayStation 3, so the whole experience of the Tales from Spaceseries is new to me. Call me pleasantly surprised when I found out what the game was about. You see, I am a big fan of the Katamari series from Namco Bandai, and Mutant Blobs Attacktakes some of the features from that series and makes it work in a 2D environment. Mix that up with platforming and some other funky gameplay mechanics and what we have here is a exciting indie game.
Players take on the role of a blob who escapes from the Humane Blob Torture Research Centre. You must help the blob progress through the game’s 24 main levels set across six environments, but, to do that, you’ll need to use the Blob’s special abilities, such as absorbing stuff into your gooey body, using the Blob’s magnetic pull and push force field, and lastly his ability to hover and boost when allowed to fly.
Mutant Blobs Attack is a 2D platformer that thoughtfully blends in these different mechanics. The magnetic move is something that can always be activated with the shoulder buttons. Using steel pipes outlined in purple (same colour as your magnetic field), you can either attach to them to slide around, like some Spiderman wannabe, or use the force to launch yourself into a jump that will sending you flying. Drinkbox does some cunning platforming with the magnetic idea. One that stood out for me is when you are being sucked into the tunnels (happens quite a bit) and you have to attach and push away from the pipes to dodge spikes. It’s an adrenaline filled rush as you gain speed and keeping an eye out on what button to press to stop your blob getting spiked to bits.
Normally, the other two abilities, eating and flying, are used in certain situations in the level. You can tell what you need to do by what the game indicates on screen; for example, when you need to start increasing your size, you will notice a little green blob in the top right screen of theVita. This shows your size at the moment and a silhouette of the size you need to reach to absorb the cork that is blocking your path. At the start you take in smaller items like apples and baseballs. Later on, prepare to be oozing over cows, chickens and humans. Flying with the booster is new to the series and mixes up the gameplay so that you aren’t always just rolling and jumping.
Mutant Blobs Attack doesn’t go overboard with the Vita features. The touch screen is used to interact with platforms that you can manipulate to make paths or block lasers that have a nasty habit of targeting you. Once again, the developers came up with some interesting ways to use this function. Sometimes you’ll use the touch to flick a platform to launch your blob. Another one is where you have to use the multi-touch to control two platforms at the same time as a laser is aiming at you. Drinkbox showcases what you can do with simplicity as these touch designs make a big impact on the gameplay without feeling forced into the game, a reminder that the option of touch screen is just an option.
Tilt-a-blob is a level that appears once in every zone. These move the camera perspective from the side to a top down view. Using the Vita’s built in gyros players must tilt the system to move the blob around the level. If motion control isn’t your idea of a good time, you don’t have to take part in these levels as they are optional. Half of the tilting levels are digital interpretations of those wooden maze puzzles where you had to move the ball around without it falling down the holes. Holes in this game seem willingly happy to pull you into them. I felt sometimes that when I was close to a hole the game was cheating me in some way; I swear I never tilted in the direction of the hole, but as I moved I would fall into them. It was a little frustrating, but you learn to go at a snail’s pace to beat them. Luckily, not all the tilt-a-blob levels are based on this structure. Some are just straight up, top-down Katamari Damacy as you have to roll up loads of garbage to get past the finish point.
Taking a cue from old B-movie horror films from the middle of the 20 century, the style ofMutant Blobs Attack is simple with a twist of retro vibe. Keeping with the theme, the game presents itself as if you are watching through an old TV set. You can see this effect in the screenshots in this review, as the borders of the screen are rounded to represent this visual style. The Vita’s OLED screen brightly lights up the varied colour schemes. I’m not sure if it has to do with the old television visual motif, but the graphics have a soft blur to them; yet, overall, the simple design looks nice. One of the problems I did have with the overall presentation is mainly due to the sound. I felt that the music that’s there, while good, gets a little repetitive over time. Over the course of four hours, the game crashed, and a sound bug for the music became stuck in 1 second loops. I might be just unlucky, but this sadly spoilt what was otherwise a nicely presented game.
Mutant Blobs Attack isn’t a long game, lasting around 4+ hours to get through all the levels. You are only paying £5.49 for this game, so none of you should be complaining about not getting your money’s worth. To extend on this, you can try find all the hidden blobs that are tucked away in levels, making you explore every corner to become a completionist. Medals are awarded for high scores, so you can try aim for gold in every level too. The only problem you might come away with is once you’ve finished the game, you’ll be wishing there were more levels, because what’s there is, at the moment, a delight to play.
I certainly recommend people with Vitas to check out the store and pick up Mutant Blobs Attack. It’s a great little title to play, and it isn’t trying to steal your game time for the bigger titles on the system. Instead, it perfectly compliments those with fun, short levels, easy to learn controls, and intuitive level designs that never make you feel bored. The short time you spend with this game is sure to put a smile on your face.