Review: Tales From Space: Mutant Blobs Attack (PSV)
Title: Tales From Space: Mutant Blobs Attack
Format: PlayStation Network Download (127 MB)
Release Date: February 21, 2012
Publisher: DrinkBox Studios
Developer: DrinkBox Studios
Original MSRP: $7.99
ESRB Rating: E10+
Tales From Space: Mutant Blobs Attack is exclusive to the PlayStation Vita.
I was fortunate enough to meet the guys from Drinkbox Studios when they were showing the first of the Tales From Space games, ‘About A Blob,’ It grabbed me instantly as we played coop, and it quickly became a game that stayed on my radar until it was released. I always really enjoyed the game, and was pleased to find out that they were working on a Vita game in the Blob universe. Keep reading to see if this new title is merely a port, or if it actually successfully made the transition to a handheld state of mind.
The audio review for this game is available on Episode 259 of the podcast.
At its core, Mutant Blobs Attack is a Puzzle/Platformer. The controls are incredibly solid, and the folks at Drinkbox have made some improvements since About a Blob, and all of these changes really add to the notion of shaking things up in an attempt to defeat monotonous gameplay. But it’s not just an attempt, because this is one of the most solid games I’ve ever played.
You play as a blob. Movement is pretty standard for a platformer, with the ability to move left and right, and to jump. Instead of jumping on the heads of foes though, you simply run into them, ingesting them in the process. As you ingest more and more, be it objects, people, or blue dots, you eventually get bigger, which is visualized by the camera essentially moving out. Once you get a size bigger, you can ingest bigger things, and so on. Along the way though, obstacles such as lasers and spikes are placed strategically throughout the levels specifically to stop your progress. Unlike the first game, co-op does not appear in this one, but they have added a new play-type from time-to-time that can be a blast. You’ll pass through something that looks like a transporter, which is a gateway to a gravity-free zone in the level. Movement in these sections consists of using X to use essentially a rocket for propulsion, but you can go anywhere and aren’t limited to platforms. Also included are bonus levels that use the SIXAXIS capabilities of the Vita, presented in an overhead view as you move your Blob around the levels using only the motion controls. The bonus levels control really well, and really mixes things up. My only complaint though, is that some of the round holes that you can fall through seem to have a recessed rim that suck you in if you get too close. Unfortunately, there are a couple of instances that require you to be VERY precise. It can be frustrating, but nothing that makes the score any lower at the end of the day.
Another control element is the ability to use your shoulder buttons to control magnetic powers. You’ll see objects that have a purple-colored aura around them, indicating that your magnetic powers will interact with them, and this introduces yet another puzzle element into the mix. Using the shoulder buttons, you can control either a repulse or attract to that object. The repulse feature particularly can be used to launch yourself to higher sections of the level, where you might find some secrets…
There are even some areas that will require you to use these powers exclusively as you navigate through sections surrounded on all sides by items that will instantly eliminate you. At times, this can get a bit frustrating, but since you get unlimited lives, you can definitely utilize a trial & error methodology to make your way through.
You’ll find very early on, that a big part of each level contain a bunch of puzzle elements. Every puzzle has a great balance of challenge vs fun, and this what makes the game so great. The difficulty ramps-up very smoothly throughout the game, and even a puzzle that you come across that you may think is too difficult, you’ll figure it out pretty quickly. The funny part about all of this i that I don’t normally enjoy platformers with too many puzzle elements, but Drinkbox has done a fantastic job at adding a level of transparency to what you’re actually playing. That’s right, they’re fooling you into solving puzzles!
The game itself is setup perfectly for a portable platform, with six zones available, each holding 4 main levels with an unlockable bonus level. Each zone has a different theme as well, from environments from Farms to a University and even to Space. I’ve found myself grabbing my Vita to play a level or two quite frequently, with the progression from one level to the next being really smooth. You can also go back to any completed level if you choose, to try and get a better score, which is tracked in an online leaderboard (with Friends List support of course.)
Also, keep your eyes peeled for some of your fallen brethren, since hidden in most levels will be one or two of your Blob brothers, and finding them will result in a bonus at the end of each level.
The visual style completely reminds me of the old-school Saturday morning cartoons, but using much cleaner and more complex art. Colors are vibrant, and motion is incredibly smooth. Some of the outdoor settings are beautifully complex, with some great humor placed strategically in the background. There’s not a lot in terms of animation most of the time, but what is present is wonderfully done. Screenshots do not do the visuals justice however because only when you see the game in motion do you realize the depth of everything on the screen.
The audio is minimalistic, but effective. Music is scarce, but that allows the environmental sounds to come through even more. This design makes explosions even more effective, as the blunt violence really fills your headphones and contrasts sharply with the subtle environments. The other sound element that comes through is when your Blob takes damage, which is merely a squeaky wince that meld perfectly with the expressions shown via the Blob’s eyes, which is the only way that any emotion is displayed from your character.
This game is single player only.
It’s tough to explain why this game is as great as it is. The levels are fun and varied, and the way that everything is laid-out is perfectly geared toward a portable platform, allowing you to play in smaller chunks with the ability to save often. The fact is, I can’t find anything to complain about with Mutant Blobs Attack. It’s a fantastic game with solid gameplay, smart puzzles, great visuals, and a perfect flow from level to level. The game fools you with cuteness, but there’s definitely a visceral aspect hidden deep inside. I can’t recommend this game enough, and at $7.99, there’s NO reason to not pick this one up.