Nukezilla Review: Tales From Space: Mutant Blobs Attack (PS Vita)
There is a certain group of people that didn’t buy a PlayStation Vita at launch, and those people are usually referred to as the population of the planet Earth. Thus many people, myself included, missed out on the bizarre, incredibly hit-or-miss period every platform goes through, more commonly called its launch window.
Games are hyped for months, only to release as buggy, half-finished messes, and strange, innovative ideas are green-lit by publishers desperate to have anything on store shelves for launch night.
But once in a while, something unexpectedly great comes of of this tumultuous period. Tales From Space: Mutant Blobs Attack is one of those games.
Mutant Blobs Attack is a physics-based platformer, with a bit of Katamari Damacy thrown in for good measure, about a space-blob that escapes from a lab, goes on a journey to recue its friends, and consume the entire planet in the process.
Through a series of a couple dozen levels and a smattering of dialog-free cutscenes, Mutant Blobs Attack tells the story of a blob out for revenge against, well, everything for imprisoning it and all its blob friends and conducting horrible experiments on them. The military tries to stop or destroy the blob, ut what fun would the game be if they pulled that off?
While the story is rudimentary at best, Mutant Blobs Attack manages to create a fun, light-hearted, but still slightly dark-comedic atmosphere. The backgrounds of levels are full of references to other games, movies, and internet memes. Some work better than others, but they’re trying to create a humorous tone in a game where a silent, gelatinous protagonist attempts to devour every living thing on earth. The fact that they did it without being too morbid is something of a success in and of itself.
Like any good platformer, it features a couple of collectable types: blue dots that really only affect the end of level score, and the afore mentioned blob friends. The other blobs, two per level, are often hidden away or behind some nasty trap, making them a bit tougher to collect. You are never held back for not collecting enough dots, or missing any of the blobs, but they bring a nice little challenge and some replayability to the game.
The two main mechanics besides basic platforming in the game are size and magnets.
Your blob will absorb office supplies, garbage, food or whatever else it comes across, increasing its size and allowing it to get over or through larger and larger obstacles. It’s very similar to the early part of Katamari Damacy stages, where you really aren’t worried about the final size of the ball, but more about how to get big enough to absorb whatever obstacle is keeping you holed up. It works well for Mutant Blobs Attack, and while your starting size adjusts from level to level for… story reasons, it does a good job of matching the feel of the level. Not that realism is the primary goal here, but it would feel a little weird sneaking around a lab, trying to escape unnoticed as a four foot tall, spike-covered blob. The later levels featuring the blob taking on the military and townsfolk running in terror are a real treat, and a fun way to wrap up the game.
There are also zero gravity segments where the blob can shoot a jet of fire out of… wherever blobs shoot jets of fire, in order to maneuver around. These sections still revolve around absorbing junk and avoiding lasers and other platformer-standard traps, but break up the pace a bit. A nice touch.
The other big mechanic I mentioned earlier centers around the blob’s magnetic abilities. Fairly early in the game it gains the abilities of an electromagnet of sorts, either drawing itself toward or repelling itself from certain metallic objects, which are always conveniently glowing purple. It works well and has you looking at all four edges of the level for how to get where you need to go, as opposed to simply jumping from ledge to ledge.
Mutant Blobs Attack doesn’t make extensive use of the Vita’s abilities in the main levels, but using the touch screen functionality to rotate and reposition certain platforms is a nice touch. There are also a handfull of motion control bonus levels, where the blob is controlled by tilting the Vita around from a top-down perspective. Overall, the developers at DrinkBox Studios found a nice balance, showing off some of the Vita’s features, without shoehorning in nontraditional controls simply for the sake of doing it.
Many launch titles feel rushed and awkward, but Tales From Space: Mutant Blobs Attack manages to feel comfortable in its own skin. Everything just… works. The developers knew exactly the game they wanted to make, and executed that plan exceptionally well.