"Tales of Gluttony"
Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack is one of those rare games that does practically everything right.
The game opens in a science lab, where mutant blobs are held captive and forced to take part in cruel and painful experiments. One blob has had enough, and stages a daring escape by managing to make his way out of his cell, opening the cages of his fellow blobs, and slipping into a visiting studentís backpack.
If this sounds like the beginning of a monster movie, thereís a good reason for that. Mutant Blobs Attack is an obvious sendup of a number of old monster movies. Of course, itís not particularly scary, partially because youíre the monster and partially because the game oozes humour like its protagonist oozes through floor vents. The game certainly knows its roots, with references to dozens of other indie games popping up within the stages. Billboards for things like the Dryad, a clothes dryer with a logo suspiciously similar to that of recent PSN release ďDyad,Ē or Souperbrothers Presents: Sweet & Swour Swoup, a name with more awkwardly-placed wís than Sword & Sworcery, are everywhere.
Mutant Blobs Attack plays like a combination of LocoRoco and Katamari Damacy. At the beginning of the game, your blob character is tiny and non-threatening. You quickly learn that you can grow by eating things that are smaller than yourself. At first, itís a struggle to consume anything larger than a dime, but that soon changes. By devouring things and absorbing them, you can grow larger and gain the ability to eat bigger things. Youíll soon grow large enough to swallow plastic beer cups, then apples, soccer balls, chairs, and even people. And thatís just in the first set of levels.
As you grow in size, the number of ways you can interact with your environments also grows. Things that seemed like insurmountable obstacles before eventually just become food. Helicopters and tanks that you have to avoid earlier in a level are no match for your ever-growing gullet later in the stage.
The blobís insatiable appetite isnít his only tool. Under certain circumstances, he can fly. He also has his own private magnetic field he can use to pull himself toward or repel from metal objects (or those same objects can be pulled to or pushed from the blob, in the event that they arenít nailed down). The blob is also telekinetic, meaning he can move certain objects with its mind. All of these abilities feel perfectly natural. The controls are tight and just feel right. This is one of those games that wonít teach you that you can wall jump. Youíll just know the moment you hit a wall in mid-air.
All of those abilities eventually allow you to solve a variety of puzzles, such as when you must move an object to block gusts of wind that would otherwise cause your slimy form to be impaled by a bed of spikes, or when you flatten against a wall in a narrow tunnel to avoid taking damage from a trap on the opposite wall. Puzzles are usually fun and creative, though theyíre also pretty simple. Youíll likely only have to actually stop and think about a puzzle once or twice throughout the adventure. You wonít feel much of a sense of accomplishment for solving such puzzles, but at least they donít get in the way of repeat playthroughs.
Mutant Blobs Attackís graphics are simple but pleasing to the eye. They somehow manage to simultaneously look both clean (with sharp edges and textures evocative of a 50s or 60s cartoon) and dirty, with a filthy tube TV screen vignette and lots of brown environments that harken back to those classic monster movies. The outside of the blobís body spins when he moves, but the inside remains stationary, and that effect manages to look perfectly natural. You can see the last few things the blob ate floating around inside of its body, which is also a great touch. The game looks really nice in HD, and it sounds even better. Aural effects (especially when eating things) are satisfying, and the music is fantastic. Itís upbeat and totally infectious, with an energetic 50s vibe. There were times I missed out on earning bonus points after completing levels simply because I spent too long sitting around and listening to the music.
So whatís new in the PC version of the game? Well, not much. Itís basically identical to the Vita version. The touch screen controls are replaced with the mouse pointer, and the one or two puzzles that required multi-touch have been slightly tweaked to compensate. The top-down view bonus stages are played with the analog stick or WASD buttons, as opposed the motion controls in the Vita version, meaning theyíre much easier but also less interesting. The new version supports controller rumble, and the ability to jump with a mouse button means you can move your blob, manipulate objects on screen, and jump all at the same time, giving an unnecessary but welcome bit of extra control over the action. The most noticeable change is that the PC version somehow contains references to even more indie games than the Vita version did. Iím not sure how Awesomenuts taste, but Iíll bet they have the greatest theme song ever.
Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack is one of the best games on Vita, and a welcome addition to any Steam library. It features a perfect storm of charm, gameplay, and aesthetic that make Mutant Blobs Attack a game no platformer fan should pass up. Do yourself a favour and check it out.
Staff review by Rhody Tobin (August 24, 2012)
Rhody likes to press the keys on his keyboard. Sometimes the resulting letters form strings of words that kind of make sense when you think about them for a moment. Most times they're just random gibberish that should be ignored. Ball-peen wobble glurk.
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