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Tasty Planet: Back for Seconds (PC) artwork

Tasty Planet: Back for Seconds (PC) review

"There’s a cleverness in the level design that helps extend the game’s brief lifespan."

Sci-fi has a small laundry list of get-out-of-jail-free-cards they can endlessly recycle to provide quick and easy explanations for whatever crazy plot device they’re currently trying to sell you. Anti-matter and tachyon particles and reversing polarity all list pretty highly, but the modern day favourite is nanotechnology. Want to advance some soft-sci-fi shenanigans? The nanos did it! Those pesky microscopic robots; they’re the cause -- and solution -- for anything that ever happened in Star Trek: Voyager.

Tasty Planet: Back for Seconds may as well be the revenge tale for their shoddy treatment.

The game itself is the story about a little blob of nanotechnology that exists only to assimilate anything small enough for it to absorb. Early levels see it devouring small chocolates before overwhelming the lab it was devised in, and chewing up lab rats, scientific equipment and the odd pet cat. You guide the blob around with the arrow keys or the mouse and it slides around happily, causing mayhem and panicking the scientists responsible for its construction. Each item it digests makes it bigger and bigger, allowing it to move up to more sizeable snacks. As such, the game follows a set pattern. Eat little stuff: evolve. Eat bigger stuff: evolve. Eat huge stuff: evolve.

This could lead to a repetitive cycle. No, actually, this does lead to a repetitive cycle; there’s no getting away from that, but the process is saved by a lot of clever level design. Not content to hang around in a sterile lab all day, the blob obtains the means to travel to different time periods and eat large chunks of them instead. The Jurassic age has him start out munching on small rocks and trying to avoid the attention of bigger predators that can, in turn, take bites out of him. Revenge is never too far away: with a glutinous attitude, the blob will soon grow.

While some stages are open plan settings that allow you free roam, getting to a bigger size will allow the camera to pull back, revealing more of the level and larger objects to devour. It means, in one sitting, you can go from eating M&Ms to giant computers, from eating ants and grasshoppers to volcanoes, and dewdrops to galaxies. Some, though, offer set objectives. You could find yourself trapped in a boneyard maze, having to nibble away at the smaller bones and open up new passageways in an attempt to evolve enough to get rid of the bigger obstacles. Other stages dump you in the middle of a cattle stampede, where you’ll have to avoid rampaging bovines while trying to eat the debris they trample underfoot or defend siege weapons from attacking Romans. You have ulterior motives, though; you just want to eat enough soldiers until you’re big enough to snack on the weapons you protect.

There’s a cleverness in the level design that helps extend the game’s brief lifespan, given a further boost by a few differing game modes and a medal system awarded to players who complete stages in a quick time. Without becoming too abstract and critical, if the simplest question possible was asked of me -- did I enjoy my time with Tasty Planet: Back for Seconds -- the simple answer would be yes.

EmP's avatar
Staff review by Gary Hartley (October 24, 2010)

Gary Hartley arbitrarily arrives, leaves a review for a game no one has heard of, then retreats to his 17th century castle in rural England to feed whatever lives in the moat and complain about you.

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