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Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack

Score: 85%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: DrinkBox Studios
Developer: DrinkBox Studios
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action/ Platformer (2D)/ Puzzle

Graphics & Sound:

Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack is the evil little brother of LocoRoco and Katamari Damacy, but despite its comically sinister overtones, it still makes room for a ton of visual charm. The game is absolutely full of color, and it makes wonderful use of the PS Vita's gorgeous OLED screen. The blob might have only one specific personifying feature (a single eye locked in a perpetual scowl), but it's more expressive than some fully-rendered three dimensional character models. There are tons of little details that really help give Mutant Blobs Attack a real sense of identity. Look at the screenshots. They are burned out and smudged around the edges, just like old-fashioned television screens. Some of the bonus stages sport a retro look, and some even come with nods to previous handhelds. There's visual humor everywhere in this game, but most of it is strongly based in nerd culture. If you're into that kind of stuff, you'll absolutely love it; billboards often present sly twists on well-known internet memes, and even the original stuff is worthy of a chuckle or two.

The visuals in Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack don't ever wear out their welcome, but the sound comes awfully close. None of it is inappropriate for the subject matter -- far from it, in fact. No, the problem here is that there isn't enough original music. Too much of it is repeated, and by the time you reach the end of the game, you will be quite sick of it. Sound effects aren't quirky on the same level of Katamari Damacy, but then again, what game is? The screams of terror that come from the mouths of the soon-to-be-devoured are somewhere between genuine and sarcastic, which is just about right.


Gameplay:

Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack is kind of a misnomer. Sure, there are several blobs in the game, but only one of them really does any attacking. Naturally, that blob is the one you control. This blob has a chip on its shoulder, due to all the experiments inflicted on it at the Humane Blob Torture Research Center. A careless scientist gets complacent, however, and the pile of goo makes its escape by stowing away in the backpack of a college student.

From there, you (as the blob) are on the path to revenge. However, once the game begins, you're no larger than the size of a human fist. You must eat to grow, but you can only consume items (and living things) that are smaller than you. So you will roll, squish, and fly around twenty-nine levels of platforming and puzzle-solving. As you grow, the sense of scale becomes more palpable; you'll start off struggling to fit into the drain of a dormitory sink, but by the end... well, let's just say it's a predictable but no less cathartic finale.


Difficulty:

Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack isn't a terribly challenging game, but there are challenging moments. Most of these moments are puzzle sequences that make specific use of one of the Vita's special functions. Sometimes you'll have to do something on the touch screen while simultaneously moving the blob, and sometimes you'll have to make use of the Vita's tilt sensors. Lots of these sections feature a nice eureka moment once you figure out how to manipulate the physics properly.

The most challenging parts of Mutant Blobs Attack are the parts in which you are faced with the prospect of consuming special items. By that, I mean hidden blob friends. These little guys are sometimes a bit out of the way, but players with good eyes should be able to spot them all the first time through. Perceptive gamers should be able to figure out how to reach them on a second pass. Some of these puzzles allow you to take your time, but others only give you a single shot before you have to start the level over.


Game Mechanics:

Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack starts out simply enough, only testing your abilities in moving left and right as well as up and down. However, as you grow, you will gain new abilities. These abilities aren't secondary to the gameplay, however; you will need to master each and every one of these in order to reach the end of the game. At one point, you will earn the ability to fly like a rocket in certain areas. At another, you will learn to manipulate objects via touchscreen inputs. Yet another cool trick allows the blob to magnetize itself; it can attract to or repel from special objects that glow purple. It's pretty obvious that the folks at DrinkBox Studios wanted to make a game that takes advantage of the Vita's special features. They didn't go all the way (for example, there is no rear touchscreen or camera use), but they did as much as they could without making the gameplay feel too contrived. For that, they are to be commended.

Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack is a quality launch title set at a great price ($7.99). You probably won't return to it once you've finished it, but your memories of it will be fond enough to the point where you won't regret the cost.


-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

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