The main character in the $8 Tales From Space: Mutant Blobs Attack, a spiky green blob with one perpetually grumpy eye, is one of my favorite new characters in a video game. And he never utters a word. I don’t even know if he’s a he. He seems like one. Maybe the spiky patina around him could be beard stubble. I couldn’t see a female blob looking that disheveled. In any case, Blob is a, um, blob of action. Of many actions! He can absorb anything, he can grow, he can ground pound like Super Mario and even telepathically control platforms to launch himself or other things in the air and to solve simple physics puzzles. He’s multi-talented, a big grump and he’s striking out against a world that wronged him. He’s a hero. The hero the PlayStation Vita deserves. Or, uh, the villain I guess, since he eats … everything. Really.
And it’s so satisfying.
From Drinkbox Studios, this downloadable 2D platformer-slash-puzzler shows us that, sometimes, clean level design and the gradual introduction and creative use of fun abilities is all you need to make a great game. By the end of the first world — there are six worlds and 24 stages, plus bonus stages — you’ll know all of Blob’s abilities. As the game continues, levels and puzzles get more complicated and you’ll discover new ways to use moves like the ground pound and magnetism. Yes, Blob can stick to and repel from metal, too. All these moves come into play for the game’s numerous physics-based puzzles. If a pile of food is stuck on a tall ledge, chances are you’ll need to find some way to make gravity work in your favor. And Blob will need that food! He’s got to grow and eat and eat and grow some more. He must feed.
To help feed Mr. Blob, you use nearly all of the Vita’s capabilities. For Blob’s telekinesis, you swipe a finger or two on the screen to manipulate platforms. This move becomes invaluable in later levels, almost to a frustrating degree. You’ll need to move Blob with the analog stick or D-pad and manipulate the touch screen at the same time in some cases. That could be problematic for impatient players, with fingers in the way of what’s going on on the screen. But the levels and puzzles are so well-designed, I had no problem juggling the various inputs. The back panel’s used as well, though its function (boosting during flight — yes, flight) is also mapped to the L and R shoulder buttons, so you can choose what’s more comfortable. Bonus levels use the Vita’s gyroscope, which can be a bit disorienting unless you sit up straight and hold the Vita perpendicular to the ground. It’s a bit like Super Monkey Ball or those old-fashioned wooden labyrinth toys nobody plays with anymore. Don’t worry though, Mutant Blobs Attack is something everybody should play. With.
But yes, it all works well, and for a short (and cheap!) game, it doesn’t feel like anything’s missing or like anything should be added. Levels typically last a meaty five to ten minutes, perfect for portable play, and with online leaderboards, personal times to beat, and two hidden blob friends to collect per stage, there’s plenty of incentive to replay. Oh, yeah, and there are trophies. Can’t forget those.
Mutant Blobs Attack won’t win awards for high-tech graphics, but who needs ‘em? The cartoony art and 2D visuals should charm the pants off anybody. Just look at that blob. What a simple, effective design. Everything you need to know about him, and the game, is right there in his gloopy, amorphous form and that grumpy, sleep-deprived eye.
If there’s one mark against Mutant Blobs Attack, it’s the repetitious music. It has an old 50s sci-fi/horror vibe, but there’s hardly any variety in the soundtrack and it gets annoying after a while. I lowered the volume as the game went on because it was just the same thing over and over. If this game had a rocking, catchy soundtrack it would be a perfect 10 for sure. You know, if we used scores. Instead it’s highly recommended.
Tales From Space: Mutant Blobs Attack is the spiky, surly, genocidal son of Katamari Damacy and Rampage. It eats, grows to an enormous size and destroys the world — and shows off what the Vita can do without fancy 3D graphics or multiplayer modes. Just rock solid game design, great control and a heaping helping of grumpy charm. And it’s only 8 bucks. What are you waiting for? You can download it right now.