I’m not the first to say this – and to be honest, I was CERTAIN that I would disagree – but Tales From Space: Mutant Blobs Attack!!! (Blobs from here on in) may well be the best of PlayStation Vita’s stellar launch line-up… And it’s a PSN title, priced at just AU$11.95.
The premise is simple: you play a spiky yellow blob who, after a life of being prodded and poked and experimented on, escapes his scientist captors and takes his revenge upon the world. As the blob, your goal is to jump about each stage consuming everything you can in order to grow large enough to eat the obstacle blocking your way from the next level. Oh – and there are some blobby friends to rescue along the way.
Comparisons to the Katamari Damacy series are valid; however, Blobs manages to differentiate itself by implementing some different gameplay mechanics. Firstly, it’s a straightforward 2D platformer as opposed to a 3D “roll-’em-up” – you simply jump from platform to platform “absorbing” items you touch. Secondly, you aren’t inundated with objects that you can digest – each level contains just enough to get you to the size you need to be.
There isn’t really much more to the game, to be honest. Later on you can use a magnetism skill to attract or repel yourself from purple-glowing metal objects, and there are some objects that need to be manipulated by use of the touchscreen, but at its most basic, this is a simple platformer – and a well-made one at that.
Controls are spot-on, and the physics of the blob itself have been tweaked to make the game feel just that little bit more FRUSTRATING – it has a tendency to bounce when it comes into contact with an object and roll slightly when you land. While these may seem like criticisms, they are really what makes the game so damned fun – a great platformer SHOULD be slighty frustrating.
Levels are short and not overly taxing, but for the most part, they are extremely satisfying. Within every environment (there are six overall, including the “College” and “Town”), there are about 5 levels – one of which is a top-down labyrinth-style game, which is controlled using the Vita’s gyroscope. They do break up the monotony somewhat, but tend to be less enjoyable than the platform levels.
From a design perspective, the game is just gorgeous. It feels like a tacky 50’s sci-fi, and it has the same kind of humour to go along with it – and the last level is just a scream. Further, it’s one of those titles that doesn’t shy away from the fact that it is just a game – the edges of the screen fade away to resemble an old-fashioned CRT TV, and there’s even one level that’s made to look like it’s being played out on a Game Boy… or something similar.
But all of that said, it’s not perfect. Levels feel sparse – as I mentioned earlier, levels don’t contain much more than what you need to get by, and most of it is within reach. In some ways you just feel like you’re just doing the motions in order to get to the next level. However, it still manages to be fun, and is a great example of excellent game mechanics. Further, there are times when you need to go from button presses to touch screen controls in quick succession, and this causes a great deal of unnecessary frustration – it’s only rare (two or three times in the whole game), but it’s noticeably annoying. And as a final complaint – it’s short. It’ll take only 3 or 4 hours to get through all of the levels, and I have to admit I was a little surprised that there was nothing to unlock… It’s just the main game, and that’s it.
But you know what? That’s all it needs. Simply based on how much I enjoyed those four hours, Blobs was well worth the $12 asking price. In fact, I would have paid more, it was THAT fun to play. Beyond that – it looks great, and it’s the first game in a long while that I really want to complete in its entirety (this means getting a gold star on every level and collecting all of my little friends). Considering I’m a compulsive non-completionist, that’s saying a lot. Best launch game? Perhaps not – but it’s pretty close.