Part of Sony’s push for the Playstation Vita is to expand its downloadable line-up with some cheaper fare, making it more competitive with the mobile phone platforms out there. Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack is an early highlight of that approach, being the least expensive launch title clocking in at just under the $10 price point. However, it is anything but the least fun game on the handheld, being a highly original platfomer that does some of the same tricks phone games do while still taking advantage of the buttons and analog sticks a dedicated gaming system provides.
As you’ve probably gathered from the title, Mutant Blobs Attack has you in the role of one of these mutant blobs, escaping from a college laboratory and absorbing everything in its path on its way to a rocket ship headed for the moon. Most of the story is spelled out in cutscenes with characters like TV reporters speaking gibberish, while the levels kind of follow the logical (illogical?) progression. It’s simplistic yet amusing, and kind of recalls the XBLA title ‘Splosion Man, though it’s not confined to one setting.
In a mechanic vaguely similar to the Katamari Damacy series, passing through sections of a level is ultimately dependent upon absorbing enough objects and people in order to become large enough to suck up a cork stopper blocking your path. This is aided by a number of abilities that are unlocked in classical fashion, level by level. Being a mutant blob has its perks as you can squeeze through crevasses, propel yourself through certain areas with a rocket ability, wall jump, and even magnetically attract or repel yourself from metal surfaces, which is very unique gameplay element that leads to some clever level design. It’s basically like being able to flip gravity on the fly using your shoulder buttons, albeit only between certain surfaces. On top of that there are sections of the game where you use the touch screen to manipulate the position of movable platforms. These usually involve physics puzzles that can either carry your blob where it needs to go, fling it across gaps, or do the same with the objects your blob needs to absorb to advance.
Bonus levels take advantage of the tilt functionality of the Vita and vary from more Katamari influenced stages to labyrinth style mazes. These levels were a bit more irritating unfortunately. First of all you need to have your Vita held parallel to the floor in order for them to work, which means getting up or sitting up if you’re playing in a relaxed position. Secondly, the labyrinths in particular are really unforgiving. There doesn’t appear to be any real physics involved, so you can’t dance along the edge of holes. Instead you just magically get sucked right into them as soon as a pixel touches one, which is supremely irritating when you’re trying to collect your little blobby buddies for extra points and unlocks.
The artwork is mostly typical for a mobile game of this calibre. It looks like a Flash game with the vector style graphics, but it certainly has personality that is normally lacking in this style, particularly in what’s going on in the background. College dorms are messy and have passed out students. Billboards spoofing various real world stores abound in the city, with a few inside jokes for gamers here and there. Once again 2D games like this with plenty of color shine on the OLED Vita screen. DrinkBox even included a retro look into one of its bonus levels with scanlines and it comes off great.
Mutant Blobs Attack has a pretty nondescript soundtrack. Again there are no voice actors in the cutscenes, only gibberish. The music kind of has that ‘Splosion Man vibe to it as well, adding to the atmosphere of a scientific experiment gone wrong. There was nothing particularly memorable nor annoying about the sound in this game, at least.
Ultimately, with a bit under 30 levels of moderate length and a host of collectibles and gold medals to replay the game for, Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack is a downloadable title worth the very modest price of admission. It’s also worth keeping on that precious little memory card space you probably have with what Sony is charging for it. DrinkBox has done well here by adapting their PS3 debut into very enjoyable Vita game, and I look forward to more innovative stuff from them.