When the Vita launched, many complained that the lack of games was hurting the console. Quietly released via PSN on day 1, however, Tales From Space: Mutant Bobs Attack proved that you don’t need to produce a blockbuster title to show off what you can do on a new platform. A sequel to an impressive but flawed PS3 predecessor, Mutant Blobs Attack has clearly been designed with every aspect of the Vita in mind, without forgetting that games can’t just run like glorified tech demos, they also have to be fun.
Taking control of an initially diminutive blob, your job is to absorb everything in site to grow bigger and eventually consume the entire world. You’re essentially a living Katamari, with a few extra tricks up your sleeve (or you would if you had arms…).
Gobbling your way through around 30 levels, you get larger and larger as you progress. You start off relatively weak and puny – litter in a lab provides your first meal until, eventually, you’re devouring tanks, people and buildings with joyful abandon. The challenge comes in navigating the 2D levels. Mutant Blobs Attack’s simple start hides a surprisingly challenging and devious puzzle/platformer. After a few introductory levels, you’re dodging, diving and wall-jumping across increasingly hostile environments (no one is going to take kindly to the fact that you’re chowing down on their cities).
The Vita’s front and rear touch controls also come into play. Certain on-screen elements such as moving platforms and rotating rooms can be manipulated with some careful consideration for the multi-touch controls while the rear panel provides an easy way to access things like a speed boost during airborne segments. The gyroscope even gets some time in the spotlight with Tilt-A-Blob bonus levels found in each world that require steady hands and more than a little patience. These can get a little fiddly when the game seems to fight back by throwing in some questionable physics when it comes to the holes you have to avoid but these levels aren’t repeated so much as to become a chore.
In addition to solid mechanics and well thought-out controls, Mutant Blobs Attack oozes charm from its slimy bulk. The cartoon art style is colourful and sharp and really makes the most of the Vita’s much lauded OLED screen. The music also conjures up a level of whimsical nostalgia, referencing 50s B-Movie tropes and ensuring at least one Theremin-performer still has a job.
The experience certainly isn’t short-lived either. The levels all contain multiple challenges based on time, score as well as hidden items to add to your collection. Online leaderboards make up for the lack of multiplayer by allowing friends to compete for the highest score and fight to stay at the top. Taking inspiration from twitch-platformers like Super Meat Boy, dying is no major big deal as well and you respawn quick enough to laugh and move on.
As PSN downloadable title, Tales From Space: Mutant Blobs Attack is one of the cheapest titles available on the Vita, making it an essential purchase for anyone who has picked up the console and finds themselves already wondering which game to go for next.
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