Tales From Space: Mutant Blobs Attack is a clever puzzle-platformer that oozes personality, now using the Xbox 360 and playstation 3 controllers. The spiky yellow blob you control can slither through the smallest cracks in one instant, and jump over huge distances and up walls the next, giving you more moves to master than the typical run-and-jump game.
Controlling the blob through early puzzles with joysticks instead of the Vita’s touch controls is simple. Even as it quickly gets the abilities to repel or stick to magnetized objects and fly through the air in low-gravity sections, things never get too complicated. Rather, as you progress, it becomes a test of coordination: using the blob’s different powers to solve puzzles and move around areas, dodging lasers or moving platforms around, often using them to punt the blob around as if it were a pinball. Silly personality shines through when the blob is slammed and smacked against the environment, and great moments come frequently as it scoots around, narrowly sprinting by spike traps and up through sections while trying to outrun death lasers.
My favorite aspect of blob gameplay is its ability to ingest random objects to grow into a monstrous ooze of doom. In the vein of Katamari Damacy, the blob can only pass through certain areas of each stage if it’s large enough. As your blob rolls around, eating up everything from coins, cups, nails, peanuts, bullets, all the way to people and eventually planes and tanks, it grows in size, regaining some health and earning points for each object it slurps up. Even though you don’t need to eat everything, I got a kick out of rolling up all the screaming people as they tried to run away from my amazing, humungous blob monster, and then watching them flailing around inside the blob once it ate them up.
Levels in each of the six varied worlds are designed with a 1950s-inspired look and are filled with references to indie games, like Drinkbox’s own Guacamelee!, and other nods like Phil’s Fish restaurant or a billboard ad for Awesomenuts, in the style of a certain 2D MOBA’s logo.
The 24 levels are all pretty short, each only taking about five to 10 minutes to complete. Even though your blob only has a few abilities with which to get through each stage, the puzzles don’t often rely on the same tricks twice. But with such a limited number of stages, the good ideas never get the chance to fully develop into puzzle mechanics that you have to work too hard to solve. There’s a quirky surprise and something unexpectedly funny all the way through them to the very end, but a little more challenge or complexity would have been welcome and made Mutant Blobs feel a little less superficial.
Most puzzles are a mix of finding enough items to increase the size of your blob, and platforming across perils to do it. None are especially difficult to figure out, and the checkpoints are quite forgiving. Each level has two optional hidden blobs to find as well, adding a nice extra challenge and some replay value. With the addition of leaderboard support, there’s even more reason to go back and find your blob buddies.
Aside from the main levels in each zone, there are top-down mini-stages that try to take advantage of the motion sensor in your controller on PS3, but that’s kind of a disaster. In a few of them you guide your blob around like a marble on a Labyrinth-inspired board, trying not to fall in any holes. I found them particularly frustrating to control on PS3, taking a dozen or so tries to get through the levels on PS3 that I could beat on my first try on the 360, where you can just use the thumbsticks.
However, I liked the other type of mini-levels, where you’ve simply got to roll the blob into as many items as possible. These bonus stages weren’t too punishing and I genuinely enjoyed finding all the items and growing my blob to freakish proportions.
With its creative level designs and simple controls, Tales From Space: Mutant Blobs Attack is the type of game where you can sit back and enjoy eating up everything on Earth without investing too much time, cash, or energy to do it. It may not have changed much since its initial release, and a few more levels would have been nice, but for those who missed it the first time around, there’s good reason to slurp up this jiggly gem now.
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