Noshing On Nourishing Nerds

Tales From Space: Mutant Blobs Attack strikes the Vita. Nom nom nom.
Author: Aram Lecis
Published: March 4, 2012
It feels like it was just the other day we were talking with Drinkbox about their upcoming game Tales From Space: About A Blob and feeling a bit underwhelmed. And by that logic, I guess it feels like this morning when we felt a lot better about playing the final PSN version. So you'd think coming so soon on the heels of all that we would't be able to muster much excitement for the "sequel" Tales From Space: Mutant Blobs Attack out now on the Vita.


I put quotes around that "sequel", because while the game looks a lot like its predecessor, the story seems to supersede the existence of the original game (I think? Maybe I am remembering that wrong…) or it is set in an alternate universe. Those that played the first game will recognize the blending of Gish and Katamari Damacy that is the core of the game, although I found more platforming and less absorbing seemed to be the order of the day this time around. Drinkbox didn't skimp on using Vita features, as the rear touchpad is used for boosting in the new flying sections, and the tilt controls are put to excellent use in the bonus levels that are based on that Labyrinth game with the tilting maze in a wooden box with a marble. These controls work well and don't feel forced in (although I did bump the power button a lot when flipping the Vita around).

For those of you that never experienced the first game, the series puts you in the role of the eponymous blob who's come to Earth to wreak havoc on everyone by absorbing them. Actually, at the start you're pretty small and you just absorb erasers and beakers and household objects, but as the games 24 levels unfold you'll get bigger and bigger until your are absorbing on a cosmic scale. When you aren't absorbing stuff, you'll be leaping over platforms and doing some light puzzle solving generally involving magnets, spikes and lasers. None of it is too earth shattering complex and the game can be finished in a few sittings (maybe 5 hours tops).

That's not terrible for the $8 entry fee, but there is reason to go back. You can shoot for gold medals (based on score, which you rack up by absorbing objects and collecting the scores of blue dots that litter the levels) or finding all your blob friends who are scattered in the levels (often in very out of the way places and requiring you to be large enough to absorb them). There is no real multiplayer to speak of beyond the obligatory leaderboards, although those are good enough for some of the more cutthroat competitive types out there.

The place where Mutant Blobs Attack really shines is the art direction. Back is the super-cool retro 50's vibe that infuses the game. The playfield is framed in those curved edges reminiscent of old wooden cabinet televisions, and the art-deco palette and aesthetic that permeate the cutscenes reek of nostalgia. This dovetails nicely with the early sci-fi horror theme the Drinkbox guys were shooting for, and while all the dialogue is in LEGO/Charlie Brown adult gibberish, you can still feel the naive shock of the news reporters coming across in that classic pulp style.

It all look sharp as could be on the gorgeous Vita screen of course, and the sickly Mountain Dew-colored blob pops off the screen when he leaps and cavorts. During some of the bonus stages the game experiments with wacky color profiles that at first had me worried about my Vita but grew charming as the idea coalesced that they were representative of electronic devices of the era. Not to be tied to the last millennium, they were able to squeeze in an Angry Birds homage just for kicks.

Sound was great too, with a suitably cheesy soundtrack and charming grunts and noises taking the place of real spoken dialogue. Mutant Blobs Attack is a great example of a game that takes a lot of disparate ideas, tosses them into a baked Alaska and what comes out of the oven is a delicious blend that hits all the right notes and isn't quite like anything you've had before. If you've got a Vita and you burned out on all the retail launch games already, give this game a shot since not only is it the cheapest thing you'll get on your Vita, it packs as much fun in it as a lot of the big boys do.
The Verdict
9.0

A great refinement to the first game and great at using the Vita features without being an impediment or feeling forced, Mutant Blobs Attack is the best value on the Vita right now, and a must-buy for most owners.

8.5Graphics:

Sure, they are really simple and small, but the models and textures fit the motif perfectly with an almost hand drawn feel and heavenly hues that do their best to put the Vita screen through its paces.

9.0Sound:

Great campy film score mixed with muddled voices for audio work just right in this game and add to the already abundant charm oozing from every pore of this game.

9.0Control:

The standard controls work fine on the Vita, which is saying something after how difficult even the most basic things controlled on the PSP. Occasionally rotating the Vita 180 or 360 degrees would cause me to lower the volume or put the Vita to sleep.

9.0Gameplay:

Fun without ever being frustrating. Not too challenging without being too simple. Drinkbox found a good formula and the game flies by. Just enough collectables to make a second run not out of the question and short enough to seem worth it.