Tales From Space: Mutant Blobs Attack (PS Vita) Preview
At a recent preview event in San Francisco, I got the chance to meet with a handful of the folks at Drinkbox Studios, the developers behind the PlayStation 3 title Tales From Space: About a Blob and got my hands-on their new title for the PlayStation Vita, Tales From Space: Mutant Blobs Attack. The one thing that Graham Smith, the COO at Drinkbox, wanted to assure me of, was that this is not a direct sequel to About a Blob, but “a follow-up”. It’s a stand-alone title that shares mechanics (which are more thoroughly refined in the Vita title) that will be instantly familiar to fans of the first game.
For those of you who are new to the series, Mutant Blobs Attack puts you in control of a genetically modified blob monster who wants to take his revenge on the society by consuming and destroying anything in his way. The game itself takes place on a 2D plane in a highly exaggerated, cartoonish depiction of our society. The main conceit of the game is that the blob can absorb objects (anything from thumbtacks to cars can be consumed) in the level in order to reach new platforms to further traverse the levels, much like in a game like Katamari Damacy. However, the blob has quite a few other tricks up his (hypothetical) sleeve.
The blob can perform a ground smash by jumping and pressing the square button, which is extremely helpful in defeating enemies or activating specific switches. The blob also has the ability to magnetically attract to and repel from certain metal objects in the level, which is key to navigating some sections in levels. There are also certain checkpoints in the game where the blob will find itself suspended in zero gravity, and it is at this point where the blob controls like a rocket, complete with a turbo boost which can be activated though the face buttons or with the use of the rear touchpad on the back of the Vita.
Some of the more interesting puzzles utilize the front touchscreen on the Vita. The player can manipulate certain objects in each level in order to progress to the next checkpoint. Some puzzles involve the player just maneuvering a platform closer to the blob for easier access, while some might have you flipping gates or turning fans in order to release objects that were unreachable previously. These are really novel ways to utilize the Vita’s touchscreen without feeling completely forced or unnecessary.
There are a multitude of trinkets and hidden blobs that can be found in secret pathways throughout the level, which can help add to one’s score which is tallied up at the end of each level. Your highest scores are uploaded to an online scoreboard, allowing you to compare your run times and final scores with players around the world. The two-player co-op mode found in About a Blob was dropped this time around, but Mutant Blobs Attack features new bonus levels which utilize the Vita’s gyroscope, allowing you tilt the system in order to maneuver the blob through new areas.
Bonus levels each have different graphical styles, much like this one, complete with faux-Game Boy era graphic filters.
I think what makes Mutant Blobs Attack stand out in the marketplace is its style. The art is exaggerated and cartoonish, but very sharp and looks great on the Vita’s screen. The cutscenes are all very humorous, told mostly through pantomimes and gibberish voice acting. The composed songs for the game are excellent. The same composer from About a Blob returns for this game, offering some remixed tunes as well as new compositions that fit the “Danny Elfman/Surf Monster Movie” theme that Drinkbox was going for. There are even small in-jokes displayed in the background of levels- I found an advertisement for the “Numa Numa Dance Academy” while traversing through a city landscape, for example. It’s always a pleasure to find a game that has a sense of humor about itself and the genre.
Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack will be available on the PlayStation Network on February 21st for the low, low price of $7.99. From what I grasped from my playtime, it’s a very sharp, funny and well-made platformer that is definitely worth a look, even if you missed out on About a Blob a year ago.