Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack is a cheap puzzle-platformer available exclusively on the PlayStation Vita's download service. While it's not anything that's truly revolutionary, it's short, and fun, and it does what it needs to with a certain charm makes it an irresistible addition to your library.
As the story goes, we are pretty cruel creatures to our non-human friends and it seems that none get abused more than the titular blobs who are tortured in a series of horrifying experiments. Once they escape from their cold, sterilized confines, you help them set out on a quest to save all their blobby companions and get revenge on the humans responsible and everyone who even remotely looks like them! Turns out, that's pretty much everyone. Like Katamari Damacy, you play as a tiny little ball and your objective is to absorb everything you can with the intention of growing large enough to absorb the cork that holds you back from your next objective. It starts off simple enough, with you sucking down bits of garbage and candy to sustain yourself, but as the game progresses you grow to collect larger items until the point that the military has to intervene, and you need to use your size and all your available abilities if you want to survive. Personally, I felt pretty bad about all the hapless bystanders who are sucked into your mass, unable to defend themselves against your corrosive body.
But the absorption/digestion mechanic isn't the only ability you have at your disposal; you have all sorts of interesting physical properties, most notable of which is the ability to magnetize yourself to cling to or repel from purple-hued metal. Not surprisingly, the magnetism mechanic lends itself to some pretty creative physics puzzles that I found to be a very pleasant balance of challenge and originality. Of course, you can also jump, slam, and hover, but the primary gameplay mechanic is to use the magnetic objects to climb, fly, jump, and scale to new heights in a never-ending quest to absorb more objects! Not only is your blob working on traversing the puzzle-platforming world, but you, the player, are also going to be helping it out by using the Vita's touch screen to move items, activate switches, and help with some of the more complex puzzles. I liked this feature in theory, but I found that the touch controls were a little sluggish and it meant that besting the puzzles in the later levels were as much about fighting the technology as figuring out the solution.
There are 24 main levels in total, with an additional 4 optional bonus stages. Each of the main levels has two hidden blob friends that you're tasked with finding, and many of these require intuition and a skill for problem solving to find. Any good platformer needs to give the more experienced players something to strive for beyond just completing the level, and Mutant Blobs Attack gives you precisely what you'd expect. As per tradition, there are not only the hidden blob friends to find, but a load of bubbles to collect that give you points. Along with the points you get for absorbing things, this gives the game an excuse to have an online leaderboard for each level. Your time and score both factor in and you can achieve either a silver or gold medal depending on how well you do. There are also four bonus levels that use the Vita's motion sensor to roll your blob around an obstacle course. I'm not saying that this wasn't fun, but of the 5 games I've played on the Vita, 4 of them have included a gameplay mechanic like this and I'm already getting bored of it. We get that the vita has a gyroscope, let's get back to making games and not tech demos.
Mutant Blobs Attack is definitely fun, and for the most part the game looks and sounds good. The visuals are clear and cute, the art direction is pitch perfect, and the humor is in some cases a genuine laugh-out-loud achievement, but there is one problem: the soundtrack is composed of great comedic sci-fi themes, but I didn't really get to enjoy it because my audio glitched early on and the soundtrack froze, resulting in a droning buzz that only corrected itself when I restarted the game or put it into sleep mode. So far as I can tell from researching online, I'm the only one who has had this problem, but I haven't had this issue with any other of my Vita games so I'm not sure what to make of it.
That said, I can't help but adore any game made by developers that seem to have their finger on the pulse of the internet; if this is any indication then I have to say Drinkbox is certainly in tune with said pop culture. Hailing from Toronto, Ontario (down the street from my hometown), Drinkbox has managed to make a game that's not only fun to play, but a great homage to the values of modern youth with such quotes as the double rainbow reference used in my tagline, the legitimacy of the existence of cake, and even one brief event clearly meant to emulate Angry Birds. Of course, few of these jokes are shoved in your face, instead you have to pay close attention to the billboards and 'advertisements' in the world's background to catch most of them. This attention to comedic detail had virtually no bearing on gameplay at all, but that didn't stop me from taking a moment to appreciate it every time I caught one of these shout-outs seemingly aimed directly at me.
Tales From Space: Mutant Blobs Attack isn't long, and even moderate players could likely beat it, find all of the hidden blobs, and get a gold medal in each level in a matter of hours, but when you factor in the mere $8 price tag, that makes it a pleasant, bite-sized addition to your library. If you have a Vita, I recommend Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack; it's a load of fun, it's cheap, and it's hilarious to boot. Definitely worth your time and money.
This review is based on a digital copy of Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack for the PlayStation Vita.