DrinkBox Studios’ Tales From Space: Mutant Blobs Attack!!! may not be the best PlayStation Vita launch title for showcasing everything that Sony’s new portable gaming device can do, but it’s without question the one that I’ve had the most fun playing so far. It’s also the cheapest offering in the hefty lineup, a $7.99 PSN-only download that won’t take up too much space on your rapidly filling memory card.
In other words: if you’re a Vita early adopter, you really ought to just step up and buy this game.
At its core, Mutant Blobs is a side-scrolling platformer with a Saturday morning cartoon-y visual appeal. The game is a little bit Katamari Damacy and a little bit LocoRoco. You play as a pissed off alien blob from outer space with angry purple eyes and an insatiable appetite for… well… everything. If you’re larger than an object, you can absorb it. The more you absorb, the bigger you get. This is both a gameplay mechanic, for accessing different parts of each level, and a story mechanic, as you create increasing amounts of chaos with your blobby wanderings.
The story starts out in a research lab; our playable anti-heroic blob, fed up with being treated like a test subject, decides it’s time to escape and exact some sweet, delicious vengeance on his human captors. The story unfolds over six themed stages — College, Town, Moon, Badlands, Army Base and Metropolis — with three or more levels plus a bonus “tilt-a-blob” level for each stage.
Mutant Blobs‘ greatest strength is its sense of variety. Each environment you visit isn’t just a texture swap where you perform the same old actions in an entirely new place. It’s more iterative than that. You’ll be doing those same old things, but new ideas are added at a fairly constant rate to build on what you already know.
It’s simply jumping and rolling (and rocketing around, during specific sections) at first. Eventually you’ll encounter objects that you can move by tapping and/or dragging them on the Vita’s touchscreen. Or magnetically charged objects that you can adhere your blob to or push him away from. Or enemies that shoot at you in some form or another.
The framework is the same for every level — solving puzzles opens up access to objects you can absorb, which makes your blob grow larger and allows him to access new locations — but the tools you’ll use to solve the various puzzles are ever-changing and always being added on top of one another. By the time you reach the final stage, the world has gone absolutely haywire thanks to your efforts. And the last level… I’m not going to spoil it, but it’s one for the books. After completing puzzle after puzzle, it’s a welcome and extremely just reward for your continuing Earth-invading efforts.
The tilt-a-blob levels are similarly rewarding treats that you get roughly two-thirds of the way through each stage. The look changes for each one, but the play is largely the same. You hold your Vita flat and tilt it forward/backward and left/right to move your blob around, avoiding enemies and pitfalls while, of course, absorbing anything that isn’t nailed down.
For every one of the game’s levels, both regular ones and tilt-a-blob, there are high score markers to hit for medals and bonus blobs — “friends,” the game calls them — to collect (ie absorb). It frankly doesn’t amount to a ton of replay value, but the actual game is so much fun to play that it doesn’t really matter. You can blow through Mutant Blobs in three or four hours, tops, but you could easily put twice that into collecting everything and snagging a top-ranked leaderboard position if you’re so inclined.
When you really get right down to it, Mutant Blobs Attack is close to perfect. It’s all sorts of fun to play, it constantly builds on itself to present you with fresh puzzles from beginning to end, it’s charmingly evil, it’s got an infectiously awesome soundtrack, and it controls really well no matter which aspect of the Vita you’re interacting with. It’s also as cheap as cheap can get among the launch titles. It’s not a system seller, but it is the best reason to own a Vita right now.
Score: 9.5 out of 10
(This game was reviewed on the PlayStation Vita on a copy provided by Drinkbox Studios)