Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack Review
The Vita was launched with a good-sized lineup of titles, but surprisingly some of the most fun that I've had with the new system so far has been thanks to the little downloadable gem Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack. It oozes charm with its graphics, humor, and amorphous protagonist that gobbles up everything that gets in its way (even people), and backs it up with solid puzzle-platformer gameplay that makes great use of some of the Vita's special features.
You play as the mutant blob in the game's title, and your goal is to escape from the lab in which you're imprisoned and make your way to freedom while extracting a little revenge on the way. Actually, you break out of the lab pretty early in the game and spend the rest of the game on the revenge part, and a blob takes revenge by eating everything in sight. Well, eating my not be an entirely accurate description, absorbing is probably more like it. Just roll over something and it will pass through your semi-permeable membrane and then float around your gelatinous innards. As you absorb objects you grow in size, making it possible to absorb even larger objects. The game has fun with your ever-increasing mass and as you reach the end of a zone you'll be gobbling up the same buildings that you had to jump and roll your way over earlier. As you reach the end of the game you'll be gobbling up skyscrapers like they were french fries, and your size will reach stellar proportions in the game's final level, which has got to be one of the most entertaining final levels I've played in some time. Growing your blob is important for more than just its humor value, though. The sections in a level are connected by pipes, but each pipe is plugged with a cork. Before you can move on you've got to grow large enough to eat the cork blocking your progress.
While you'll occasionally encounter an enemy in the form of attack choppers or tanks the military sends to stop your rampage, most of the dangers that you face will come in the form of traps that include lasers, spikes, and flames. Getting past these will sometimes require your platform gaming skills. You have the ability to jump, of course, as well as perform wall jumps and power slams - the latter of which can be done at an angle as well as straight down and can also be used to control the direction of your descent during a long fall. You also have the ability to magnetize yourself, which allows you to stick to metal objects or push yourself away from them. At certain times you'll be given the ability to fly, using the left stick and X button to thrust and control your direction with the trigger buttons giving you a turbo boost when needed.
You'll have to draw upon your puzzle-solving skills almost as often as you do your platform skills. These puzzles will require you to make use of the blob's ability to control machinery. You can use the touch screen to shift platforms and lifts or to switch machines back and forth between forward and reverse modes. With these few simple tools the game creates a surprising variety of puzzles and each one will be a new challenge.
There are plenty of challenging spots in the game, both in the platform and puzzle sections, and you'll probably send your blob to its death more times than you can count. However, the game is never difficult in a cheap or artificial way. There's a bit of trial and error involved in getting through the game, but a little persistence will get you through it and there will always be a certain feeling of satisfaction as you overcome each new trial.
In addition to the game's regular levels you'll unlock a few optional bonus levels along the way. These levels make use of the Vita's tilt detection feature exclusively. The blob is essentially in freefall and you use the orientation of the Vita to change the direction of the pull of gravity. These levels are a little tricky and will have you spinning your Vita back and forth and upside down as you tie your arms into knots, but they make for a fun change of pace from the other levels.
The game's replay value will depend on whether or not you're the type of gamer who will replay levels for a better score or higher leaderboard rank. Your score in each level is based on how much you manage to gobble up in the level, and there are always some hard to reach or find items tucked away in the levels that you'll need to look for if you want to maximize your score. Also hidden away in each level are two of your fellow blobs awaiting rescue. Rescuing these blobs first require that you find them, but the real trick will be reaching them ... and don't be too surprised if they are protected by an additional series of traps or another puzzle. Even if replaying levels isn't your thing, Tales from Space is such a blast to play you'll have plenty of fun during your one and only playthrough.
Final Rating: 92%. A one-eyed blob is the unlikely star of the Vita's launch lineup.