Tales From Space: Mutant Blobs Attack
A mostly great charming platformer, currently exclusive to the Vita, and only $8. Nice.
Drinkbox Studios released their first Blob game about a year ago on the PS3 to overall good reception, but it needed some work. For the launch of the Vita, Drinkbox has released a great little (127MB) $8 title that continues the Tales From Space series but improves the gameplay significantly. An opening, humorous and well animated cutscene takes us inside of a university laboratory where humans are conducting experiments on blobs collected from outer space. One day, a scientist is attacked by a blob as he opens its cage doors and the blob manages to escape.
Gameplay starts here. There are six levels with about five stages each in locales including the campus, a town, military base, and a metropolis. This is a 2D platformer that requires players to navigate their blob through numerous obstacles, puzzles, and environmental hazards to reach the next area. As you platform your way around, you have to eat up a variety of different objects to increase your blob's size. It's kind of like Namco's Katamari series in that regard, only instead of pushing a ball around that gets larger, you just plop on or rollover a variety of objects from soda cans to humans, increasing your blobs size as needed to advance to the next area or stage.
Level design is fun and straight-forward. Lots of classic platforming mechanics and ideas are put to good use. There are propulsion/suction sequences that affect how your blob can move, moving platforms, wall-jumping, a rocket pack that allows you to fly freely, and puzzles. The puzzles aren't difficult, but some do require a brief amount of analysis. Many puzzles are solved with the blob's ability to use telekinesis. Players use front touch screen motions to use telekinesis, either to swipe or draw circles as to rotate a gear, for example.
The ability to use a rocket-pack and fly can be controlled with standard buttons or by pressing in on the rear touchpad. It's a nice mechanic that works fine and doesn't feel too gimmicky. On the other hand there are the labyrinth stages which use the gyroscopic sensor. The idea is that your blob must successfully navigate a fairly large board filled with instant-kill black holes. They aren't supposed to be black holes in the cosmic-sense, but they behave like it in as far as if you touch the edge of a circle in the slightest, you get pulled in and have to start over (or at least at a checkpoint). Motion gaming rarely works completely right, and that's my experience here, too. Being forced to use the tilt controls felt unnecessary and ultimately pretty aggravating.
Pretty much everything else about the Mutant Blob experience works really well though. The levels are fun and progressively challenging, the old sci-fi theme and humor are great, and I like that players are given infinite lives and are not up against a clock. There is a single online component to Mutant Blobs, the Leaderboards. If you're worried about your position on the Leaderboards, then you will want to rush through the stages as quickly as possible, trying to find all of the edible objects (and the two hidden collectible blobs). Most of the rest of the game allows you to play at your own pace, although there are some neat sequences where an environmental danger is practically chasing you, requiring you to platform hastily.
A significant reason why I like Mutant Blobs Attack is just in its simplicity. Other than my struggles with the motion-only labyrinth stages, Mutant Blobs is just a well-designed and well-executed platformer that looks and plays great on the Vita.