“Grey goo” is one of the more scientifically pleasing apocalyptic scenarios. A rough interpretation depicts gray goo as a collection of vaguely sentient nanomachines reproducing without restraint and crippling the world’s ecosystems. A one-eyed blob absorbing everything in its path, up to and including the entire planet, presents another curious depiction. The former is the thesis of Tales From Space: Mutant Blobs Attack, and it performs its mission not under the harrowing death rattle of humanity, but alongside the playful nature of a gleeful creature with an insatiable and literal appetite for the material world.
If Mutant Blobs Attack sounds familiar, you may remember it as one of the few reasonable titles available during the PlayStation Vita’s 2012 launch. It also released on PC later that year. Steven McGehee and Nathan Stevens, respectively, handled those particular reviews, and here we are again with a PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 digital release. Time may not be on this game’s side – especially a year after DrinkBox’s breakout title, Guacamelee! – but its concept is essentially timeless; Mutant Blobs Attack is a slick platformer with a penchant for Katamari Damacy and firm resolve to keep the player’s mind and fingers in constant motion.
At its most basic, Mutant Blobs Attack is a 2D platformer with six unique worlds and around thirty levels. Level progression demands your titular blob expands to a size large enough to absorb a pesky, path-blocking cork. The only way to do this, in traditional monster movie fashion, is to eat absolutely everything in sight. The blob isn’t a killing machine without regard for basic rules, which is where the game’s Katamari influence pipes in; you start off eating smaller objects and grow in size before making your way up to bigger and better objects. Oil drums, garbage, tanks, helicopters, bacon, people – whatever – if it’s in comparable size, its fuel for your blob. All of it is typically obstructed by a platforming challenge or two, making Mutant Blobs Attack a delightful hybrid of two otherwise separate genres.
A suite of mechanics quickly arrives to compliment the blob’s basic running and jumping. Most pressing is the blob’s magnetic tendencies, allowing it to either attract or repel surfaces with a purple glow. Combining the repelling action with the jump move is particularly satisfying, and the instances where both repel and attract need to be used in succession make for a decent challenge. Zero-gravity challenges also arrive with relative frequency. These allow the blob a full 360 degrees of motion, along with a blazing boost-move for making it through tightly closing spaces.
There’s also a neat mechanic where the blob can telepathically manipulate green colored platforms. On the Vita this was handled with considerable precision with the device’s touchscreen. On the DualShock 3, this responsibility is assigned to the right analog stick and a shoulder button to switch between multiple inputs. With multiple on-screen platforms and fluctuating definitions of which way is up, there’s plenty of potential to be lost in translation. The good news is that Mutant Blobs Attack rarely demands a frustrating level or precision, instead allowing the player to get by with a base understanding of the puzzle. Through a touchscreen or a (relatively) more clunky controller, most of Mutant Blobs Attack feels appropriately forgiving.
Tilt controls present another welcomed juxtaposition. Confined to a few top-down areas between proper levels, these sequences either pit the blob rolling around a game board filled with holes, or under the guise of a 90’s handheld monster masher. The rolling-hole dodger is something we’ve all played on our phones at this point, but the opportunity for hilarious destruction in the other game-type was welcomed with open arms. There’s a slight bit of game to it, absorbing bigger and better set pieces, but for the most part you just get to roll around and become an incredible menace to society. Tilt controls functioned well with the SIXAXIS/DualShock 3, even if they did give me troubling flashbacks to PlayStation 3’s launch-era software.
Mutant Blobs Attack‘s best asset may be its relentless charm. The idea of a monster ruining existence is inherently violent, especially as it rips through a college campus, a military base, or a wacky detour through a space installation. Mutant Blobs Attack, rather than following a model like Cloverfield or Pacific Rim, opts instead for a tone similar to Attack of the Killer Tomatoes or This is the End. DrinkBox boasts this house-style with a penchant for goofy billboards, adorable animated people, and a sentiment for subtle and overt humor. There was one specific instance where my blob wasn’t large enough to eat this cow. On accident, I knocked the cow into a laser pit and watched it explode into hamburgers which, of course, were then small enough to eat. That sort of humor is Mutant Blobs Attack’s specialty, and it’s in great supply.
I wouldn’t exactly label Mutant Blobs Attack as an easy game, but it’s not going to throw much at players with a few modern 2D platformers under their belt. The intended challenge arrives from figuring out how to absorb every available object, leaving the myriad of laser grids, relentless pursuit of military aircraft, quickly-closing walls, and devilish pinwheels feel more like obstacles than challenges. I was able to breeze through the whole game in around five hours, which isn’t bad considering I rarely had to repeat content. If nothing else, Mutant Blobs Attack moves along at an appreciable clip.
Eight dollars is a fair price. You’ve certainly seen it cheaper on PC, but a game of Mutant Blobs Attack’s stature usually commands something over ten dollars on consoles. Unfortunately it’s not retroactively cross-buy on the PlayStation platform, meaning if you already own the Vita version of Mutant Blobs Attack you’ll need to play a $4 fee to own it on PS3 as well. The deal is sweetened slightly in that a bundled package comes with the soundtrack and a few themes, but, honestly, Mutant Blobs Attack isn’t exactly the type of game you’d expect to be playing back-and-forth between console and handheld.