There are days where you can play a game just to get through it. Then there are days where you can sit back and enjoy the ride. Then there are rare days where you're not only enjoying the ride along the way, but you're starving for more after everything is said and done.
This is Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack. Here's the skinny.
While this title has already shown up on the Vita, since February, it certainly didn't lose any charm on the way to Steam.
The gameplay for Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack starts with a lovable, vicious storyline. Our main blob sits and watches as scientist experiment on him and fellow blobs. He watches and waits until finally a chance is sprung and he escapes. His purpose is to not only escape the confines of the science area of a local university, but also eat everything in his path whilst avoiding lasers and other ways to perish. It's a storyline that is straight out of a 50's B movie.
The fascinating part of MBA is that it acts and feels like Namco's Katamari series, which isn't a bad thing. While the main focus of the game is to move and escape the levels, the secondary focus is to eat everything in your path. As your blob devours things, he/she (can't find the answer to that one) will grow bigger in scale. As the blob grows bigger, it allows for different paths to be open. For example, there are certain moments in the game where you can only get through an area by becoming a fat blob. Sometimes you have to become fat, which lends you more 'umph', to knock down a cork in a pipe. By knocking down that cork, it allows you to move forward in the level or to unlock second portions.
While the first go around of the game will most likely be just trying to get from point A to point B, the desire to go back and see what's hidden in each level will almost certainly warrant a second go around of the game. The levels are very expansive, as you'll find little nooks here and there that you may not have caught the first time around. DrinkBox Studios has set up the levels to allow for exploration, as you're not pushed to get through by the story, rather you're free to explore each and every one. Again, this allows for replay value of the game, which is vital for its survival in a big Steam market.
Speaking of levels, there are six areas that contain a total of 24 levels to work through. Each level brings a certain challenge to the gamer, as you'll cruise through university piping, houses, sewers and all other sorts of different scenarios. There's plenty to like about the levels, as they offer up some fun easter eggs and allow for the blob to fit in different areas, some you'll have to really be sharp to see. The level design in this game is pretty creative, as you'll have to cruise through 50s style animated areas that allow for your blob to test and explore different paths. Certainly the physics of the game are the most interesting point, but the levels are a close second. They're big, creative and hide a lot of fun things.
In between the levels, you'll also find bonus levels. The first you'll encounter is a labyrinth game (David Bowie not included). It's one of those tilting board games where you have to navigate a ball around a series of walls, which have holes in them to regretfully have the ball fall through. Instead of a ball, though you have the blob. It's quite fun, challenging and it adds another level of entertainment for the game.
So what will make a gamer go back and do better, aside from the easter eggs? The online leaderboard system that is intact, of course. I'm not a fan of leaderboards in general, as I think they're a copout for online play, but just like the leaderboard for the online version of Angry Birds, I like seeing where I rank with other people playing this game. It certainly motivated me to go back and replay some of the levels that I finally got use to playing in hopes of completing it faster, and completing it better. It creates excellent motivation and another notch in the 'replay' belt.
Is there any knock on this game? Well, in comparison to its Vita cousin, I really didn't care too much for the controls. I understand that PC gamers around the world will scoff at my idiocy, but I prefer a console controller for this one rather than a mouse and keyboard. Don't get me wrong, it felt fine for the first few levels, but as you gain more attributes for the blob, your hands are asked to do more. For example, there is a point where you gain the power of magnetism to help you stick to pipes and avoid lasers. You have to use the AWD keys to maneuver, while pressing the space bar or ENTER key to jump, while thinking about the shift keys. I'm good with my hands most of the time, but I'm not a pianist. That's a lot going on there there with my fingers, and I just couldn't get it done most of the time when multiple keys were being asked of me. Maybe that's my lack of experience with PC gaming (I do own a Macintosh, so it's not like we have a wide selection of games), but regardless it felt uncomfortable. I'm not going to subtract much from that complaint because I know PC gamers will certainly call my gaming skills 'blah' at best, but I needed less keys to think about. *
*It has just been brought to my attention that this game is compatible with the Xbox 360 controller, which would make complete sense. So, while I still stick by my review of the controls, there is a way out. Thank you, Brom, for bringing this to my attention.