Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack

Mutant Blobs Attack is another one of those cutesy platformer games that features a (usually) unlikely character in a (usually) absurd situation: here, you're a mutant blob from space, and your goal is basically to eat everything. Mutant Blobs Attack is notable for being one of the first well-received games for the Vita; the last game (About a Blob) was exclusive to the PlayStation 3.

This game does not concern itself with a plot, disguising dialogue (say, from a news program) in a semi-guttural speech usually reserved for adults in Charlie Brown, and the progression of stages – from a college campus, to a town, to the moon, and back – makes very little sense, even in the context of the game. But, really, those stages are just means to an end as the puzzles are the main attraction in this type of game.

Thankfully, the graphics have scaled up really nicely from the Vita version: the levels themselves are crisp and sharp and colors are appropriately vibrant when necessary. (Most of the background is deliberately washed out for artistic effect.) Even the soundtrack is catchy and cute, sounding like something ripped from a 50s sci-fi film. If there's a problem with Mutant Blobs Attack (and, unfortunately, there is), it isn't that the game looks or sounds ugly, because it doesn't.

No, the problem with Mutant Blobs is that the game is ten percent puzzle-solving, thirty percent enjoyable, and sixty percent frustrating. The platforming elements, for the most part, are easy: it's just crawling around, wall jumping, and using powers and abilities to traverse the environment. The frustration, however, comes from the arbitrary and judicious use of moving lasers that force you to rush. These segments make levels arbitrarily difficult. It isn't even necessarily challenging, per se: it's simply difficult because of how inaccurate and, frankly, unenjoyable the game's controls controls are.

And these awfully inexact controls are by far the biggest problem that plagues Mutant Blobs Attack. For example, take green bars: these pieces can be moved along a track using the right thumbstick. When you try to be gentle and nudge the thumbstick for precise aiming, the block doesn't move at all; you go to nudge it a little bit more in the same direction, however, and the piece goes flying way past where you intended to place it. There are numerous segments in which excruciating precision is necessary to pass the puzzle: yet the game's controls just do not allow for it.

When you're close to one of those moveable objects, you'll automatically "connect" to it. You can switch to controlling other green, movable objects by hitting the left or right bumper buttons. Unfortunately, this is another area in which practicality was overlooked in the developer's attempt to port from a touchscreen to a controller: sometimes, "switching" brings you to the same object you were already controlling. At best, that would be a minor nuisance, but, again, precision and timing are often required by the puzzles.

It's a shame, really: what could have been a cute, well-crafted platformer for home consoles ended up being a poorly-made port of a (much better) Vita game. Even though it looks good and the story is likeably bizarre, DrinkBox simply did not plan Mutant Blobs Attack around the limitations of a controller.

I don't think I ever won a single fight in Soulcalibur II. Thankfully, I'm marginally better at reviewing than I am at fighting games.