PSN Review – Tales From Space: About A Blob
Tales From Space: About A Blob is a 2D platforming game where players take on the role of a blob who recently arrived on Earth, seemingly on a mission to absorb everything in sight. Is this blob full of fun for all, or does it deflate under the careful scrutiny of PlayStation LifeStyle?
Tales From Space: About A Blob opens with a cartoon styled scene depicting multiple blobs of various colors flying through space in a direct route to Earth (or an Earth-like planet). The people below spot the invasion from afar and fire missiles at the blobs, splitting them up and leaving one in particular to be captured and imprisoned by what appears to be a mad scientist. ‘Appears’ is a key word here, since the entirety of the story is depicted through these scenes with no dialogue of any kind, leaving it to the viewer to make their own interpretation of the character’s intentions, which are mostly displayed by facial expressions. It makes for a pretty thin plot, but blobs don’t really need much reason to absorb things and grow bigger, do they?
The meat of the game is in the platforming, puzzling, and collecting that occurs throughout the seventeen levels. It’s near impossible to play this game without immediately thinking of Katamari, since the core mechanic involves absorbing items in order to grow bigger. As the blob grows bigger, it may absorb even bigger items. However, that’s pretty much where the similarities between the two games end, since Tales From Space: About A Blob focuses more on getting from one end of the level to the other, rather than on free roaming a large area to become as big as possible. Growing as large as possible is still a goal here, but it mostly serves as a way of unlocking the next portion of the level. In fact, at later points of the game the absorption seems to take a back seat in favor of straight forward platforming sections, as well as puzzle sections of the game based on other abilities. Instead, solving these puzzles usually opens a path to new objects to absorb, which let you to get large enough to approach the next puzzle or challenge.
Most of the time things are very straight forward. Find your way to the end of the level while absorbing everything possible, as well as collecting blue orbs spread all over the place, and finding and saving your fellow missing blobs by absorbing them too. Shortly into the game firing objects is introduced, allowing for any object absorbed to be shot back out by aiming with the right analog stick. This is useful for taking out various enemies like rocket launchers, helicopters, and tanks that are trying to stop you. It also comes in handy for breaking objects apart to clear a path or make them smaller to absorb, as well as pushing out of reach switches.
Eventually the blob gains two other special abilities as well. One is the magnetism ability, which allows the blob to attract itself or repel from fixed metallic surfaces throughout the levels, which are highlighted with a purple glow. Once unlocked, this really opens up the platforming capabilities, as you’ll find yourself repelling high into the air to stick to a ceiling and reach new areas, or even firing yourself across large distances with careful aim. Small metallic objects can also be moved with this, allowing for some unique puzzles as well. The second special ability is an electrical one, allowing the blob to absorb electricity from generators, and then fill other mechanisms with it. This generally activates a lift, door, or rotational device, allowing passage into a new area. Large sections of the game focus on the use of these abilities, and they are well executed throughout most of it.
Tales From Space: About A Blob is very collectible oriented. Throughout every level there are blue collectible dots every where, often times placed in nearly out of reach areas that require precise jumps to grab. There are also three blob buddies hidden in every level too. Every level is timed for placement on leader boards. Upon collecting a blob buddy 20 seconds is reduced from the timer, and the blob’s health is refilled. Collecting enough of the small blue dots also reduces the timer by a second. Returning to previous levels won’t let you take any earned abilities with you, so any difficult to reach collectibles will remain that way. However, it will graciously show you what you’ve collected previously by graying them out on a second play through, making missed dots and blobs quite obvious. This is really the only difficult portion of the game, since many of the collectible dots are just placed in barely reachable places, making them more tedious to collect than fun. If you don’t plan on finding every thing, then you’ll probably find Tales From Space: About A Blob a very easy and quick venture.
Tales From Space: About A Blob also includes a local two player co-op mode. While I’m always glad to have co-op play, it doesn’t do anything special except allow another player to join you in the levels. In fact, it often times seems detrimental, since the camera won’t zoom out very far to keep both players on screen. As a result if you’re not careful to stick together one player is often off screen, with a ten second timer that kills them off. Luckily the game doesn’t punish you much for dying, and allows the second player to respawn after about five seconds. If both players die, they both respawn at the most recent checkpoint, and with infinite lives all it does is add to your level time. Despite this leniency, it still gets incredibly annoying at the more advanced platforming sections which involve launching yourself using the magnetic ability. The co-op mode also allows for a bit of competition, with a meter at the top of the screen which indicates who has collected more objects throughout a level. Sometimes player size becomes an issue while progressing, and one player may shoot out absorbed objects for the other player to grab and grow with in order to progress.
Overall, Tales From Space: About A Blob is a good game for kids, since its never very challenging or frustrating, and it makes for simple platforming fun. On a first run you’ll probably take your time to explore the game, making levels last about 20-30 minutes each. With 17 of them to goop through, a first run is about 4-6 hours. Subsequently you can go for speed runs on the leaderboard, and at 5-10 minutes a piece, a skilled player can beat this in under two hours. Unfortunately it’s still a short game unless you’re determined to collect everything, so it’s hard to recommend it at the steep price of $15. Either way it makes for a decent first outing from Drinkbox Studios. For more information about the game, as well as Drinkbox Studios, check out our interview with them from PSN 2011 Preview Week.
PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score
– Poor Camera in Co-op
+/- Very Easy Difficulty