Date: 02-27-2011 18:30
Author: Jesse Dietderich

PDC profile: Jesse

I have been conditioned to care about the weak helpless aliens that land on our planet ever since E.T. appeared on the silver screen. Tales from Space: About a Blob may begin with sympathy for the poor little blob, but it ends in a spectacular celebratory conclusion.

There is No Boy Helping this Blob

Oddly enough, there have been quite a few video games with a blob-like character venturing forth. Tales from Space: About a Blob sets itself apart from the rest because you are in complete control of your blob in this 2D platformer. It also boasts local two player co-op, a very nice art style, and a terrific sense of humor. Unlike some games where they utilize different art or animation styles for their cut-scenes and menus, the stalwart developers remained consistent with the unique style used throughout this title. It gave the game a very polished feel. I didn't have anyone to play co-op with when going through the game but I did try out the game with two blobs on a few stages where it looked as if there would be a benefit of playing with multiple blobs. I was very right in that there are some timing puzzles and very intricate sections that work much better when you have a blob buddy to help you get through the stages. The humor can be witty at times and fairly vulgar as well. One such example would be a billboard of a police officer grilling some meat on a couple outdoor grills advertising a TV show. The witty and slightly vulgar humor here is that it is spoofing a very disturbing internet meme by titling the TV Show "Two Grills, One Cop." And then there is the less disgusting restaurant "Duck in the Box," which references Justin Timberlake's advice of what sort of gift to get your girl during the holidays. Over all this game had some great people behind it making it very fun to play.

He's an Aaaaaallllliiiieeeennnnnn!
You might think blobs can come from anywhere, but the ones in this story are from space. There really isn't anything important about that, except that a scientist has captured the little bugger and wants to do unspeakable things to learn more about him. I gained control of him while in the scientist's lab and I had my blob gobble up anything he could as I navigated through the maze of puzzles and hazards. As he absorbs things into his gelatinous body, he becomes larger and is able to consume even larger objects. The items collected are also very important because they can be used as projectile weapons where R2 is used to shoot them out, while aiming is handled by the right analog. After taking out some enemies with a few screws and a thumb tack, the L2 button can be pressed to magically absorb all the expelled items back inside the blob. I also started out with an ability to stomp my blob downward with force using the button. This became very important because as the blob contacts the ground he/she/it gains some upwards energy and if timed right, will propel the blob with a super springy jump. This was actually the hardest mechanic of the game to master and still feels unforgiving at times. As I proceeded to more difficult stages, there were two additional abilities that my sack of jelly obtained; magnetism and electrical charge. The former allowed me to attract (L1) and repel (R1) from metal objects throughout the stage, while the latter allowed me to absorb (L1) electrical charge and transfer (R1) it to other objects in order to power them. These definitely needed some getting use to and there are even some pretty tricky puzzles that required me to switch back and forth between the two abilities by using the button. I felt that the four main areas that contained the 17 stages was very adequate in terms of game length. There are many things to collect throughout each stage and with speed run goals, there are plenty of things that kept me coming back to play the game more, instead of finishing this review. The last stage in each area had me combating a unique boss where my reflexes were put to the test.

Eww, Its All Sticky
As much as I have enjoyed this game, there are a few displeasures I experienced that need to be expressed. There was possibly two parts of the game that required multiple tries and felt as if they were too difficult for one person to undertake by themselves. One area had me being chased over a lengthy stretch of obstacles and I found myself dying repeatedly, while the other required precise timing and accuracy to solve a physics puzzle. On the upside, load times are short and with frequent check points, the amount of the stage needed to be replayed is kept to a minimum. In both of these areas, I could have benefited from a partner sitting next to me, manning a second blob. This brings me to the issue of having no online multiplayer, while I can see where it would have slowed down the studio from getting this game out the door, it would have been tremendously helpful through the entire game that I would have gladly waited for them to have included it as a feature. And finally, I hate to bring up the "super jump" again, but I really need to stress that without a second player some of the collectibles are impossible to get without having a mastery of this advanced technique. To pull off this move I needed to press to jump, then to stomp downwards, and then time it perfectly with another press of the button. Even after a great deal of practice it still is difficult to pull off, and I have had to stop playing a few times to give my thumbs a rest.

Slime Me Silly
There were a few other things that made Tales from Space: About a Blob a very decent game. The sound effects and soundtrack were both top notch. I also found the lack of any spoken dialog and hardly any written dialog refreshing because it allowed it to be a story told completely through the animated cut-scenes. From start to finish, this game held my attention and I always wanted to get to the end. There is something about growing the blob larger and larger till you can start absorbing things that were impassible objects just a few stages prior. Anyone looking for an excellent platformer should check out this game. There is a demo available so there isn't any excuse to not give this game a chance.

The development team at Drinkbox Studios is responsible for Tales from Space: About a Blob. The title can be found exclusively on the PlayStation Network. It has been released to the North American and European PlayStation Store for $14.99 and 9.99/12.99 respectively. I played for probably near 15 hours before putting the controller down long enough to write this review. Every stage got played multiple times and I still have more that I'll be going back to accomplish.


8/10
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