PAX Prime 2010: Tales from Space: About a Blob
Parked immediately inside the flood gates of PAX Prime’s show floor was a game I had heard about a few months ago and unfortunately forgot about during that time span. Taking my first walk around the show floor I was ecstatic to rediscover Tales from Space: About a Blob, a colorful, silly sidescrolling puzzle game inspired by classic sci-fi films.
With fellow writer Josh Kramer in tow, we watched a pair of attendees glide – is that the right word for blob traversal? – and jump through one of the demo’s two stages. Being a blob, they were able to absorb any object in the world that was smaller than them, much like Namco favorite Katamari Damacy. The notable difference between this game and Katamari – other than it being a sidescrolling platformer – is your ability to use absorbed objects in ways other than simply growing your blob. Objects can be spit out and used as either projectiles to deal damage or trigger dangerously located buttons. Items can also be transferred between blobs to give one player the mass necessary for certain puzzles.
After the players had finished up, Josh and I asked Ryan MacLean, of developer Drinkbox, to set us up with the alternate and apparently much more difficult level; we were both fairly confident we had the basic gist after watching the previous players. The first thing I can say is piloting the blob has an appropriately fluid and weighty feel, as blobs begin to glide once they’ve picked up a little speed and have a genuine feeling of momentum, which has to be taken into account during some of the tricky platforming segments.
In addition to the core mechanic of item absorption, the blobs can jump and do a sort of airborne blob stomp, which I put to use in reducing any cow I saw into a pile of messy organs. As my blob was still on the smallish size, blob stomping cows was a necessary means to absorb the bovine – think chewing your food. Ryan also alerted us to our ability to change our blobs into a pair of gooey magnets, which allowed us to either emit magnetic energy to attract ourselves to certain objects or repel ourselves. Obviously this mechanic was put to use in several platforming sections throughout the stage, as we’d use the pull to get onto a metallic platform and the repel to shoot ourselves to the next, but the most clever use was found later on as the metallic pull could be used to manipulate objects in the level that were unreachable in any other manner.
As Ryan had warned us, the level was much more difficult than the previous was. Josh and I found ourselves in some tricky radioactive barrel segments, plus there was a constant barrage of rocket ships trying to bomb us into oblivion. It seemed like I was dying a lot more than Josh was, apparently his synergy with his gelatinous avatar had been smoother than my own. By the time we had gotten – by my estimates – halfway through the level we had already played for quite some time, getting lost in the quirky sci-fi hijinks. Sadly, at that point we had to return the controllers with a few parting words and be on our way.
About a Blob turned out to be exactly what I was hoping for as its gameplay seemed to be quite fluid, like the characters themselves. Some puzzles could have certainly been solved in different manners and the whole experience was just plain old fun to mess around with. Combined with the offbeat humor and setting of the title, About a Blob is one of my most anticipated titles coming to the PlayStation Network, and one I won’t soon re-forget.