Invasion of the Alien Blobs! Review
Posted by Philip J Reed
Houston, we have a bloblem
At this point it's unlikely that anybody with a DSi or 3DS is in need of an inexpensive time-waster, but Invasion of the Alien Blobs! is here to provide one more option. And while it's not exactly a great game, it certainly provides some mindless fun along the way.
The best thing about Invasion of the Alien Blobs! is its 1950s sci-fi title and conceit. Monstrous blobs have travelled en masse to Earth, where they intend to conquer the planet one landmark at a time. It's a fun idea, but it gets an unfortunately small amount of attention paid to it. There's a nice visual pay-off in the ending sequence, but apart from that the story is relegated entirely to the background, which seems like a bit of a missed opportunity for comic potential.
The game itself is controlled entirely with the stylus, and though there are two modes of play the only difference between them is that one prioritises speed and the other prioritises score.
There are 100 screens in the game — they are identical between modes — and your goal is to clear each of them of invading alien blobs. You do this by tapping them, which makes them pop. Some blobs are stronger than others and require multiple taps, some are larger and split into smaller blobs, and some of them are diseased and when they pop they'll cause any other blobs near them to become infected and multiply like crazy. Due mainly to this latter blob type, you can also slide blobs around with your stylus, isolating any adverse affects from the rest of the playing field.
When you clear a screen you move on to the next. In the time attack mode, that's all you have to do. You can take as long as you like the clear the blobs, but your ultimate goal is to finish all 100 screens as quickly as possible. In score attack, you have a strict time limit of 10 seconds per screen. If you fail you can try again, which is nice, and the deliberately stingy timer means you'll often have to puzzle out the fastest solution in order to advance.
However, this is part of the trouble, as the same screen can easily take you ten or more attempts, and there's no way to save your progress along the way. For that reason, Invasion of the Alien Blobs! feels like it's aiming to be a fast, pick-up-and-play experience, yet it requires you to stick around for the long haul. At any point you can quit the game, of course, but since your goal is to either rack up the points over 100 levels or speed run 100 levels, you really need to stay with it for a while. Lose interest or become otherwise occupied during level 92, and the next time you play you'll need to start off at level 1. That seems like a pretty bizarre oversight for a game with so many levels that need to be completed in one sitting.
Otherwise the game is good, but demonstrably shallow. There are two items you can pick up — such as food that explodes and a fireball that clears many blobs at once — but apart from that every level consists of tapping rapidly until the screen is clear. Even the bonus rounds in score attack are just more screens to tap through, and it gets repetitive fast. Perhaps several modes of 20 screens each would have allowed players to enjoy shorter, more concentrated bursts, as the enforced 100 level marathons really start to drag long before the midway point.
The controls are responsive enough for what they are. We certainly felt as though we were missing blobs pretty frequently, but when you're up against a 10 second timer you're bound to make mistakes. The visuals are nice but not particularly impressive, and the soundtrack is just sort of there, but there's certainly nothing to complain about in that regard.
Our issues come simply from the fact that it's far too shallow and repetitive. There are no endless modes or random modes to keep you coming back after you've cleared 100 levels, and the odds are good that you'll get tired of them during the single sitting that it takes to complete the game. Invasion of the Alien Blobs! sounds like a lot more fun than it really is, and that's unfortunate. Because it sure sounded like a lot of fun.
Invasion of the Alien Blobs! isn't a bad game, but it's pretty much the textbook example of a limited gaming experience. If tapping coloured circles is enough for you — as there's really nothing else here — then it may be a fun time-waster. But if you're looking for anything more than that — including the basic ability to resume your game where you left off — you're headed for disappointment.