After a four year wait, Tasty Planet returns for more planet-gobbling action
If Tasty Planet really is “back for seconds” it must be starving. After all, the first course of 2D eat ’em up action was served up almost four years ago. Sure enough, the sentient grey blob is back and hungrier than ever.
Given the sizeable gap between courses, perhaps an appetizer is in order. Tasty Planet was, for all intents and purposes, a 2D Katamari Damacy. Like Namco Bandai’s crazy ball-rolling game, the idea was to guide your googly-eyed blob around its environment and oversee its growth through eating everything in sight.
While the first game started you off at a microscopic level, Back for Seconds ups the scale from the off. You start off the size of a small coin, gobbling up the bits of candy left carelessly on a lab table by your creator’s gormless assistant. From there it’s onwards and upwards, as you feast on microscopes, lab rats and – ultimately – a time machine left sat in the corner.
This sparks a time-spanning adventure taking in dinosaurs, Egyptians, Romans and more. Indeed, this reflects the sequel’s upping of the ante over the first game, and the assured way developer Dingo Games handles the rapid escalation of scale.
Unlike the first game’s rather linear growth curve, which saw your blob growing within the confines of its immediate environment, Back for Seconds frequently sees you expanding seamlessly into a whole new world. You might be growing steadily on a diet of grubs and bugs, only to suddenly take an evolutionary leap to a point where you’re eating dinosaurs and rocks. The view zooms back to reflect your new status and perspective, and your role switches from being a big fish in a small pond in an instant.
Dingo plays on this reversal of fortunes nicely with the enemy AI. While you can feast on anything smaller than you, there are many more things bigger than and hostile towards you. Some creatures will actively hunt you down, requiring all your dexterity (you can steer with either the mouse or arrow keys this time) to avoid them. Soon, though, you can turn the tables, and there’s nothing more satisfying than gobbling up the very creature that just chased you the length of the level.
This eat-to-grow gameplay can become a little stale, but Dingo Games does pretty well at keeping you on your toes with special levels. These can take the form of collection quests, where you must seek out a set number of a specific object. There are also maze-like levels, where your aimless wandering is replaced by a need to grow in order to escape the confines of your makeshift prison.
Still, the action remains pretty constant throughout. After you’ve cleared the first world, you might only be able to face up to the game in short bursts, as the pace is relentlessly and surprisingly intense.
The occasional between-level comic strips return from the first game, and there’s the same joyfully silly tone to it all as our blob unwittingly plays havoc with history. While the graphics don’t appear to have made the most of the series’s four year hiatus, they are a definite improvement, with greater detail and some pleasing real-time scaling effects. The music, too, is much improved.
Tasty Planet: Back for Seconds uses many of the same ingredients as the first game and tastes similar as a result. However, it’s a significantly expanded experience, offering more of everything – just like a main course should, really. I look forward to seeing what Dingo Games has planned for dessert, but hopefully we won’t have to wait another four years to be served.