Tasty Planet

One of the most fun experiences I’ve had on a video game console in recent years is the hit PlayStation 2 game Katamari Damacy, in which you roll ever-larger balls of material and attract more and more stuff to them—the game equivalent to creating a ball of rubber cement. Casual game maker PlayFirst has tapped into this phenomenon with a relatively recent Mac release called Tasty Planet.

In Tasty Planet, you are a sentient grey glob of experimental bathroom cleaner that’s run amuck. You’ve been created to chomp up germs and bacteria, but you have a voracious—nay, insatiable—appetite, and the more you eat, the larger you get. The goal is to get so large that eventually you become an eater of worlds.

You start out on the microscopic level, eating up bits of dirt and other objects that are small enough for you to eat. With each progressive level—60 in all—you find yourself getting larger and larger, eating unicellular organisms like paramecia, then eating small insects, working your way up to the detritus that rests upon a picnic table, eventually making your way to rolling down the street, eating cars and everything else that get in your way.

You have to be careful to not let your eyes get bigger than your stomach, however—larger objects that you can’t immediately digest will harm you, so you need to keep your distance from many edible things and creatures until your diameter has increased a bit.

The game features nine different locations to explore, starting out in the laboratory, getting flushed out into the ocean, then ending up in a park, roaming around a city, up into the sky, then in orbit around the Earth and finally out amongst the stars.

Faster, Glob, Faster Tasty Planet’s normal mode has you racing against the clock to grow a certain size before moving on the the next level.

On top of that, PlayFirst has incorporated three different modes of play. The normal mode requires you to grow to a certain size within a time limit. The casual mode eschews any sort of time limit, and makes the enemies a bit less difficult to deal with. Endurance tests your skills with long levels, instead. Some of the levels in normal mode are maddeningly difficult—it seems almost impossible to get past the level unless you hit every object just at the right time.

Tasty Planet offers a few neat capabilities, such as the ability to track the progress of different players, and a “gallery” that displays all the objects you’ve consumed and offers you question marks to indicate items you haven’t already grabbed.

Options are simple but effective—the game lets you modify the speed of the “grey goo” you find yourself controlling, and adjusting sound effect and music volume (separately). A check box also lets you activate and deactivate a “full screen” mode that resets your Mac’s resolution to the native resolution of the Tasty Planet game. Otherwise, it will run in a window.

If you meet certain objects, you will automatically unlock “cheats” that you can activate through a special cheats window. If you beat casual mode, for example, you unlock different visual effects, such as “wide eyes,” “small eyes,” “big eyes” and “cyclops.” Getting all bronze medals will unlock “Super Fast,” and beating endurance mode activates “Gravity Well.”

The game has a fun, cartoon-drawn style and a peppy, upbeat lounge-like soundtrack that’s sure to appeal to you if you have a lighthearted sense of humor.

A free Mac download of the game is available—otherwise, it costs a scant $20, so it’s well worth trying out and seeing if you like the game. And it’s a Universal Binary, of course. I’m glad the demo is available—the online version is not playable on the Mac.

The bottom line

Whimsical and fun, Tasty Planet offers an entertaining twist on the Katamari Damacy style of game.

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