For some reason, everyone loves collecting things that are smaller than they are. We're not so much interesting in gathering buildings as we are looking at them, but if buildings were pint-sized, you can bet they'd fill our pockets like lint-covered jellybeans. Tasty Planet: Back for Seconds from Dingo Games plays on this compulsion and puts you in control of a blob of gray goo that can eat anything smaller than it is. As you can guess, this is a dangerous thing to let loose on the Earth, but give it a time machine and all of the past and future could be in quite a pickle.
Like some human babies you might know, the protagonist in Tasty Planet will eat anything smaller than it is, gobbling up objects without pausing to chew. With each item nommed, the goo grows larger, allowing it to pick up even bigger items in its never-ending quest to keep eating. This all happens with a simple interface that uses either the mouse or [arrow] keys for movement. No jumping, no climbing, just moving and devouring.
Your size is constantly monitored at the top left corner of the screen. Once you reach a certain diameter, the camera bobs upward and gives you a wider view. A handy arrow points to the closest, largest object you can collect, and whenever an item is small enough to be eaten, you'll see a set of small icons surrounding it. It's extremely satisfying to fight with obstacles and run from enemies only to turn around and gobble them up a few moments later.
The time traveling mechanism allows for a nice variety of settings in Tasty Planet 2. There are six time periods to work through, each with its own unique things to eat, from the smallest piece of candy or scarab beetle to the largest dinosaur or satellite orbiting the Earth. You'll also find special stages that task you with escaping mazes or collecting a number of one kind of item. All of this takes place across 50 or so levels, some of which are unlocked as you play, and four different gameplay modes.
Analysis: It wouldn't be possible to discuss Tasty Planet: Back for Seconds without mentioning Katamari Damacy or The Wonderful End of the World. The game shares a similar "collect small things" design concept, but really its charm (and 2D point of view) are all its own. Comparing Back for Seconds to the original Tasty Planet, you'll find quicker, more dynamic gameplay with plenty of new things to call it a sequel. One great new feature of Tasty Planet: Back for Seconds is the inclusion of a two player cooperative mode. If you've got a friend nearby, sit down and collect things together.
The gameplay isn't very challenging, but to be honest, it's not supposed to be. You can select timed mode to give yourself a bit of incentive to move fast, but apart from that, your only real dangers are creatures larger than you that might give chase, knocking your size down a bit with each hit. Certain stages are more danger-filled than others, but for the most part, the only thing you have to worry about are finding more small objects so you can grow and eat bigger things.
Casual and extremely entertaining, Tasty Planet: Back for Seconds is filled with a lot of straight-up fun. It doesn't have to rely on crazy gimmicks when it stars a time-traveling piece of gray goo that can eat anything it comes in contact with!