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Platform

Xbox

 

Genre

Platformer

 

Publisher

Microsoft

 

Developer

Artoon

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

Q4 2004

 

 

- Fixes the original game's camera and targeting issues
- Visuals are still as good as the first game
- Larger levels
- Improved item collection and implementation of time controls

 

 

- Without Xbox Live support, multiplayer addition is a waste
- Should have just improved on the original's instead of practically starting
from scratch
- Without one main character, game has zero personality
- Relies on too much generic platform game conventions
- Story is too uninteresting to make you want to play to find out what
happens next

 

 

Review: Blinx: The Time Sweeper (Xbox)

Review: Super Mario Sunshine (Gamecube)

Review: Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Wii)

 

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Blinx 2: Masters of Time and Space

Score: 6.5 /10

 

blinx-2-1.jpg (29131 bytes)         blinx-2-2.jpg (24060 bytes)

 

I actually enjoyed the original Xbox-exclusive Blinx. Sure, it had a few technical problems and didn't live up to the hype that came along with the new "fourth-dimensional" gameplay, but it wasn't a half-bad platformer. Many critics disagreed, but I was charmed by the feline Time Sweeper. Blinx was one of those "love it (well, not really love; like is more appropriate) or hate it" games.

The sequel, Blinx 2: Masters of Time and Space, improves upon most of the glaring issues that caused many to be turned off from playing in its first appearance. But it goes way overboard in its revamping by radically changing its gameplay. Yes, Blinx 2 has a better camera, better targeting, and a better implementation of the time control functions. But by practically starting from scratch instead of simply fixing the

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less-desirable issues, developer Artoon has created a whole new set of problems by eliminating many of the likeable elements of the original.

More proves to be less in Blinx 2. Bigger levels and the ability to not only expand from a single playable Time Sweeper from the first title (Blinx himself) but also play levels that require playing with the piggish Tom Tom Gang. The

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Time Sweepers (including Blinx, who is in the game naturally) use the time controls to defeat the Tom Tom Gang, while the Tom Tom Gang employs stealth tactics to make their way past the Time Sweepers.

Using time crystals to get past enemies and puzzles, the original game's most innovative feature that carries over, is much more tolerable this time around. In Blinx 2, you don't have to collect three of the same crystals in a row without gathering another time crystal in-between, which would force you to start from scratch. You can collect crystals in any order, and they build up in your time crystal inventory in Blinx 2. The "fourth dimensional" facet of time control that allows you to fast-forward, rewind, slow down or pause time is the game's most redeeming feature.

But having too many playable characters (that can be modified in their appearance and clothing choices) means there isn't a single identifiable hero to associate with. Instead, it becomes a generic feline or swine cast of insignificant (seemingly) thousands that you will play, and zaps any personality via Blinx himself that the original game, no matter the level of ambivalence it received, brought to the gameplay. These are quickly forgettable denizens fighting over the control of the potentially universe-ending time crystal.

 

blinx-2-3.jpg (31049 bytes)         blinx-2-4.jpg (23000 bytes)


Bringing up the story, Blinx 2 has a totally unremarkable and downright ridiculously infantile and uninteresting story that doesn't even merit mention. How does a game developer expect you to play level after level of an adventure game (a mediocre one at that) when there isn't a compelling story driving the action along?

What could have been a big addition, multiplayer options, proves to be nothing more than a wasted effort, because while you can play single-system, split-screen multiplayer gaming, there is no Xbox Live support. The multiplayer maps are terrible in Blinx 2 anyway, so even if there was Xbox Live support, I honestly can't say if it would have improved the game one iota.

In addition to the improved size of the levels, the visuals hold up well in comparison to the first Blinx. This is a spiffy-looking title. Technically, as mentioned earlier, Blinx 2's camera and targeting controls are superior to the original game. Before, targeting took on a totally schizophrenic behavior all its own. But with a better lock-on targeting system this time around, killing the bizarrely designed balloon-type creatures that fill the game becomes much easier. However, for older gamers, it becomes much too easy. The challenge level of Blinx 2 is seemingly designed with a younger gamer in mind. It's pretty simple to breeze through the game on its rudimentary level for the older demographic.

Coupling with the low challenge level is the standard platform game conventions that are completely filling the levels of Blinx 2. Gameplay breaks down to "jump, fight bad guy, collect item, solve undemanding puzzle, repeat." This is too uncomplicated a game for serious gamers to expect any kind of rewarding odyssey.

I really did not like Blinx 2 in the least. What could have been a redemptive game that just needed to retool a predecessor that really wasn't that far off from being a very good game turned into a disaster. For every negative Blinx 2 fixes from the first game, it comes up with two just-as-bad, way-past-time-to-change-the-kitty-litter features. Blinx 2 just isn't able to come anywhere near the fun that could be found in Blinx. If you liked the original game, don't expect Blinx 2 to replicate that enjoyment. This is another example of just how far behind both the PlayStation 2 and GameCube the Xbox is when it comes to first-party platformer gaming.

- Lee Cieniawa
lcieniawa@armchairempire.com

(January 7, 2004)

 

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