Blinx The Time Sweeper
by Microsoft Game Studios
You may be deceived into thinking that Blinx is no more than a Mario imitation; with a plucky hero, a damsel in distress, monsters-a-plenty, and a vacuum cleaner to boot, but theres much more to Blinx than that. At the start of the game, youll see what Blinx is made of when the Tom-Tom Gang break the flow of time to steal time crystals, creating numerous time monsters in the process and kidnap the Princess of the world that they are pillaging. Blinx dives into world B1Q64 to save the Princess and restore the flow of time when everyone else runs in the opposite direction. Here begins the game and the fun.
Time is what sets this game apart from any other that I have played. You control time; you can use rewind, fast-forward, pause, record and slow motion controls as you collect the relevant time crystals throughout the game. You have a maximum of ten minutes on each level in the game and the Xbox records each and every second of those ten minutes, so that if a statue falls down at the beginning of the level, the event can be rewound at any point within the maximum ten minutes. You can record yourself and then replay the recorded Blinx to give you an extra pair of paws. This is a revolutionary use of the Xboxs hard drive and why no other console could produce a game with this fantastic concept.
Blinx is never affected by the time controls, he can run around and collect essential time crystals while using a pause time control or take advantage of everything else being in slow motion to defeat time monsters. A bit like those fantastic scenes form the film The Matrix. Blinx successfully manipulates time for a unique puzzle solving platform game. To collect time control powers, Blinx must collect at least three crystals that are the same shape and colour. This then gives Blinx one time control, but if you selectively pick up four crystals of the same shape and colour, Blinx earns two time controls. So, the warning is not to run around all over the place.
Holding down the B button will bring a menu on screen, so that you can select which time control you would like to use. At the start of the game, Blinx can only hold three time controls and three retrys but as you collect gold you can buy more time holders and more retry holders, which you will need as you play through later levels.
Although there is not a separate tutorial, Blinx eases you into the hectic gameplay with a can do attitude. In the very first level, you are given step by step instructions, all presented in text. You can get through these early levels without using time controls but soon enough you have to face up to the fact that without time controls but more importantly, without using them wisely, you wont keep Blinx alive, defeat the Tom-Tom gang, save world B1Q64 or rescue the Princess.
I said earlier that you have up to ten minutes to complete a level, now this may seem luxurious but as Blinx progresses and the game becomes more complex with numerous monsters and ever increasingly difficult platform manoeuvres, ten minutes wont be anywhere near long enough.
The real beauty of this game is that it actually encourages you to return to levels you have already completed. Levels where you know that you can stock up on time crystals, retrys or gold. All of which will give you the advantage over the baddies that you are trying to defeat, whether that means grabbing some time crystals for future use or increasing your cash flow to purchase an upgrade to your Timesweeper.
You must use the Timesweeper to defeat all the monsters you encounter and only then will the Time Portal open to transport you to another level. Sucking things into the Timesweeper is much easier than in Luigis Mansion, just press and hold the X button. Aiming at a monster is done automatically, which, for the most part is very good. But when I wanted to shoot the rubbish at a target other than a monster, it was very difficult to hit the target in one shot.
The ammo used in your Timesweeper is very ecologically friendly. Blinx not only rids each level of the baddies but he also clears up the rubbish, literally: barrels, benches, TVs and the like. Suck it up, aim and blast those pesky monsters. Be careful though, as some monsters take more than one shot to defeat them, a little circle above the monsters shows how much damage they have taken. Choose your rubbish wisely, a large barrel does more damage than a potted plant. As you redo levels, youll find yourself becoming very picky over what rubbish you use.
After one hit from those monsters, youre dead. However, if you have a retry left, shown by a heart at the top left of the screen, the game will rewind a few seconds before your demise, to allow you just enough time to prevent your death a second time around.
With ten unique locations and three levels and one boss in each location, this game will have you occupied for many months to come. This may sound like an exaggeration but as I have mentioned, to complete this game, youll need to revisit levels. Revisiting levels however, is not a bore. Youll want to find all the new parts and secret cat medals and youll want to try to better your time grading (the faster you complete the level, the better grade youll get with A being top). Secret cat medals unlock little cutscenes, which arent necessary to finish the game but keeps the curious and perfectionists amongst us coming back for more.
Considering that you can control time and Blinx moves around within a recorded portion of the game, there are no shuddering animations to be found anywhere. The transition from normal time to a time control is very smooth and vice-versa. Blinx is very appealing to the eye. Each location is unique with fantastic detail and youll love the variety of monsters on offer. Of course, each has its own weaknesses but youll soon have them figured out.
At the start of a new game, there is a fully subtitled cutscene. These subtitles are on by default as the characters in Blinx talk in their own cat language. Blinxs meows are not subtitled but this in no way affects the brilliant gameplay. Finding ten secret cat medals unlocks little reward cutscenes which as far as I have seen do not contain any vocal information.
Blinx has shown the gaming world just what the Xbox can do and what it has the potential to do. It is definitely one of the finest Xbox games to have been produced so far and a title that every Xbox owner should have in their collection.
Gamers Comment: No