Blinx: The Time Sweeper
Platform gamers, like myself, who begin salivating at the rumor that Sega might release Sonic the Hedgehog for the Xbox, will have to be satisfied with the next best thing. Naoto Ohshima, creator of Sonic, has finally shipped the hit platform game of E3: Blinx: The Time Sweeper. Is it as good as Sonic? Well, not exactly, but platform gamers take heart, the graphics are stunning and game play is contagious and fun.
You control Blinx, one of many cats working at the Time Factory. Your job is to keep time flowing and fix time glitches. Everything is fine, until the Tom-Tom gang destabilizes time, kidnaps the princess and threatens to abuse time crystals for their own nefarious purposes. Your job is to recover the princess, save the Time Factory and restore 'timely'? world order.
Armed with only his trusty Time Sweeper, Blinx sets off to clean up the graphically beautiful, 40 reality-warped levels and take out all Time Monsters in his path. Taking out monsters is as easy as sucking up trash and discharging it at them. Sounds simple enough, but wait, it's not that easy. Blinx is up against the clock, as each level vanishes after 10 minutes. Many levels can't be completed or bonuses earned unless you collect enough time crystals to grant Blinx temporary time control (pause, rewind, fast forward, rewind, record, and slow). The additional challenge is that you have to collect the proper combination of crystals to gain a time control. This will require you to backtrack in levels and greatly adds to the replayability and challenge of the game. Collect enough gold and you go to the Shop to upgrade your Time Sweeper or purchase other items to assist you in your work.
Blinx is complex and even though it's not everything that we had hoped for, it certainly sets a high standard and gives us platform gamers a glimpse of what the Xbox is capable of. For Xbox platform gamers, Blinx is a must buy'everyone else should rent it first'but give it 'time,'? as it definitely grows on you.
Download Blinx: The Time Sweeper
If only life came with a remote control. Wouldn't you love to rewind time and undo that boneheaded pick-up line you just struck out with? (Trust us, "Is there a mirror in your pocket? 'Cause I can see myself in your pants" doesn't work.) Well, that's the premise (sorta) behind Blinx, one of the most innovative platformers to come along since Mario jumped on his first goomba.
Well, Nintendo's got their blue-collar brothers and now Microsoft has its own working-class stiff: a cute, cuddly janito--err--cat named Blinx. He's one of an army of feline custodial engineers armed with high-powered Hoovers (the TSiooo) whose job is to ensure that time keeps flowing (read: defeat time monsters). Hey, it's a dirty job, but somebody's got to do it.
As you start playing, you may find the game feels oddly familiar. No surprise there; developer Artoon is composed mostly of ex-Sonic Team members. But unlike Sega's speed demon, Blinx adds a whole new dimension to the genre: time control. Producer Earnest Yuen explains that Blinx "opens the door to new solutions for taking out monsters, new ways to access areas of the level, and a bunch of awesome hidden goodies." In short, you not only need mad platforming skills, but must also manage the very flow of time in the game.
The only reason this is even possible is due to the Xbox's built-in hard drive--it is constantly recording what you do as you play. Thanks to it, you can instantly rewind and re-do actions or record new ones and play them back. In this case, the Xbox is working exactly like a TiVo recorder. Both temporarily save video information on a hard drive. (If you're still not getting the picture, hit pause and read the sidebars to learn all about it.)
We know what you're thinking: "If I can just pause, rewind and mess with time whenever I get into trouble, how tough can this game be?" Well, you're going to need to incorporate some strategy, because you don't have unlimited VCR access. Confused yet? Don't be. Earning your different time powers couldn't be easier. Each world is filled with different-colored gems that correspond with the various time effects or health power-ups. But here's the catch: you can only collect four gems at a time, and it takes a set of three same-colored baubles to earn any sort of reward. Collect four gems without completing a set of three or more, and you have to start all over again. Therein lies the strategy in Blinx.
So you have to decide: Do you go for the extra life or the ability to slow time to a crawl? Or do you hang on and try to double your reward by grabbing four of the same gem? It's an interesting--and surprisingly cool--form of micro-management in a game where you totally wouldn't expect it. It allows Blinx to tackle every challenge in the game in multiple ways, making for some nice replay value.
When you aren't trying to pull an H.G. Wells on the monsters, you'll be concentrating on earning a little extra cash. So just suck up anything you see with your TSiooo (Blinx is a janitor, after all). It's all worth money that can be used to upgrade your vacuum cleaner at the between-level store. Blinx can buy everything from liqui-vac nozzles to a trippy, glow-in-the-dark model. (Don't ask us what that one's for.)
No word from Microsoft on the possibility of a home-haircut accessory. Oh, and did we mention that the only way to defeat the baddies is by launching said junk at them? So get suckin'! Trust us; a full TS1000 combined with the magic of the Pause button is the only way to fight a boss.
In the sea of me-too platform games we're being subjected to this year, Blinx's time-twisting adventure is just bursting with originality. Now that we've played it, we're pretty pumped. We just wish there were a fast-forward button to make the release date come quicker.
Ever since a certain brave plumber risked it all to rescue a kidnapped princess in the Mushroom Kingdom, hopeful blue-collar workers keep a watchful eye open for a shot at heroism. Blinx the cat gets his chance to shine when this frisky feline janitor (oops...we mean Time Sweeper. Sorry.) embarks on a journey to free his own damsel in distress. Armed with only his TSiooo Time Sweeper (read: vacuum), he must find the girl, squash the Time Monsters that imprisoned her, and repair the nasty temporal glitches they created.
At first glance, Blinx might appear to be standard hop-'n'-bop fare, but this cat's Time Sweeper (with some help from the Xbox hard drive) dishes out some innovative temporal effects (see below). These creative tricks really invite experimentation. "You could watch someone else play Blinx and do something completely different from what you did," says Ed Fries, VP of Xbox game content. "You may go, Why didn't I think of that?"
Blinx's gameplay borrows elements from Mario 64, Luigi's Mansion and Crash Bandicoot to create a solid romp of vacuuming fun. You'll guide the crafty chrono-cat through 40+ stages of action, including snowy villages, dank caves and trippy MC Escher-inspired areas. Throughout, you'll be using the TS1000 to gather time crystals, blast enemies and slurp up garbage. Picking up extra refuse isn't merely good for the planet--you'll net extra cash for upgrading your vacuum. Hey, if a flame-spraying Hoover works for Luigi, why not for this cat, too?
So, is Blinx the new mascot for the Xbox? His likable Cheshire-like grin and snazzy attire surely make him more presentable than the oozing Oddworld boys, but Microsoft isn't really interested in having a character spokesman. "I'm not a big fan of the whole mascot idea, personally," Fries says. "I just want to make games, and having great characters is just part of making games."