Blinx was Microsoftâ€™s attempt at creating a mascot for the Xbox other than Master Chief. Unfortunately, Blinx was plagued by bad camera angles and a lack of speed for a platform game. While having the ability to manipulate time was a cool idea, having to collect the time icons in a certain order made the game more puzzle-like than it already was.
However, that didnâ€™t stop Artoon from trying again. Now Blinx 2: Masters of Time and Space has been released. While it improves on the formula of the original, it doesnâ€™t live up to the potential it has.
The graphics in Blinx 2 are a bit of a paradox. The main characters in the game look terrific. The fur shading of the characters is instantly noticeable. While they arenâ€™t as detailed as the shots seen in Conker: Live and Reloaded, the fur shading does add a lot of graphic detail to the characters. The animation of the main characters it also excellent. When sucking garbage and bombs for ammo for the sweeper, dust swirls around the opening. The garbage entering the sweeper is similar to what youâ€™d see in a cartoon. The animation of the water is excellent as well, which is expected on the Xbox.
However, the graphics for some of enemies is rather crude. Some of them look like a ball with a few spiky fangs. Cannons that pop out and fire at you donâ€™t look as round as expected. The backgrounds look blocky as well. Itâ€™s not bad, per se, but it could have been done a bit better.
One nice feature of the game is that you are able to customize the look of the team you lead. Everything from the hair color, to the color and design of your uniform is modifiable, and each has a nice selection of options to choose from. You can also change the height and size of your characters.
The music in the game is fun. While it has some jazz flavor to it, it is very light-hearted. The music adds a lot to the feel of the game, giving it a jovial feel.
The sound effects work well for the game. While explosions arenâ€™t incredibly loud, they do pack a relatively strong punch. Sucking up objects into the sweeper has a vacuum sound with almost a slurp when the object is sucked in. When using a time power, the music will â€œrewindâ€ appropriately.
The voice acting is done very well. Admittedly, it is kind of funny to watch a bunch of cats acting seriously about their base of operations being attacked, but the voice acting helps to make it believable. They definitely used professional voice actors for the game. I even recognized that one of the voice actors is one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles from the current cartoon. He has been used in other voice acting jobs as well.
The controls are fairly straightforward. The left analog stick controls movement while the right analog stick controls the camera. The D-pad selects which power to use and which weapon to use. The right trigger sweeps up ammo and time crystal icons. The left trigger locks onto enemies and the right trigger shoots out ammo while the left trigger is held down. A jumps and double jumps. B performs an action. X activates your power up, and Y performs a special move.
There are a couple of issues that hamper the controls of this game. First, the camera feels rather loose. It is difficult at times to get your character to move in the direction you want to because of this. Getting the camera in the exact position you want it in can be rather difficult.
Another issue I had was the fact that to sweep up ammo for the sweeper, as well as shoot it out used the same button. At times it seemed like I would want to shoot and the sweeper would start to suck, literally.
The biggest change in Blinx 2 is that you donâ€™t play Blinx. Notice how the subtitle is â€œMasters of Time and Space.â€ You will play the leader of a band of Time Sweepers (the cats), and the leader of a band of Tom Tom Gang members (hogs). Both play similarly, but have different ways to accomplish their missions.
The Time Sweepers have a way to manipulate time by collecting Time Crystals. These crystals allow you to slow time, freeze it, and rewind it. The crystals can either be swept up or run over. Three of the same type are needed to gain that ability. However, you donâ€™t need to collect them in a specific order as in the first game. During the game these time controls will be needed to avoid getting hit and solve puzzles. For instance, a bridge that you want to cross might be out. You can fix the bridge by using your rewind time control.
The Tom Tom Gang is a bit different. While many of the same moves are available, the Tom Tom Gang gets around by controlling space and sneaking around. Sneaking around involves crawling, cliffhanging, and using a wall sneak. While you arenâ€™t going to mistake this for Sam Fisher, it is a nice addition. The Time Sweepers have cones of visibility you can see on them while sneaking around. While the Tom Tom Gang doesnâ€™t have time controls, they do have other methods to help them get around. They can deploy decoys to distract the Time Sweepers, make them slip on banana peels, or use warp holes to get from one place to another. Unfortunately, you need to throw them, and while the arc on the screen isnâ€™t always that accurate, and sometimes they can bounce. Itâ€™s also hard to get a good shot off because the enemy will swarm around you quickly if they spot you and they are tough. The main weapon you have is a slingshot that shoots tranquilizer darts, but they require multiple shots and are best used when you are undetected.
Both sides have their own short tutorial. This helps you learn the moves on both sides. They arenâ€™t that difficult to complete, but later on in the game other minigames can be played for fun that will challenge your skills. There are also Rank-up Exams that need to be taken as well.
A couple of other items are collected in the game besides Time Crystals and Space Controls. Coins are collected through the game. These can be used at the shop to buy and sell weapons and other items. Milk is used to restore your health.
While the game might look a bit like a kidâ€™s platformer, it plays something more like Jak and Dexter or Ratchet and Clank. It has a nice blend of action and platforming, with some puzzle solving involved. However, itâ€™s not easy by any means, and it might take several tries to get past certain checkpoints. A good number of checkpoints are on each level, so you donâ€™t have to replay the entire level if you get killed.
I did find myself enjoying the Time Sweeper portions more than the Tom Tom Gang ones. While itâ€™s nice to have both sides to play, it runs the risk that some people will like once side more than the other.
Blinx 2 does have a multiplayer component to it. It has a two-player cooperative mode. In this mode, you can play either as you normally would, or you can have one attack enemies while the other handles the time controls.
The game also has some competitive modes. One mode has two to four people fighting either individually or in teams, similar to multi-player Ratchet and Clank. However, if you play in teams, you can order your team to do different things such as attack or seek out items or to wait where they are at. Certain weapons and abilities are also available in Vs. mode. The Time and Space Controls do different things in multiplayer than in the single player game. Unfortunately, the game doesnâ€™t support Xbox Live, which would have been a great distraction for this game.While Blinx 2 might not have the â€œclassicâ€ feel of Mario or Sonic, it does come much closer. The camera angles are much improved and itâ€™s much easier since you donâ€™t have to micromanage the order of the time crystals that are vacuumed up. However, the difficulty of the game can be a bit frustrating at times. Itâ€™s definitely worth checking out if you are a fan of platformers though and you have an Xbox. Donâ€™t let the scores of the first game scare you. Blinx 2 is much better than its predecessor. Artoon should be commended with sticking with Blinx and making a new and original game.