Blinx: The Time Sweeper

Blinx: The Time Sweeper

Written by Charlie Sinhaseni on 11/9/2002 for Xbox  
More On: Blinx: The Time Sweeper
Have you ever wondered what it would be like if you could control time? You know, walk around with a remote control and have the ability to pause, record, and rewind time as you pleased? Then Blinx just might be your bag, the first game to revolve around 4 dimensions, with the 4th dimension representing time. By injecting this unique element into the rapidly staling 3D platformer genre, Artoon is hoping to place itself above the rest of the competition.

The story starts out simple enough, you’re a janitorial cat named Blinx who just happens to be a keeper of time. A princess is captured by a group of otherworldly beings so of course you’ll take it upon yourself to rescue her. By collecting similar crystals, Blinx unlocks certain functions of a VCR. For instance, if he were to collect three blue crystals he’d be able to pause time and move around freely while the rest of the world is halted to a stop. Likewise, you can collect three red crystals and unlock the record function of your VCR. The record function becomes a vital part of the majority of the game’s puzzles. For instance, sometimes you’ll come across teeter totters and since you only have one player, you’ll need to record yourself jumping on one side of the totter while you stand on the other, thus launching you to your next destination.

Blinx is a janitor of some sorts, by utilizing his vacuum-like weapon, he can suck up the garbage in a level. The garbage that is sucked up is then used as a projectile that is harmful to your enemies. All of the game’s combat revolves around sucking up garbage and then hurling it at your opponents, it’s as simple as that. Each level places you a starting point where you have 10 minutes to rid the level of all of your enemies. After doing so you’ll have to hoof it to the exit in order to be successful. While in the beginning it’s pretty fun to walk around and suck up pieces of garbage, it quickly becomes old hat. Combat is rather repetitive and while there are a few variations in the action, it’s all generally the same. Facing a boss requires you to run around, pick up pieces of trash and (you guessed it) launching it at them.

While rather intuitive, the puzzles become old quite rapidly, a result of the element of time not being used as efficiently as it should have been. The first few times you happen upon the puzzles you’ll probably be rather amazed by the way that they are constructed. We were pretty pleased when we saw that an early puzzle involved the use of the rewind function to reconstruct a bridge that had been destroyed. Eventually though, much like the rest of the game’s action, it gets repetitive and ultimately predictable. Levels are constructed from a general template, starting point filled with trash. Run around collect some gems; launch trash at all of the enemies in a level and then head for the exit. It’s a concept that runs its course far too quickly and it is in this respect that the game ultimately falls short.
I’ll give the designers their due, however, the levels are rather well designed and feature plenty of nice touches and details. Blinx is a beautiful game that really takes advantage of the Xbox’s hardware. A lot of the levels take place in the midst of villages, some filled with canals and others filled with picturesque storefronts. You’ll notice excellent lighting effects, surfaces that feature some nice reflections and some of the beautiful water that we’ve come to expect from our Xbox games. Blinx himself is quite well designed; some excellent fur-effects have been used to give the impression that he really is a furry little being. His animations flow together quite well and the game does an excellent job of showcasing them. I really enjoyed the entire visual package and I’m sure that the highly stylized graphics will be pleasing to your eyes as well. There are some pre-rendered sequences to help advance the plot and those too are very well done. Kudos for developing an excellent game world and populating it with fun and imaginative designs.

Blinx also fares quite well in the audio department. Most of the music is just excellent, featuring tracks that are best described as a blend of J-Pop and Disney. Kid-friendly tunes blare through your speakers as you progress through each of the game’s levels and it really helps add to the energetic atmosphere. The end result is catchy and upbeat. You’ll want to turn it up, especially if you have a nice system. Even the voice acting is above par although I’m not sure what par is as far as talking cats go. The game takes full advantage of 5.1 and although the extra channels aren’t necessary for a game of this genre, it’s still nice to turn around and hear the sound pan from your front speakers over to your rear speakers. There are numerous creeks filled with running water in the game and the sound of running water moving through the speakers really leads to some excellent effects.

As you progress through the game you’ll collect cash that be used to upgrade your hardware and even upgrade your design. Money is earned by having trash in your possession at the end of a level or by collecting cash around the levels. You’ll be able to purchase new vacuums that are capable of sucking up trash at a higher rate as well as ones that hold more items. If you’re not content with Blinx’s style then you’ll be able to purchase new outfits to change his appearance to your liking. Not much customization is available but it’s still pretty nice for Artoon to give the gamer the option of doing so.

After getting my hands on this puppy at E3 I was heavily anticipating the day that I would get to play it in the comfort of my own living room. While most of the initial luster has worn off, I’m still pleased by what I have experienced. There’s a lot of repetition here and I’m afraid that it will fail to capture the short attention spans of today’s kids. There is an awful lot to like here and if you’re in the market for a great 3D Xbox platformer, then this is probably your best option.

Blinx is an above average platformer that succeeds by introducing something new and refreshing to the genre. The time controls are pretty fun to use and it really adds something new and different to what would otherwise be a rather stale game. If you have kids and you want to get them something that is fun and devoid of violence then you should give this game some serious consideration. Likewise, if you’re like me and you have a girlfriend who is amused by bright and shiny objects and has a serious love affair with cats then this is a definite must-buy. Cats are total chick magnets, trust me on this one.

Time travel got you down? Gaming Nexus recommends you pick up Prima Games' excellent strategy guide to get you back in the game.
A game with a unique gimmick but it’s just that, a gimmick. The idea of controlling time is excellent but it’s just not was well executed as it could have been. A fun game that is full of “must-buy” potential that basically simmers down to “possible-rental” material.

Rating: 8.4 Good

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.

About Author

Gaming has been a part of my life for as long as I could remember. I can still recall many a lost nights spent playing Gyromite with that stupid robot contraption for the old NES. While I'm not as old as the rest of the crew around these parts, I still have a solid understanding of the heritage and the history of the video gaming industry.

It's funny, when I see other people reference games like Doom as "old-school" I almost begin to cringe. I bet that half of these supposed "old-school" gamers don't even remember classic games like Rise of the Triad and Commander Keen. How about Halloween Harry? Does anyone even remember the term "shareware" anymore? If you want to know "old-school" just talk to John. He'll tell you all about his favorite Atari game, Custer's Revenge.

It's okay though, ignorance is bliss and what the kids don't know won't hurt them. I'll just simply smile and nod the next time someone tells me that the best entry in the Final Fantasy franchise was Final Fantasy VII.

When I'm not playing games I'm usually busy sleeping through classes at a boring college in Southern Oregon. My current hobbies are: writing songs for punk rock bands that never quite make it, and teasing Bart about... well just teasing Bart in general. I swear the material writes itself when you're around this guy. He gives new meaning to the term "moving punching bag."

As for games, I enjoy all types except those long-winded turn-based strategy games. I send those games to my good pal Tyler, I hear he has a thing for those games that none of us actually have the time to play.

When I'm not busy plowing through a massive pile of video games I spend all of my time trying to keep my cute little girl fed. She eats a ton but damn she's so hot. Does anyone understand the Asian girl weight principal? Like they'll clean out your fridge yet still weigh less than 110 pounds.

Currently I'm playing: THUG, True Crime, Prince of Persia, Project Gotham 2 and Beyond Good & Evil. View Profile

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