|Title||:||Blinx: The Time Sweeper|
|Review by||:||Ken Gagne|
Sega's Virtua Fighter earned a place in the Smithsonian for being the first 3-D video game. While Microsoft's Blinx is unlikely to follow suit, it is an innovative platform game that gives Xbox gamers pause.
Blinx is advertised as a 4-D game in which players are given access to the fourth dimension of time. By gathering at least three identical jewels (collecting a variety will produce an invalid combination), Blinx gains the ability to fast forward, rewind, and pause, among other commands. In reality, many of Blinx's abilities are staples of many action games, but collecting them all into one repertoire makes this game unique.
If temporal mechanics gives you headaches, fear not: Blinx's time controls are easy to learn after a few mistimed attempts. The Pause button halts all action, but won't let Blinx hit any enemy more than once. Rewind briefly restores broken architecture to its whole state, while Record creates a duplicate of Blinx that allows him to be in two places at once.
Whatever the time, players are challenged to use Blinx's vacuum to clean up each stage. Holding down the 'R' trigger collects nearby pieces of trash, while tapping the button shoots garbage at enemies. Each stage must be cleared of its dozen or so enemies within ten minutes in order to progress. Gold can be collected and spent on hardware upgrades with which Blinx can suck larger pieces of trash, opening new paths in old levels. The various vacuums do not apparently improve the targeting system, though. His apparatus does not always take aim at the intended target, especially when the enemy is airborne — causing projectiles to land haphazardly, sometimes endangering Blinx's welfare.
The short nature of the levels, though, as well as their increasing complexity, hidden treasures, and score cards, prompt frequent replaying, even if there is some frustration which detracts from that factor.
Just as most levels are either fun or frustrating, the bosses are also a mixed bag. They either demand creative use of Blinx's time controls, or are generic monsters that must simply be avoided until they expose a weak spot and players can fire a shot. Either situation is challenging, but the latter fails to take advantage of Blinx's gimmick.
On all stages, the camera is regularly active, and though manual control is as necessary here as it is in Super Mario Sunshine, tight quarters can cause players to see Blinx but none of his surroundings. When the stage is visible, players are treated to a diverse landscape of ruins, caves, and sewers. The layouts are easy enough to navigate, yet cleverly conceal secrets from those gamers in a rush. The music is fairly common and could become annoying after awhile, except it changes with each of the short-lived stages, keeping things moving.
Blinx falls victim to some of the glitches common in 3D platform games, but the manipulation of the fourth dimension gives the genre a new perspective. You won't be swept away, but it's a fun time nonetheless.
This article is copyright (c) 2002, 2007 by Ken Gagne. All rights reserved. Not to be distributed without permission.
Original publication: Sentinel & Enterprise, 28-Oct-02