Release Date: November 16, 2004
Pre-order 'BLINX 2: Masters of Time & Space': Xbox
The original title of Blinx was a rather overlooked gem of a title; a gem due to the cutesy look and the deliberately retro theme of the gameplay and overlooked largely due to the fact that the original Blinx game would get ridiculously frustrating at times. Just as in the original title, in Blinx 2: Masters of Time and Space you take up the Time Sweeper and vest of a futuristic feline tasked with cleaning out monsters and collecting lost time crystals. Unlike the original title however, you can now play as not only a feline time sweeper but also as a member of the pig-like Tom Tom gang, a group of nefarious bandits bent on doing misdeeds, with their own style of gameplay.
If you haven’t heard of Blinx before and are reading this preview now, chances are you are fairly certain that somebody between this preview and Artoon is on PCP. In the world of Blinx cats that walk upright and can communicate run a place called the Time Factory which processes time itself and creates time crystals. When these time crystals leave the factory they turn into monsters, which is where the time sweepers come in. Time sweepers are a group of the afore-mentioned cats that are equipped with vacuum devices that can suck up and store just about anything that isn’t nailed down. Debris, trash, bombs, and other objects can be sucked up and then shot back out to destroy monsters while time crystals can be sucked up and stored for later use. The time crystals are made up of a handful of types, Rewind, Pause, Fast-Forward, Record, Slow, and Retry, and unlike the original title you don’t have to collect three of the same type of crystals in a row to unlock their ability but rather can pick up crystals as you please and use their abilities when you acquire enough.
If you have played Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time then you know exactly how useful time control can be. If you haven’t and are in the dark about how time control can be used in a game, think as if you had the same control over video games as you do home movies. Rewind can be used to go back in time to correct a mistake such as getting hit by an object you should have dodged, and can be used to restore things such as bridges and buttons from a broken status to a working one. Pause time stops everything except your character, allowing you to simply stroll by obstacles, traps, and enemies that were once perilous. Fast-Forward presumably allows time to move more quickly than normal, potentially making slow-moving objects work in normal time or making your character move quickly but wasn’t featured in the preview build. Record was similarly disabled in the preview build but could presumably be used to record a set of actions and have a temporary twin of your character act them out. Finally, slow time is used to slow but not entirely stop everything else; handy for when a scatter missile turret suddenly pops forth from the ground and launches a swarm of missiles at you.
The style of gameplay between playing as a member of the Time Sweepers and as a member of the Tom Tom gang is widely different. As a time sweeper you are tasked with defeating monsters and collecting time crystals to power your abilities. Using your time sweeper you can pick up trash and shoot it at enemies in a very straightforward manner, collect coins, and control time to suit your needs. Levels as a time sweeper are capped with a boss fight of some sort that requires you to think on your feet, with the reward being that of a Time Crystal itself. As a member of the Tom Tom gang the gameplay shifts to almost that of stealth based titles such as MGS though not nearly as deep or realistic. As a Tom Tom member you must avoid laser trip wires and cat guards’ and cameras line of sight to complete your goals, lest you want to raise an alarm and send a group (pack? flock?) of cats to your position. To assist you in your efforts each Tom Tom member can use a slingshot to knock out guards or the PIG-38 handgun to eliminate guards as well as cameras and lights. Instead of time control Tom Tom members can use traps such as bananas to slip up guards, decoy robots to distract them, time grenades to temporarily pause time, and an item called the sub-surface dive which enables you to tunnel under the ground to avoid guards and anything else you don’t want to deal with.
The graphics and sound in Blinx 2 retain the cartoony themes from the original title, which is in itself a good fit for the game. The graphics themselves are made up of a broad palette of vibrant colors and the character models themselves are incredibly detailed and, well, fuzzy. However, in some spots the textures used in the game world can look significantly lower in quality that what is normally expected, though it happens rarely enough that it isn’t much of a detriment to the overall look of the game. The sound spectrum of Blinx 2 is about the same in terms of its cartoon factor with largely melodic themes and sound effects that are cartoony and yet no blatantly so (When a Tom Tom his a cat guard with the bat it makes a noise that sounds as such, rather than an out of place cartoon “BONK!” noise).
There are still a lot of unknowns in the title, such as what functions teams serve in the game. At the onset of each mode you can design the look of your character and the outfits of your team of 4 characters, but in the preview build teammates never play a role past that. The Fast Forward and Record time features were locked, and only half of the Tom Tom members items were available to be utilized. Still, Blinx 2 looks like Artoo genuinely listened to the complaints of aggravated Blinx gamers everywhere and made a sequel that not only solves those complaints but also adds a second completely different style of play. Look for a full review of Blinx 2: Masters of Time and Space as it nears its ship date.
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