Blinx 2: Masters of Time and Space
Microsoft offers up the sequel to its first attempt at a cute cuddly mascot for the Xbox, but does Blinx 2 fare a bit better than its predecessor?
It seems as though every console needs at least one game that features a cute little furry animal running around the screen collecting some kind of currency that awards a life to the player once they've collected over 100 of them. Thankfully in recent years gaming has taken a more mature turn and has offered characters like Master Chief and Solid Snake to be the cover boys for their respective systems.
Blinx was released two years ago in an attempt to bring the younger demographic a bit more in touch with Microsoft's system, sadly the game couldn't provide the kind of fun that the Marios or the Crash Bandicoots of yesteryear but nonetheless the game was worth checking out, especially because the platformer has become quite a barren genre. Does Blinx 2 follow in the first game's footsteps or does it plot its own course into gaming supremacy? Keep reading to find out.
The game actually does have a fairly fun story, especially for something that is directed mainly at kids. The game begins with the dastardly pigs, who call themselves the Tom Tom Gang and were the enemy from the first game, uncovering something called the Big Crystal which allows the owner complete control over the delicate fabric of time. Someone will have to stand in their way! Well, that's what Blinx and his gang of feline heroines are for. You'll play through more than 40 levels in an attempt to recover the Time Crystal, thus saving our beloved planet from the clutches of the Tom Tom Gang. Blinx 2 employs a method of humor that tries to tickle everyone who plays regardless of their age. Sadly some of these jokes come off either over the head of younger viewers or way too childish for us old folks and misses the desired middle ground.
An interesting twist to the sequel that some devoted Blinx fans may not appreciate is the inability to play as the title character. Instead players are forced to create a few custom characters to play as through the course of the game. Customization comes in the form of over 20 changeable physical traits. When all is said and done you'll have the opportunity to change four different characters from both the Cats and Pigs.
It is a bit of a treat to see your created characters play out through the course of the game's story but on the same note I did feel a bit sad waiving goodbye to Blinx for the entire game. Interestingly enough it appears that Halo 2 took a page out of the Blinx handbook, as the same technique of playing as both sides (good and bad) is used here. Each side has different abilities, i.e. the ability to control time while playing as the Cats and controlling space while assuming the role of the Pigs.
Time control has been made a bit more streamlined than it was in the first game where we were left with almost too much emphasis being put on the time control feature. While it was a big selling point I felt like it was almost being forced into the game all too often. Thankfully this time around Artoon has blended it a bit better making it feel like it truly belongs in the game. On the Pigs' side of things we're left with the ability to control space. Basically what this amounts to is being able to utilize special warps, space bubbles, and avoid traps. Sadly with this new gameplay mechanic comes the same plague that took control of last year's game, the feeling of being forced.
Rather than flowing through the gameplay experience Blinx 2 feels a bit too guided, almost like you're on a never ending rail ride at Disney World when you expected to be able to roam freely through the park. While this may be what a younger gamer is looking for it virtually puts the main demographic of the Xbox in a firm state of exile. All in all the gameplay is well conceived but poorly executed. Puzzle solutions are too obviously presented which takes away from the feeling of accomplishment that you should get once you complete one of the game's mind benders.
Graphics in the game are everything that you'd expect from an Xbox exclusive. The game takes great advantage of things that only the Xbox can do. Nicely done light blooms, shadows, reflections, and high res textures outline a long list of graphical features. Blinx 2 features 10 environments to roam around each with its own feel and look which helps keep the gameplay on its feet. The only downside that can be said about the graphical presentation has to do with the level design. All too often you'll feel as though the walls are closing in on you because of the claustrophobic feel of most of the levels.
As with most games targeted at young gamers the audio presentation features catchy techno riffs that seem to be on a thirty second loop. While it's not horrible, the constant looping of the same childish tunes does get a bit nauseating at times. The effects are pleasing to the ear with some nice touches added to the time and space abilities that really pack a nice little punch. Dialogue is also a mixed bag featuring some humorous moments which are sadly equalled by the amount of cheesy ones.
Overall the game is an admirable effort at giving the younger gamers among us something to toy around with for a few hours. The newly added cooperative mode gives the game a little added life but the simplicity of it all definitely catches up with the game.
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