First things first. Blinx is a cat. But no ordinary cat. He is a member of the elite guard known as the Time Sweepers whose power derives from Time Crystals. However, through an attack by the Tom Tom gang, the Time Crystals have been dispersed throughout the land. Its your job as a member of the Time Sweepers to collect all those crystals before they fall into the wrong hands.
Blinx 2 takes an interesting approach to the platformer. For the first couple of missions you get to be Blinx or one of his cohorts. After that, you get to be one of the pigs Blinxs nemesis. I found this to be odd, because I found myself liking Blinx and his posse and then to turn around and defeat them felt off. Im not sure how kids will react. Anyhoo, the environments feel expansive and open. The level design was actually quite good. I found myself hopping onto platforms that seemed to take advantage of all areas of the world. All in all, it was mildly entertaining and I imagine it would be a lot of fun for kids.
The developer, Artoon, focuses quite a bit on customization. You can be any member of the TimeSweepers and can customize your look and outfits through a myriad of choices. This is clever fun, but does not add much to the gameplay. Changing the color of your shirt does not affect the game dynamics and therefore does not add much replay value.
The gameplay consists of puzzles and platform style action. Blinx can use his time vacuum to pick up objects and then launch them at his enemies. These objects are plentiful in the envoironment and consist of charis, benches, boxes, whatever trash is lying about. And if you run out of trash due to being a poor shot, never fear, more will spawn in. The enemies are much more creative this time around. In Blinx 1, they were basically blobs. Now they are actually monsters and the like. Blinxs specialty is his time vacuum which allows him to start and stop time, rewind and fast forward. Think of him as a VCR with whiskers. This feature was originally designed to show off the power of the Xbox hard drive and has been used successfully in other games such as Prince of Persia. The game actually forces you to use some of the time controls at various times. Sometimes youll need to slow time down in order to make it through a falling door. Most of the time, it is a tool to use when you need to. Too many monsters for you to handle? No problem, pause time and take them out at your leisure. Be careful, you have to collect tokens of each power and accumulate certain amounts before you can use the power. If you run out of tokens for that power, youre out of luck. When playing the part of a member of the Tom Tom gang, you have other tricks up your sleeve, such as the ability to throw banana peels to trip your enemy. Like Blinxs crew, you actually have to find the objects (such as banana peels) before you can use them. The focus of the Tom Tom gang members is stealth and avoidance since they dont have the power to control time. The object of the game for them is the same, find the Time Crystals before the Time Sweepers do.
The puzzles were kid friendly as they consisted mostly of jumping on things and moving to other areas within certain limits. Or flip certain switches in combination with other switches. Like other puzzle platformers, youll find the puzzles are mostly about trying to find your way to a specific place on the map, usually the end. How you get there is what makes up the puzzle. Nothing groundbreaking here, but fun and varied nonetheless.
Graphics and Sound
The graphics were pretty good as I would expect for a late generation Xbox title. While the premise is cartoony, the look and feel is more futuristic abstract. Everything is less angular and less symmetrical. Its almost what I would describe as dark without being depressing. The textures were vibrant and colorful and I noticed no significant drops in Framerate. The cut scenes were pre-rendered so they had a cinematic quality to them that is unavailable in scenes that are rendered in the game engine. The models are well done and nicely animated, conveying a good amount of emotion (and fur!). Since the game supports 480p, the quality on high definition sets should look pretty crisp (again, the fur!). The music consists of, well, cartoon music. Not sure how else to describe it. It was upbeat and catchy. Perhaps a little too electronic, but given the demographic, I think kids will enjoy the boppiness of it. It seems to mesh well with the hopping and jumping inherent in this type of game. Less obvious are the times in the game when it switches to a more jazzy or classical tone, but always comes back to the signature cartoon feel. Almost unnoticeable as game music should be. Plus for those parents who like to monitor their kids gaming habits, the variety and catchiness of the music wont get too annoying after a while. The voice-acting was adequate, exactly what Id expect from a kids game. Think Saturday morning cartoons. Lots of over-the-top acting and stereotypes. The effects were good, but dont stand out above anything else in the kids platformer genre. Lots of shwoops, and whistles, and gronks and the vacuum makes a beefy sucking sound when activated. When using the time controls, they cleverly take on adreamy air when pausing, a pseudo-reverse sound when rewinding. All-in-all very appropriate use of sound effects.
Multiplayer in Blinx 2 consists of system link and split screen. There is no Live support.
If you are a fan of platformers, this is a decent title. Being a G-rated game, it is also good for the kids and stimulating enough to keep them busy for hours. Recommended.
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