Blinx: The Time Sweeper
|Blinx: The Time Sweeper|
|Publisher(s)||Microsoft Game Studios|
Blinx: The Time Sweeper is a platform game developed by Artoon and published by Microsoft Game Studios. It was released for the Xbox on October 7, 2002. A sequel, Blinx 2: Masters of Time and Space, was released for the Xbox in 2004.
Advertised as "The World's First 4D Action Game", Blinx: The Time Sweeper is a third-person platform game, in which the player controls the titular character Blinx, an anthropomorphic cat, who is on a mission to prevent the end of Dimension B1Q64 and rescue its princess from the evil Tom-Tom Gang. Blinx is outfitted with the TS-1000 Vacuum Cleaner, with which he can exert control over time itself through five unique "Time Controls": slowing down time, speeding it up, recording himself, reversing time, and stopping it entirely via pausing.
The player takes on the role of Blinx, an anthropomorphic cat who works as a Time Sweeper at the Time Factory, a facility located outside of Time itself that is dedicated to the creation, distribution and maintenance of the flow of time throughout countless dimensions and the universe as a whole. Whenever Time Glitches are found in any part of a dimension, Time Sweepers like Blinx are dispatched to whatever dimension the Glitches are in to locate and correct them before they solidify into Time Crystals. If left unchecked, the Crystals will manifest themselves into Time Monsters, and said Monsters will roam freely among whatever dimension they're in, disrupting time and distorting whatever they come into contact with. However, when the Tom-Tom Gang, a malevolent army of pigs, begin to steal and destroy countless Time Crystals in a dimension known by the codename "B1Q64", it becomes unstable to the extent that the Time Sweepers decide, for the safety of all other dimensions, to halt the supply of time to it, suspending it and its inhabitants indefinitely. But when Blinx spots Princess Lena, the monarch of Dimension B1Q64, being held hostage by the Tom-Tom Gang, he enters the dimension via the Time Sweepers' Time Portal moments before it closes to rescue her.
Blinx's TS-1000 Vacuum Cleaner allows him to control time itself through six different "Time Controls": Rewind, Fast Forward, Pause, Record, Slow, and Retry.
To gain Time Controls, Blinx must first collect Time Crystals. Time Crystals appear as shining, floating, spinning crystals in the game world. Blinx can collect the Time Crystals in any order, but when he holds three of a particular Crystal, he gains one use of whatever Time Control it is, and if he holds four of a particular Crystal, he gains two uses of that Time Control. Said Time Controls are stored in the TS-1000, up to the maximum number of Time Holders Blinx possesses.
Blinx can trigger any of these first five Time Controls at any time:
- REW - Two purple chevrons pointing to the left. Time Crystal - Purple 'plus'. This causes time to run backwards for everything in the world except Blinx himself. Bridges and other elements previously destroyed can be restored with this Time Control no matter how long ago they were destroyed. Useful when there is a stream with a one-way current or you need to go up a waterfall.
- FF - Two orange chevrons pointing to the right. Time Crystal - Orange pyramid. This causes time to run rapidly forwards for everything in the world including Blinx. During FF, Blinx is invulnerable to damage from time monsters or environmental hazards: any contact will cause FF to be cancelled, and Blinx will be unharmed.
- PAUSE - Two light blue rectangles. Time Crystal - Blue crescent moon. This causes time to stop for everything in the world except Blinx. Scenery elements are frozen during PAUSE, and can be jumped on to reach hidden areas. Also, he cannot use switches and jump pads.
- REC - Green circle. Time Crystal - Green diamond. The first phase of REC is 10 seconds of 'recording' time, where Blinx is invulnerable to all damage, and can move as normal. When 10 seconds has elapsed (or Blinx has been lost to an unrecoverable environmental hazard), the world and Blinx will be rewound backwards for 10 seconds, and the same period of time will be played. During this 'playback', the actions taken by Blinx during the 'recording' will be shown as a green ghost, allowing for enhanced combat tactics to be used, or puzzles that would require two players to be solved(such as a seesaw).
- SLOW - Yellow triangle pointing to the right. Time Crystal - Yellow star. This causes time to run slowly for everything in the world except Blinx. Scenery elements are slowed during SLOW, and can be jumped on to reach hidden areas.
There is a sixth Time Control, called RETRY. This Time Control cannot be triggered manually, it is triggered automatically when Blinx is knocked out by an enemy or lost to an infinite chasm. If Blinx holds no RETRYs when he is knocked out, the game is over.
- RETRY - Red heart. Time Crystal - Red heart. RETRY causes everything in the world, including Blinx, to rewind to a point before Blinx lost a life.
Blinx can hold any combination of REW, FF, PAUSE, REC or SLOW up to the number of Time Holders he possesses. He begins with three Time Holders, but you can gain up to 10 as the game progresses. The Time Control RETRY requires a special type of Time Holder, called a Retry Holder. Blinx begins the game with three Retry Holders, but can hold up to nine (an allusion to the lore that cats have nine lives).
In each stage, Blinx must travel from the Start Gate to the Ending Gate, eliminating all Time Monsters that exist on the stage. Each level has a time limit of 10 minutes.
Blinx as a mascot
GameSpy suggests that Blinx was proposed as a possible mascot for the Xbox system, rivaling Nintendo's Mario, Sega's Sonic the Hedgehog, Sony's Crash Bandicoot, Namco's Pac-Man, and Capcom's Mega Man since the main character of Halo: Combat Evolved (Master Chief) was considered too violent (and also lacking in identity behind a visor). Due to the game's unpopularity, it never achieved the suggested goal and Master Chief is unofficially seen as the mascot, though Blinx was in fact proposed as the mascot for the Xbox in Japan for a while.
Blinx was met with a mildly positive reception upon release, as GameRankings gave it a score of 73.09%, while Metacritic gave it 71 out of 100. GameSpy included the game in its "Most Overrated Games Ever" feature. Although the graphics were generally praised, the game's execution, notably the control method, was considered to have resulted in the game being too difficult. Saleswise, by 2003, 156,000 copies were sold. In 2003, Blinx also entered the Platinum Hits range (as part of the all-age Platinum Family Hits).
GameSpot editor Greg Kasavin gave it a score of 6.3 out of 10, noting that players get a sense of relief from completing a level, rather than enjoyment or satisfaction. Electronic Gaming Monthly gave it 7.5/5.5/8: the second reviewer found the game to be tedious and repetitive, but the third believed that "issues aside, the unique style and play mechanics make [it] stand out". In Japan, Famitsu gave it a score of 31 out of 40.
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