Preview: Blinx 2: Masters of Time & Space (XB)

Publisher: Microsoft / Developer: Artoon / Genre: Action / Release Date: 11/16/2004

The cat is back from the past. Or did he just come from the future? In any case, Microsoft Games Studios is producing a sequel to the first Blinx game made exclusively for the Xbox. In an effort to improve from the first Blinx they have brought Japan-based Artoon, Co. Ltd, back again to create Blinx 2: Masters of Time and Space.

If you’re not at all familiar with the original game, Blinx is a time janitor who uses his vacuum cleaner to destroy time monsters and collect crystals that allow him to change how time operates. Just like any universal remote he can slow down time, pause, review, fast-forward and record in various combinations. The Blinx series is unique because it actually utilizes the Xbox hard drive to store a memory of your game. This allows you as a player to move through levels that have a memory of what you’ve already done. Since a lot of the game is puzzling your way through levels this can be very handy or just very very confusing.

Blinx is back! And moreâ┚¬Â¦ err, Blinxier than ever.

Trying to listen to any feedback from avid gamers, Artoon made quite a few changes from the original Blinx. Instead of collecting time crystals in a specific(and difficult) order to allow you your time powers, they’ve created a system where you can store your crystals and use them as you need them. This means that you can manipulate time more often than before. Also there are no more difficult camera angles and fighting off creatures you can’t even view on your screen. They’ve developed the game to allow for a smarter user-interface where you have more control over the camera.

So what if you’re just not a cat person? Can’t stand cleaning out the litter box or dealing with the occasional hairball? Blinx: 2 has an answer for every cat hater. What better enemy for a cat than a dog? I mean… pig. Yeah, I’m not kidding here. The pigs are back with an attitude that you can unleash in your game. They can’t manipulate time the way the cats can, but the pigs have a way of controlling space. Maybe that’s why the Big Bad Wolf decided to stop huffing and puffing and go after Little Red Riding Hood instead.

The pigs and cats battle it out. Now you can pick your side!

The pigs can play tricks with warp tunnels and plant booby traps like banana peels to get in the way of enemies. The missions that the pigs deal with concentrate more on stealth and secrecy. You can skulk around with ninja-like powers, hide in shadows and avoid patrols. The space controls only come in handy if you find yourself in sticky situations. However, if you’re planning on trading in Splinter Cell for this game, I’d think again. I bet Sam Fisher could probably teach these pigs a lesson or two in stealth.

For the co-operative player in all of us, there are multi-player levels where the cats and pigs work in unison towards a singular goal. There are battle modes as well if you’re just in the mood to go head-to-head. There’s no real online play. My guess is, because of the game’s unique ability to take information from the hard drive and process it back into the game, it would take up too much bandwidth to make online play a reality. The best that Xbox Live can offer in the case of this game is a scoreboard to compare your results with other players.

Another feature new for Blinx 2 is the ability to customize your character. Regardless of whether you’re a cat or a pig you can dress up and colorize yourself into an array of creative options. But let’s be realistic here and call a spade a spade. You may decide that purple’s your color, but you still look pretty much like a pig.

Design your character will detail rivaling some MMORPGS.

To me, Blinx 2: Masters of Time & Space may be a desperate try at a sequel to a game that wasn’t well received in the first place. My trouble with the game is that I can’t pin-point the specific demographic that they are shooting for. I do know that Microsoft Games Studio is trying to get a wedge into the Japanese game market. That might be why they selected a Japanese developer that is utilizing a unique quality of the Xbox(ie: the hard drive) to sell over in Japan. Once you get past that novelty, I begin to wonder where the game content begins. Then again, it is just a demo. Maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised when the game is released. I just have a hard time believing that Blinx will be the next spokes-character for a major gaming studio. He’s no Sonic, Crash, or Mario.