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Blinx: The Time Sweeper

Score: 85%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Developer: Artoon
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Miscellaneous

Graphics & Sound:

'Only on Xbox'

If you go through your game collection, you're likely to find at least one game that sports this logo. While it may come off as a rather flashy way to denote exclusivity, on Blinx this moniker becomes much more. Despite what many Xbox detractors may say, Blinx really is a game that can only be done on the Xbox due to its unique use of the Xbox's internal hard drive.

Blinx is a graphical powerhouse. Sporting bright, vibrant color, amazing lighting effects and rich details, Blinx rivals even the graphical powerhouse Halo for the title 'Best looking game on the system'. Each of the game's worlds is phenomenal and look almost real - especially when compared to the more cartoon looking Blinx. I was especially impressed with the amount of detail Artoon, the developer, was able to cram into each level. In addition to the standard details such as water reflections and falling snow/rain, the details in Blinx go so far as to feature cracks in the walls and pavement.

In contrast to the realistic world, Blinx looks more like what you would expect to find in a mascot platformer. He is also one of the scariest mascots to come along in awhile. Just one look at his creepy green eyes or sharp toothed grin is enough to give most people an uneasy shiver down their spine. Because of this, it's really hard to embrace Blinx as you would a Mario or Sonic, until you see him in motion. Once again, Artoon went all out on the details giving him a vast array of animations. As a bonus, he can also purchase new outfits, giving him even more variety in his look.

Of course, all of the detail does come at a price, namely at the expense of the frame rate. Although most of the time, the game runs very smoothly and without a hitch, once a few enemies get on the screen, there is a noticeable drop in speed.

The sound effects leave much to be desired. Enemies are relatively silent and the only sound you'll ever hear Blinx make is a half-hearted, painful to hear, meow. The rest of the sounds get the job done, but it's obvious they didn't receive the same amount of attention as the graphics, which seems like a waste of the game's 5.1 Dolby Digital support. I was impressed with the music, however, mostly because every level has its own score. As cool as this is, it does become repetitive.


On the surface, Blinx looks like a typical platform game. There's the unlikely hero, ruthless gang of enemies (in this case, the Tom Tom Gang - a group of hover-cycle riding pigs), and a kidnapped princess. But the similarities to Mario end here.

Until now, the Xbox's hard drive has been little more than the world's largest memory card and hasn't been the revolution Microsoft claimed it to be. Blinx is one of the first games to come along and show people what that big ole' memory card can be used for. For lack of a better description, Blinx is 'Tivo - the game'. Every move you make in the game is stored on the Xbox's hard drive. Don't believe me? Check out the full replays at the end of each level. Of course, this isn't the real reason it's done, but it's still cool. The true innovation comes with the ability to manipulate time.

By collecting time crystals, Blinx can use time control powers:

  • Rewind: This rewinds an event that has just happened. For example, if a box falls from a high area, Blinx can jump on the box, hit rewind, and ride the box to the area it just fell from.
  • Record: Allows Blinx to record an action for a few seconds. After making the recording, a 'phantom' Blinx appears performing the action you just recorded. This allows for multiple Blinx (Blinxes?) to appear on the screen at any one time (and yes, the 'phantoms' can do damage).
  • Slow-Motion: This is basically a Matrix-type effect where everything in the level slows down.
  • Pause: Stop everything.
  • Fast-Forward: This makes everything run faster than normal and although cool, it is rarely used.

Every level can be manipulated with Blinx's time control ability. The trick is that he is never affected by his own ability, allowing him to explore the area at normal speed while the rest of the world is running in slow-motion or while the entire area is paused. Adding another layer to an already complex system, if Blinx dies, he can also rewind to a moment seconds before his death in order to avoid it. Just seeing how many different uses there are for this ability is enough to make your eyes go cross. For example, in order to get to the top of a cliff, you may have to record yourself jumping on a see-saw then resume normal play time in order to have your recorded self launch you into the air.

The trick to using Blinx's abilities is that you can't stockpile a collection of Time Gems. Instead, he is only allowed to carry four gems at any one time, adding yet another dimension to the game's already deep gameplay requiring you to figure out which time powers are needed in each level and which are thrown in as a red herring.

Level-layout is pretty standard as far as platform games go. In order to proceed to the next level, you need to beat the previous one. Once you beat a level, you can go back and replay it at anytime. At first this doesn't seem like a big deal, but this can become one of the most important aspects of the game. Some levels have areas that can only be accessed by more powerful Time Sweepers (Blinx's vacuum-like weapon) which you can buy between levels. Finding these areas not only allows you to collect all of the game's secrets, but it is the only way to restock on 'Replay Hearts', Time Gems, and acquire enough gold to buy the pricey, high-end equipment available at the shop.


Blinx is a learning process. You will die. You will restart levels. You will die a few more times. You will restart even more levels. As you play through Blinx you are liable to run through more swear words than a ship full of sailors and quite possibly invent a few of your own. With that said, Blinx is still an extremely fun game. I can't say this is the most fun I've ever had with a game, but there is such a high level of challenge you want to keep playing like you have something to prove to the game. Yeah, it's really weird to say that, but there are times when you feel like the game is mocking and taunting you; making it that much sweeter when you finally beat a tough level.

Game Mechanics:

Blinx isn't the easiest game to control. Aiming the Time Sweeper is a big pain and quickly becomes one of the more frustrating areas of the game. Instead of allowing the player to independently move the Time Sweeper, sucking and shooting trash is handled with a system that targets the closest enemy. This leads to multiple aiming problems, especially when trying to hit flying enemies. Blinx also suffers from some major speed problems and I'm not just talking about the choppy frame rate. Blinx is just - well, slow, making traveling in levels a bore. As the game progresses and you are presented with more to do, you don't notice the lack of speed, but it is very noticeable when you have to backtrack in areas.

Activating time powers is as easy as holding down the B button. After pressing the button, the game pauses and a menu comes up asking which time power you want to use. Selecting an ability turns the screen a different color and brings up a timer to let you know how much time you have before reverting to normal time. After the power runs out, the game pauses in order to help you prepare you for the drop back into normal time.

The camera system is terrible, even with the ability to manually adjust it with the right thumb stick. To make matters worse, even when you are trying to adjust the camera, its not always very cooperative and often decides that it like its camera view better than the one that is easier for you. See what I meant about the game mocking and taunting you? Overall, Blinx is still an excellent platformer and a great entry for the Xbox's lineup. This is one of the few games that really shows what the Xbox can do and helps to set the system apart from the others. Although it suffers from control and camera problems, it's still extremely fun and worthwhile title for anyone's Xbox library.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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