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Retrospective: Blinx: The Time Sweeper • Page 2

Waste of time.

The platforming is ghastly, made worse by a malevolent camera that seems to have been designed to point in the opposite direction to anything you need to see. Midway through attacking an enemy it will literally swing around 180 degrees to face nothing at all. Jumping across gaps is pure luck. And re-angling the camera for yourself is a giant pain, since the controls to do so are set to the wrong direction, with no option to switch them over. It's like when a platform game reverses your controls, but for the entire game.

Getting killed is common, too. Most games, when starting a level, will offer the character their health. But not Blinx. If he's at death's door, he stays at death's door until you either buy some more health at great expense or manage to collect the time crystals necessary to get an extra heart. Otherwise you just restart the level with nothing, again and again. Which brings me smoothly into discussing the game's most wantonly stupid feature: those time crystals.

Blinx has a number of time controls at his disposal. He can pause, slow, rewind, fast-forward and record. The first two are self explanatory. Rewind lets you reverse time where an object has fallen, perhaps temporarily rebuilding a bridge. Fast-forward gives you a brief protective shield, and lets you complete a part of a level in less time, if you're chasing such things. Record lets you play for a few seconds and then rewind to the point where you started, and where the recorded version of Blinx will repeat the action as you get on with something else.

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After playing it, I'm now on the green blobs' side.

None of those is a bad thing! Gosh - can you imagine how much fun a platform game would be with such powers? Except Blinx seems to go out of its way to ensure you won't.

To acquire the ability to do one of these things, you must first gather at least three correspondingly colour-coded time crystals. You have four slots, so either get four of the same for two of the power, or fill the fourth slot with a disposed random. Pick up three different crystals, or two and two, and you've wasted the lot. In fact, pick up three different ones and you have to waste a fourth to clear the slots.

While occasionally the game will drop necessary crystals for a particular task near its location, that's no guarantee you'll be able to use them. Picking crystals up occurs when you walk over them, and since they splash out all over the place when you kill an enemy, it's impossible not to gather those you're not after accidentally. Because health is included in this muddle, in the form of another heart-shaped RETRY Crystal, you're inevitably searching for those and then screaming in frustration as you walk over the completely pointless bountiful supply of purple RECs.

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To think, he nearly became the mascot of the original Xbox.

Then it turns out you needed those RECs to open the nearby door, but you lost them because two of them clogged up your attempt to get a RETRY, so now you have to backtrack to find more bloody REC crystals. And if there aren't any? You have to restart the entire level. Although, if you're backtracking, the chances are you'll be restarting anyway, because for absolutely no reason whatsoever, the damned thing only gives you 10 minutes for each level. Exceed that and you're dumped back at the start, forced to repeat everything yet again. Oh, it's so miserable.

It looks lovely, as it happens. But there's no intelligence here. The monsters are frequently the exact same colour as the backgrounds, so you don't know they're there until they've killed you. And the enemy design is often inspired. It's hard not to enjoy the sight of a land-flopping giant green fish with outer space in its mouth. Until the game arses up and gets you killed, and you have to fight it for a third time and you hate it hate it hate it.

So that's Blinx then. A game that truly deserves to be forgotten forever, thus giving Prince of Persia the position as being the first action-adventure with time manipulation that it deserves.

Let forth the slew of comments pointing out the action-adventures that included time manipulation before Blinx.

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