Score:7.5 (out of 10)
The first thing you should know about Blinx is that it's probably not the kind of platformer you were expecting. Anyone coming in hoping for Mario (or Sonic) in a cat suit is going to be confused and potentially disappointed. But if you can get over the fact that Blinx isn't your standard character-based action game, you'll find that there's a lot to like about this ordinary little pussy's not-so-ordinary first adventure.
Even though Blinx is a platform game at heart, its gameplay relies more on puzzle solving and strategy than pure exploration. Each of the game's 24 levels (40 if you count boss stages) features a set number of enemies that need to be defeated within 10 minutes in order to open up the exit goal and proceed to the next area. The levels themselves are relatively small compared to most modern-day platformers, but they're filled with obstacles that require effective use of your five time powers (see sidebar) to get through before the timer hits zero. Since the resources on each stage are limited, backtracking to earlier levels to stock up on extra lives and time crystals becomes a necessity, which may be a turnoff to the more impatient players out there.
As far as gameplay is concerned, Blinx is pretty solid overall. Exploring levels and beating the clock can become quite addictive, especially when you reach the later, more challenging areas. A few things hold it back from achieving greatness, though. For starters, the camera doesn't adapt well in crowded areas. Trying to avoid three enemies at once in a tight room with deadly spikes or gaps becomes an exercise in frustration because of your erratic view. Couple this with the fact that the game's auto-aim feature tends to aim at whatever it fancieseven if it's in the opposite direction of where you're facingand you have a recipe for disaster (and broken controllers). The prize system is kind of insulting, too. The "prizes" you get for collecting hidden Cat Medals throughout the game are ridiculously lame (see the screen below), making you wonder why you even bothered to go out of your way to get them in the first place.
Visually speaking, Blinx is surprisingly pretty. Each of the eight themed worlds is bent out of shape in strange and interesting ways (because of the glitches in time that Blinx is out to clean up, you see), making for some unique-looking environments. Granted, the character designs are just a notch above roadkill on the appeal meter, but surrounded by scenery like this, even a generic cat with a vacuum manages to somehow look all right. Audio isn't bad either, with catchy, upbeat tunes that fit each area well. Of course, the fictional language that Blinx and company speak sounds like a nightmarish cross between Jar-Jar Binks and Elmo, but fortunately, you don't have to listen to it often.
All in all, the good stuff in Blinx definitely outweighs the bad, and while it may not be the "must-buy" Microsoft was hoping for, it's definitely worth checking out. They've got some rough edges to iron out, but the future potential for this little kitty is definitely high.
My first hour with Blinx was one of confusion. I was expecting something more along the lines of Mario or Jak & Daxter, but what I got was completely different. Fortunately, this turned out to be a good thing, as Blinx's strategy/puzzle-oriented gameplay ended up really hooking me. The whole time-control concept definitely adds a unique twist to the overall play experience; I just wish you were forced to use some of the cooler powers (namely Rewind and Record) more often. Boss battles are especially dull, since you basically end up using Pause every single timewhat fun is that? Still, the regular levels are the heart and soul of the game, and they're done well. The first few worlds are pretty easy, but once you start getting to the tough parts, you really start to appreciate the thought that went into each level's overall design. They force you to think about your every move in order to make it to the goal in time, which adds an extra layer of tension not usually found in games like this. You'll have to backtrack often to restock your items, but it's not as bad as it might sound. Sadly, a crummy camera and a faulty auto-aiming system put a damper on things, making some of the later levels a lot more frustrating than they need to be. This, combined with the lack of any real bonus features (no extra modes, very few cinemas, "prizes" so unintentionally lame they are laughable, etc.), gives Blinx a slightly rushed feel.
Score:5.5 (out of 10)
When did vacuuming games become a genre? I'm looking to escape household drudgery when I turn on my console, not relive it. Although, I will admit, vacuuming is more fun when you're a time-travelling cat on a mission to save the world. The heart of Blinx is clearly its time-altering effects, which add a new dimension to puzzle solving; unfortunately the "kill the baddies before time expires, then repeat" level design won't hold anyone's interest for long. And when you do finish a level, you don't even get to see the story advance. Note to developers: If your main character is a wacky time-travelling, vacuuming cat, you've got to milk the wacky angle!
Score:8 (out of 10)
One piece of advice before you play Blinx: Don't expect a Mario clone 'cause you will be disappointed. Blinx is an addictive, hardcore action-puzzler unlike any in recent memory. After the first handful of easy stages, the difficulty blasts off and the levels turn into frantic races where you've gotta budget time crystals and trash just right. Each new area takes a bit of trial and error, but once you've got it down, the game is extremely satisfying. It's not without problems: doorways frequently block the camera's view, and targeting (especially with bombs) is frustratingly hit or miss. Those issues aside, the unique style and play mechanics make Blinx stand out.