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Blinx: The Time Sweeper

''This article is on the game Blinx: The Time Sweeper. For the video and audio content Internet search engine Blinkx, see Blinkx.

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.

Introduction

Advertised as "The World's First 4D Action Game", Blinx is a third-person platform game, in which the player controls Blinx, a Time Sweeper, on his mission to prevent the end of the world. The game revolves around Blinx's (then-near-unique) Time System: Blinx is outfitted with a magical vacuum cleaner, the Time Sweeper (or TS-1000), with which he can exert some control over Time itself; slowing, speeding up, reversing or stopping its flow entirely.

Plot

In Blinx: The Time Sweeper, the player takes on the role of Blinx, an anthropomorphic cat who works at a facility known as the Time Factory. The Time Factory is a facility located outside of Time, dedicated to the creation, distribution and maintenance of the flow of all time throughout the universe. When glitches or corruptions in time are found, the Time Factory dispatches Time Sweeper agents to locate and correct them. Left unchecked, temporal glitches can manifest themselves into malevolent Time Monsters, roaming freely among dimensions, distorting everything with which they come into contact. When a gang of evil pigs known as the Tom-Tom gang begin stealing and destroying Time in dimension B1Q64, it becomes temporally unstable to the extent that the Time Sweepers decide that it is safer for all dimensions if the supply of time to B1Q64 be halted, suspending it and its inhabitants indefinitely. When Blinx receives a message from a young princess trapped within the doomed dimension, Blinx grabs his Time Sweeper and dives into dimension B1Q64 through the Sweepers' Time Portal moments before it closes.

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.

Time Controls

The Time Sweeper Blinx possess places six different Time Controls at his disposal. Five of these time controls are based on controls commonly found on VCRs and the sixth, RETRY, is unique.

To gain Time Controls, Blinx must first collect Time Crystals. The Time Crystals appear as shining, floating, spinning crystals in the game world. Blinx can collect the Time Crystals in any order, but when he possesses four at once, they are converted into Time Controls. If Blinx holds three of a particular Crystal, he gains one use of that Time Control. If Blinx holds four of a particular Crystal, he gains two uses of that Time Control. Other combinations are discarded.

Time Controls are stored in the Time Sweeper, up to the maximum number of Time Holders Blinx possesses. Blinx must have a Time Control use in his possession in order to activate it.

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 can't 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 where Blinx should be safe.

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).

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 and Sony's Crash Bandicoot (character), 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 seen, unofficially, as the mascot.

Blinx was seen in the "You are watching..." bumper that appeared after every show on the Nickelodeon GAS network.

Reception

Blinx received decent reception by critics and public. Reviews were, for the most part, average , and GameSpy even 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 fair rating, noting that players get a sense of relief from completing a level, rather than enjoyment or satisfaction.

External links

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