GAME REVIEWS

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Aoi Blink (Blue Blink)

~ BLUE BLINK ~
Hudson Soft / NHK Enterprise
HuCard
1990

Blue Blink doesn't merely fall in line with other cartoony platformers from the 16-bit era, and you won't have to look far to find the one element that most serves to make it stand out. Rather than assuming the role of a solitary goofball, you control a band of three yahoos (automatically selected from a party of five for each level). The leader at a given time determines the leaping ability possessed and the type of shot employed by the entire group. While I at once found the concept intriguing, I wasn't immediately pleased with how it's executed, as switching out leaders requires you to stop whatever you're doing in the midst of battle and cycle through candidates via the Select trigger. And with each character being deficient in some way (for the sake of distinction within the group), I wasn't sure I'd ever really take a liking to any of them. But before long I came to appreciate the unique attributes of each flawed hero, from the boomerang-tossing crook to the high-jumping princess.



You won't proceed in the traditional stage-by-stage manner in Blue Blink. There are five realms for you to explore, and each one contains a number of secret-laden sub-levels, most of which aren't accessible right off the bat. You'll have to find a special key to gain access to the lair of a land's leader, and there are plenty of other goodies to nab as you hunt.



Once you do unlock the portal to a boss's den, the head honcho of your little fellowship will hop atop his trusty blue steed for a showdown with a giant (or two). These encounters are the only instances when the action is at all challenging.



Blue Blink's parallax-devoid visuals don't quite rise to the level of excellence that its Shinichi Sakamoto-composed soundtrack attains, but in their simplicity, they do a fine job of complementing the straightforward gameplay.



It wouldn't be absurd to mention BB during a discussion about elite HuCards; it's a hell of a lot of fun to play and has plenty of neat things going for it. But it falls just short of being special in my view, as I can't help but ponder what it might have been with vast Mario World-type stages as opposed to linear strips that call for you simply to shoot anywhere and everywhere to uncover the essential secrets. So greatness eludes BB, but that it even warrants consideration for admittance to such company speaks volumes, and it's certainly worth a play if you're at all into platformers.

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