Game Over Online ~ Blender Bros.

GameOver Game Reviews - Blender Bros. (c) Infogrames, Reviewed by - Fwiffo

Game & Publisher Blender Bros. (c) Infogrames
System Requirements Game Boy Advance
Overall Rating 85%
Date Published Thursday, June 27th, 2002 at 09:28 PM

Divider Left By: Fwiffo Divider Right

Being a critic as opposed to a buying consumer is markedly different. A critic has no choice but to take a look at each title assigned to him or herself. A consumer, on the other hand, has the luxury of skipping the ones that are potential yawners or ones they expect to be bad. On the GBA platform, you're looking at two platform games per every other type of game being released. Someone once e-mailed me asking how I can survive the onslaught of mediocre, value-oriented titles. My reply was: an interesting and innovative title will usually keep me perked up to weather through the other uninspiring ones. Blender Bros. is one such title.

By definition, a platform game on the GBA tends to move from left to right. Blender is no different: you have a variety of stages, set on different colored worlds with over the top artwork. Enemies particular to each locale are sprinkled throughout and traps are laid to bait the unsuspecting gamer. At the end of each world is a boss, whose defeat will open up newer worlds, with more bosses waiting at the end of the tunnel. Blender has all this but there is a sense of care and polish that really differentiates this from the multitude games based on a similar, if not exactly same premise. Its graphics are cute. Its color is vibrant. And its subject matter is exuberant. Blender, the protagonist in this game, may not be as memorable as Crash Bandicoot, Sonic or Mario but he's not a carbon copy of those franchises either.

The platform sequence in Blender does not defy the genre, but they are done well. They're not particularly frustrating since there's no need to backtrack to find obscure switches or repeat a frivolous exercise many times to jump over a chasm. The GBA platform's small screen size exasperates the left-right monotony of platform games. That's why most games on more powerful consoles have gone 3D. While some developers don't accommodate for that fault, the level design here utilizes the vertical as much as the horizontal space.

Someone on the development team of Blender must have been paying attention during the drawing board process. Sprinkled throughout Blender is a set of rally-style racing games that really don't have much to do with the game other than to provide a break in between stages. There's also a variety of mini-games that are playable with a GBA link cable (with only one cartridge too). The 'brothers' moniker in the title is significant because Blender introduces the concept of sidekicks. We've seen them before; with Tails and Sonic. But Blender allows you to customize and grow yours, which reminded me a lot of the ones found in Phantasy Star Online. Each companion empowers you and half of them are hidden away in the platform stages themselves. The other half are available for purchasing at a store you can access between levels.

Remember those rings you collected in Sonic games? In Blender, you collect bones but these bones can be used towards purchasing things from the store in between games. That's a small but innovative thing to add to a platform game. By adding fun and functionality to a predictable formula, these small innovations are the factors that make Blender so polished compared to its dime a dozen competitors. Once you're done honing your sidekick, you can even transfer it to one of you friends via the GBA link cable.

While the visuals here are not as good as, for example, Nintendo's own Mario games, there's still a lot to like. Typical of Japanese games, the music and sound effects are charming while the radial style interfaces in between stages is different, maybe even a little radical. My only complaint is its inability to break out of the overseas tendency to squeeze long pieces of dialogue into a two line dialogue box, especially since the translators tend to have a flare for over-dramatic use of ellipses. Clearly, some intelligent thought and care can still infuse fun into a tried-and-true genre; kind of like what automakers have been trying (but failing) to do with the minivan. The sum of all the parts adds up to an exuberant package. Now all it needs is a bow to rocket it to franchise status.


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