Xbox Game Pass is one of the best things that has happened to gaming in years, especially when the arrival of the PS5 has seen Sony bump its blockbuster prices to the point where a single game is now a big investment. With its affordable subscription fee and the relatively low cost of an Xbox Series S, Microsoft is ensuring the new generation of consoles isn’t leaving people behind. Now, Game Pass has given us our greatest gift yet – Blinx is back.
It’s not just cheap fodder or first-party exclusives, either. Outriders launched on Game Pass on day one, as did the Sony-produced MLB: The Show. Every Xbox exclusive is free on Game Pass at launch too, while a mix of indie sleeper hits and forgotten cult gems are getting a new lease of life on the service. I could talk about the benefits of Game Pass all day, but I’m not here to talk about that – I’m here to talk about Blinx.
Blinx arrived with a simple mission – he was here to kill Mario and Sonic. To be blunt, he failed. What’s even more interesting is, as a game that released in 2002, surely his platforming rivals would have been Crash and Spyro rather than Sonic, especially with the pair ripe for the picking after the so-so Wrath of Cortex and the banal Enter the Dragonfly. At any rate, Blinx tried to change the platforming landscape and failed miserably.
Blinx is a crucial slice of gaming history, although it’s entirely possible you’ve never heard of him. That talk about Xbox’s failing exclusives earlier was important, because Blinx laid the groundwork for all that. Sure, Sea of Thieves turned it around and the early Halo and Gears games were masterpieces, but Xbox has more than a few rough exclusives in its history, though none as interesting as Blinx.
Blinx and you’ll miss it.
Microsoft has not created Xbox Game Pass entirely out of the goodness of its heart. While its studio acquisitions are beginning to bear fruit, Xbox undoubtedly lost the last generation. While Sony gave us The Last of Us Part 2, Uncharted 4, Ghost of Tsushima, God of War, Persona 5, and Spider-Man (to name but a few), Microsoft had Sea of Thieves, Gears 5, Forza, and Sunset Overdrive. Considering Sony now owns the latter thanks to its purchase of Insomniac – with Sunset Overdrive then laying the groundwork for both Spidey games and Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart – the Xbox exclusive picture looks even bleaker. A few years down the line, when Redfall, Starfield, Perfect Dark, and Avowed are in our hands, maybe gaming will be a clash of the titans once more, with the two consoles going head to head with triple-A killer apps. For now though, Xbox is cultivating a different sort of playerbase, and it’s refreshing to see.
But as I just mentioned, this was around the time when Wrath of Cortex and Enter the Dragonfly came out. The N.Sane and Reignited trilogies were over, while Ratchet & Clank and Jak and Daxter had just appeared as platforming mascots for a new generation. Mario was fresh off the release of his most experimental game ever in Super Mario Sunshine, while Sega put out the polarising and confused Sonic Heroes. There was a change in the air. Platformers were going through a transition, and nobody could figure out what they would look like by the end of it. Blinx could smell this change, and it sensed its opportunity to seize the genre by the scuff of the neck. It failed, but it failed gloriously. It was a valiant, spectacular failure, and when Blinx joins Game Pass, it deserves to have that wonderful failure experienced all over again.
How the game plays is largely irrelevant, but if you really want to know, Blinx billed itself as ‘The World’s First 4D Action Game’ – I have no idea what that meant then and less idea now. For 4D movies, you watch it in 3D then your seat moves in time with the action. This does not happen with Blinx, unless you want to stand in your living room and jump up and down with him, although I suppose you could have done this with any game you wanted to. Side note: it’s not worth it at the cinema either. I’ve been conned twice, so do not make my mistake.
Beyond the marketing buzzwords though, what it essentially meant is that Blinx could control time – he is The Time Sweeper, after all. This meant slowing time down, speeding time up, recording a moment in time, reversing time, and stopping time entirely, all in service of a war against some evil pigs. That sounds kind of rubbish, and it is – but it’s the best rubbish. The sort of rubbish you absolutely need to be a part of. When it joins Game Pass, grab yourself a little slice of gaming history.