Blue's Journey gives you a heaping helping of wasted potential with a generous side of crummy graphics.
- The music gives off a Sonic the Hedgehog vibe.
- The levels look and feel repetitive
- Blue's weapons aren't diverse enough, and his shrink ability is nearly useless
- The characters are tiny, and the same background tiles are recycled constantly
- Nine dollars is a rip-off considering how crummy the game is.
One glance at Blue's Journey may suggest cute side-scrolling fun. Don't be fooled. If you're unlucky enough to play it for yourself, you'll discover that Blue's Journey is just a repetitive run-and-jump action game that frequently resembles the sort of home brew that was prolific on the PC in the early 1990's.
There's nothing wrong with the basic design. As Blue--or two Blues, if you convince another player to join you--you have to save the Raguy kingdom from the invading Daruma Empire in typical 2D-action fashion. You jump between platforms, slap enemies with your leaf weapon, and battle a boss every couple of levels. Pouncing on enemies or hitting them with your leaf stuns them. A second whack will send most enemies flying off the screen, or you can pick them up and throw them into other enemies. Different weapon pickups increase the range of your leaf or let you use projectiles, such as boomerangs and honeypot bombs. There are dozens of levels, which are filled with optional paths and hidden shops that will sell you health items or warp you ahead.
You can also shrink Blue to miniscule size at the touch of a button. He loses his attack capability, but he can fit into tiny passages and jump twice as high. This comes in handy for finding flower stashes, which gives you more flower bucks to spend in shops. It's also handy for grabbing the top-of-the-bell-plant thing that waits at the end of some levels and rewards you with bonus points for your leaping efforts.
This stuff sounds solid in theory, but the pieces aren't fashioned into a decent game. You're constantly fighting the same enemies and the weapons don't really vary all that much. The levels also employ the same lengthy expanses of land interspersed with predictable pitfalls and crushers. Blue's shrink ability is neat, but it's only required in a couple of spots. Depending on the paths you take, you may never have to use it at all. Worst of all, the bosses, though they look different, all feel the same. You jump over their projectiles, stun smaller enemies, and throw those smaller enemies into the boss until it's defeated.
Blue's world doesn't look too good, either. Bear in mind, Blue's Journey was originally made to run on the Neo Geo, a 16-bit arcade system known for multilayered backdrops and screens filled with dozens of massive character sprites. Blue and his enemies are barely more than two inches tall on an average-sized television while the backgrounds are put together with carbon-copied tiles that are heavily recycled. Some of the jungle backdrops are lush, but climbing up hills made of the same brown tiles and running across platforms made up entirely of gray bricks is a complete buzz kill. The animation is choppy and repetitive too. Overall, the graphics give the impression that amateur programmers put the game together using a limited pre-fab construction set in their spare time.
Just about the only good things that can be said about Blue's Journey are that the cartoon-style vocal sound effects are nice. The music is also an excellent collection of tunes that are highly reminiscent of the soundtrack Sega concocted for its Sonic the Hedgehog games. Of course, you'd be crazy to shell out 900 Wii points ($9) to bring home this stinker just because the music is good. And don't try to foist it on the children in the house. Despite the kid-friendly looks and unlimited continues, the game's repetitive nature plus shoddy presentation will have them pressing the home button then searching for something else to play within minutes.