The TurboMento-12: Blue Blink

On the very last day of September, it's time for a new TurboMento-12! I'm going way, way off the beaten path today with Westone's Blue Blink. It's a game with some pedigree, as Westone are the developers behind Sega's super popular (well, 20 years ago) Wonder Boy series, and Blue Blink itself is adapted from the very last anime Osamu Tezuka ever worked on, about a boy, a magical blue donkey and their ragtag group of friends searching for the boy's kidnapped father. So, yeah, it's a 16-bit anime license platformer. But a good one!

I want to thank the translators Gaijin Productions and Zatos Hacks for creating the English patch. There isn't a whole lot of text in the game, but when searching for TG16 stuff to cover I figured if someone bothered to translate something it's probably worth playing. Blue Blink certainly got some curious ideas and looks fantastic for a game that pre-dates the Super Nintendo. But hey, why don't we just have a series of consecutive images do the talking? And then maybe I do some more talking underneath them in the captions?

Blue Blink and You'll Miss It

Welcome to Blue Blink! That's Kakeru and Blink there, bestest pals. One's a nigh-omnipotent magical creature from space and the other is some kid in a hat. Guess which one we're playing as!
Oh hey there, Blues Brothers. Sorry this couldn't wait until after you changed out of your jammies, but it's 106 miles to Chicago and we're running out of cigarettes.
So we're looking at regular old anime platformer territory for right now, but almost immediately we start seeing its odd quirks. For instance, with ledges this close together in height, the character will automatically hop up them. Saves on mashing the jump button, and even has tactical applications way later in the game.
Here's some kind of armadillo that is minding its own business, so I'll demonstrate how to kill things: your dude has throwing stars, and whenever he fires his two followers fire as well like options in Gradius. Because they follow the main character with a slight delay, you can create walls of projectiles like this. The spread's definitely useful.
Holy crap, these are some angry little gnomes. Guess they've finally had enough of getting jammed into rockets. You guys should count the lucky ninja stars being thrown at your face that you aren't Kerbals.
Quirk number 3: Those stairs lead up to a different level. They're right in the middle of this one, though, which means I'll have to drop back in and repeat all that jumping if I want to unlock the stage's other exit, Super Mario World style.
But don't take my word for it? Most stages end with an NPC who gives out advice if you didn't figure it out yourself. Not sure why we're invading people's homes, but then I do have two convicted felons with me.
So this is what the world map looks like. Any stage with more than one exit (and one entrance) has a branching path. Generally speaking, it's easy to find the fastest route to the boss, but there's issues with this. I'll expound on those a little later, but let's just say it pays to explore.
A power-up! This game has all sorts of things to pick up. Most of it is cash, but you'll find temporary boosts like this feather here. It makes you move faster, which isn't necessarily a good thing.
More alternate paths. Don't like the look of those logs? Then just wuss out.
I've been reliably informed that a red key is in here, and it's apparently necessary to unlock the door to the boss. This is problem one with taking the quick "go as the crow flies" approach to the end level.
This stage is interesting because it loops. If I keep heading right, I'll end up at the top where that boulder is. (Oh, the guy in the cap is Tanba, by the way. He drives the bus you can see on the world map.)
And with the magic of screenshots, was it so. The red key is usually hidden within a pot, which are invisible until you hit it accidentally. Good thing I'm sweeping everything with these projectiles.
Anyway, with red key in tow, we can reach the final boss in this last stage of Rose Town. We're going across the rooftops Tenchu style.
Or maybe Ninja Gaiden style, considering how many of these annoying birds there are.
If you happen to fall off, Blink shows up to save you. However, there's a limited number of times he can do this. So it's like a cross between a life system and Elika from Prince of Persia.
This is what the end of the final stage looks like. Without the red key to open that locked door on the right, the only option is to take the left door which just drops you back on the world map.
First boss is this horrible Aztec thing with a permanent expression of horror. All boss fights are fought on Blink's back, since he's apparently the only one that can damage the big guys.
After a few dozen hits, dodging up and down this ziggurat that has no doubt seen thousands of human sacrifices to appease this terrifying monster, it finally falls off the screen and explodes. I jump the dancing jumps of victory, like the brutal oppressive Conquistador that I am.
This girl was standing right here the whole time and then has the temerity to insult my contribution to that mighty battle? Somehow suggesting I spent the entire time sitting on my ass? Mayhaps these people grow too bold without their angry god around to punish them.

In Part 2, the game decides to get serious. Or at least as serious as an anime about a magical blue donkey with pink hair can get, which turns out to be very. No worries though, because I finally discover a few things that make the game a lot more manageable.

The TurboMento-12
January - Ninja SpiritMay - Bonk's AdventureSeptember - Blue Blink
February - Dungeon ExplorerJune - Gekisha BoyOctober -
March - The Legendary AxeJuly - Genji Tsuushin AgedamaNovember -
April - NeutopiaAugust - Bloody WolfDecember -
3 Comments
3 Comments
Posted by Video_Game_King

Comment time!

  • I still don't have much of a clue what the hell's going on in this game.
  • Is there a concept page for "horizontally scrolling wrap-around levels"? Because I know this isn't the only game to include this.
  • I would've gone for a Beat reference, myself.
  • It always makes me sad to see a typo in a fan translation. Tear Ring Saga alone had me downing Zoloft like it was a fruity cereal.
Edited by Mento

@video_game_king:

  • All shall be explained! I hope. I forgot to cap the opening scrawl (it takes ages for the attract mode to switch on), but they're just rescuing hat kid's dad.
  • If you include spiral levels too, sure. Castelian was based on that idea, and Skyblazer had a few too.
  • Oh, for the occasional rescue? Blink's actually a bit more versatile. I've hopefully remembered to screencap it in action.
  • If you're talking about the missing apostrophe for "it's", that's a running thing with this game. The translators must've not bothered including the apostrophe character for whatever reason.

Back in a Blue Blink

Here's the next town, Ivory Castle. Hopefully we can pick up some Sliders, I'm starving.
Okay, I already know this stage is going to be bullshit.
Yep, it is. Of course, I would later find an easier solution to all these big jumps. Anyone who has played this game is probably yelling it at me. Fortunately, I don't think anyone has.
NPCs have hinted that the red key is in this Jungle Gym level. Of course, I have no idea where, but shooting at every pixel of every screen is part of the fun.
In a chameleon twist, the level has an early exit. I know not to tarry around here though, because the key is going to be further away and it's the only reason I'm here on this rickety-ass death trap.
Well, I've reached the other exit and there's absolutely nothing. Wait a second...
Aha! (P.S. This was not the right pot.)
Oh, now you tell me. At the end of the stage.
Oh fuck you.
FUUUUCK YOOOOU.
Well, after that unfortunate outburst, we're ready to head to this giant fountain to give the boss what for.
Not really a whole lot of fountain here, just all these articulated spines sticking out of the ground. Cheerful.
Oh what the hell is this? I was murdered almost instanter by these giant alien tapeworms.
So this is where I start to learn some hard truths about this game. You want to do all the stages because all the items you can find will maximize your chances against the boss - each boss from here on is no pushover.
Lesson number 2 is that it's important to collect all this cash lying around: rather than give you extra lives when you hit 100 (or being able to spend them somewhere, which was my first guess), you get an extra heart to play around with. (By the by, you want to avoid those poison bottles. Your health will slowly drain until you exit the level, and it doesn't come back between levels. I don't like them much.)
Finding keys lets you open chests, which occasionally have these little orb things which actually do increase your lives, or at least the blue donkey currency equivalent. Doing so will... wait, your fireplace? What?
Okay, so this is what happens when you access the fireplace. I don't know what lady was burning, but whatever was in those fumes is starting to kick in. This appears to be a bonus stage, since there's no enemies and lots of treasure to collect. The screen scrolls across very quickly, though, so we can't Dali.
Poison jars just straight up knock a whole chunk of your health off. Not quite as bad as the other type of poison. Why does this game have two discrete types of poison collectible? This is for kids, right?

Anyway, by discovering what the gold does and why it is prudent to explore everywhere - you can even re-enter the same levels to grind gold if you want, though most high value collectibles don't return - I managed to bulk up my health a bit and take out that worm boss. Inconceivably, there are still two really important discoveries to make that I somehow blanked (Blinked?) on until halfway through the game. Either I was half asleep, or this game is deeper than it looks.

Check it out in Part 3:

On The Blue Blink of Death

Welcome to Yellow Town! Don't drink the water.
Well, this place seems overly negative.
I think these are moles. What I do know for sure is that I don't care for how hard they are to hit. They stay up for half a second, throw a hammer that will block your shots and then sneak underground again.
I had to visit that happy totem pole location on the map. Look at all these grinning guys! Unfortunately, it appears that this is Blue Blink's equivalent of Aquatic Ruin Zone. I hated those arrows.
I'm skipping ahead a bit here. Most of these stages are fairly straightforward, and you don't want to see me hunt for the key again.
If I thought the last boss was tough, this guy is insane. It's very easy to get trapped in a corner, and due to the game's lack of an invulnerability grace period it means losing around half of your health bar if you're lucky. Best to keep your distance from this guy, if possible. The platform layers make it a bit easier (you don't hit down and jump to drop to a lower platform in this, just down. It really simplifies things).
Rainbow Road already, huh? After that last boss I'm prepared for anything.
Including these adorable turtles! Free tip: The red key is hidden above the fourth lamp. I know this because an NPC told me at the end of the stage, necessitating a do-over.
Of course, this stage has two parts: We're now inside the circus tent you saw on the world map. Lots of these fun precarious jumps.
These platforms are spiked, so you get poked very easily trying to jump across them.
So here's where I made an incredible discovery that the game actually told me about ages ago: You can switch your main character! That's why you're getting followed by a pair of friends in each stage. The short thief guy is a crappy jumper, but has a spread shot instead of the horizontal ninja stars. So this game just became Super Mario Bros 2.
Tanba's as slow as Thief 1, but throws these red balls out in an arc that makes it much easier to find hidden pots.
The taller thief guy throws out boomerangs that quickly cover half the screen and return. Good for crowds.
It appears I've just entered the prison level of Silent Hill. Stay toasty folks.
No wait, I guess this is World 3-1 of Demon's Souls.
With my skillful screen capturing skills, I managed to screencap Rainbow Town's boss mid-blink. It's the black blob in the middle of the screen, but it normally looks like a cartoon ghost. Like the previous boss, it's important to dodge him as he whizzes around and then try to sneak a few hits in before he flies off.
Well this is definitely ominous. (N.B. Gurosu is the romaji spelling of the final boss's real name: Emperor Gross.)

Here's the Finale:

Blue Blunk

Just gotta break through these Cecil-a-likes. There's no branching paths in the last world, just a consecutive series of tough levels. It's a bit like Super Mario Bros. 3 in this regard. And in many other regards, for that matter.
Aww, look at these angry pink clouds. Even on the final stage, this game is too cute for its own good.
Hey look, miniaturized versions of the first boss!
So while this lady delivers the mindblowing revelation that the game has a difficulty curve, I'll let you in on another tip: If you pause the game and hit the "run" button, you can sacrifice a Blink token to get full health. If you let yourself just run out of health, though, he'll only recover half the health bar. It's a clever risk/reward system.
Why does the big evil guy have a chapel on his doorstep? I figured big evil Emperor types didn't go for that God business. Well, besides occasionally wanting to turn into one.
So this is it, the final stage. To make things a little more suspenseful, this is actually more like three whole stages in one.
These many enemy anemones emanate fish bones at us. You need to cull their numbers, or there'll be projectiles everywhere.
The next part of the stage has this Arabian Nights theme for whatever reason. I don't recall seeing palm trees and sand dunes outside, so I imagine they're just painted on.
In a truly dickish move, the game starts randomly dropping the little moons and suns from the top of the screen while simultaneously introducing these red floors that prevent you from jumping.
I guess the game just became Pugsley's Scavenger Hunt all of a sudden. I don't know why Gross's bathroom looks like this, but he badly needs to insulate these pipes.
So if you hadn't figured out how to switch characters, this would be a fine time to learn. This jump is impossible for Kakeru, but the Princess has a high jump. I know, it's so unexpected. She can't actually attack though, so she's mostly useless unless there's no enemies nearby.
I have no idea what's going on here. A lot of dry leaves and a raging inferno. Did we come at a bad time?
In classic Super Mario fashion, the approach to the final boss is full of these non-Union Mexican equivalent Bullet Bills.
Here's the Emperor. Since he fashioned his final dungeon around Castlevania, he fancies himself as a bit of a Dracula type. So most of the battle will be him floating on one side, firing a whole bunch, and then switching to the other. Because of this predictable pattern, he's a bit easier than most of the other bosses.
We're supposed to be heading right to finish the game, but Blink wants to pretend to be Princess Zelda from "The Adventure of Link" for a bit longer.
Wait a minute, hat kid is called Kaeru?! I've been calling him Kakeru! Why didn't someone tell me? I've been making an idiot out of myself...
So yes, this is Kaeru's dad. There aren't many games where you're rescuing your own father, rather than some princess (who has been with us the whole time).
Apparently I beat the final boss with courage. I'm pretty sure it was these fireballs from my all-powerful magical blue donkey, but what do I know. I didn't get as close a look at the battle as some guy in a cage a hundred yards away.
I guess they did help, once I finally found the button that let me switch between them. Still, this is kind of a demoralizing speech. I did do most of the work here, Pops.
Ooh, that must've been annoying for the translators. Also, they're all staring at me now? Ohhhh, the whole game is an aesop for the power of friendship. Well lah-de-dah.
No, please explain it to me again, by all means. Use very small words if possible, I'm not that smart.
And as Rainbow Dash and Meryl Silverburgh watched the credits rise over the ocean, they ponder their decision to go to all this trouble. "I forgot how goddamn condescending my Dad can be," came the reply after a short while, "I probably should've left him locked up."

That's it! Thanks for reading TurboMento-12 this month, hopefully I opened your eyes to a surprisingly inventive anime license game that clearly cribbed from the best platformers around and had a few novel ideas of its own. Hats off to Westone, they know how to make cutesy platformers with a bit of depth to them. (And thanks again to Gaijin Productions and Zatos Hacks for the translation.)

Allow me to leave you all with this enigmatic message: "Octurbo is coming..."

Moderator
Edited by Video_Game_King

@mento said:

Okay, so this is what happens when you access the fireplace. I don't know what lady was burning, but whatever was in those fumes is starting to kick in. This appears to be a bonus stage, since there's no enemies and lots of treasure to collect. The screen scrolls across very quickly, though, so we can't Dali.

I believe she was lighting up some Pulseman, from the looks of it.

In a truly dickish move, the game starts randomly dropping the little moons and suns at the top of the screen while simultaneously introducing these red floors that prevent you from jumping.

So I Wanna Be The Guy Before The Guy Becomes The Guy? (And because quoting single images is a pain in the ass, I'll just say that Kaeru means frog in Japanese, so maybe the guy just doesn't know animals too well.)