Note: This game was played on a Turbografx-16 console that has been modified to output in 240p component video. It was connected to a 32-inch HD-tv.
Note 2: This game is an English-translated reproduction.
Brief History: Released in 1990 for the PC Engine in Japan, Blue Blink is based on a Japanese animated series.
Story: According to the story that will scroll down the screen after you watch the game’s demo, a boy named Kakeru saved a blue horse named Blink who fell from the sky. Kakeru took Blink home, only to find that Kakeru’s father, Hiruhiko, was missing. They hop onto a bus along with two thieves and are told by the driver that the Emperor has captured Hiruhiko. Accompanied by the two Thieves, a Sailor, and a princess named Kirara, Kakeru and Blink set out to defeat the Emperor and rescue Kakeru’s father.
Gameplay: Blue Blink is composed of 5 Stages located on 5 map screens. You drive the bus to a location (Level) on the map screen and must beat it before moving on. Not every Level in a Stage needs to be beaten, however; your main objective is to locate a hidden Red Key in one of the Levels that will unlock a Boss door in the stage’s final Level. You can replay any Level (except after winning a Boss fight in each last level) as many times as you want in order to find the Red Key or collect other items. Some Levels autoscroll, while others are your traditional platforming Levels. The 5 Stages are called: Rose Town, Ivory Tower, Yellow Town, Rainbow Town, and Gurosu Castle.
When you begin a Level, Button II fires a projectile, and Button I jumps. For every Level you play, you will have a pre-selected arrangement of the game’s 5 protagonists (non-including Blink the horse, who is only available for Boss fights): the boy Kakeru, the princess Kirara, the Tall Thief, the Short Thief, and the Sailor. You will have a party of 3 of the aforementioned, and each plays differently in terms of the projectiles they toss or in how high they can jump. You can rotate between each of these three characters by pressing Select.
Items: In addition to finding the necessary Red Key in each of the game’s 5 Stages, you can also collect gold by slaying enemies, Speed Boosts good for one Level, Hearts that replenish your energy, Poison that drains your energy, extra lives, or Blue Keys that are used to open chests that may contain any of the aforementioned items.
‘Leveling Up’: You can increase the number of Heart Containers you have by collecting gold. You accumulate gold by slaying enemies or opening chests, and you can have up to eleven Heart Containers. Because you can replay Levels as many times as you want, it’s a good idea to spend some time ‘gold grinding’ in order to increase your life bar. For every 100 coins you collect (which come in 1s, 5s, and 20s), you’ll add a Heart Container OR an extra life (more on this immediately below).
Blink: Blink the horse serves as your ‘lives’ in Blue Blink. If you run out of hearts (die), or fall in a hole (die), Blink will fly on screen and revive you, restoring a small portion of your hearts. You can accumulate extra lives (Blinks) by collecting money or by finding items (small blue orbs) that count as extra lives. Pay attention to how many lives you have – once again, it’s smart to ‘gold grind’ to accumulate Heart Containers and extra lives.
**Important note on Blink: A character mentions this at the beginning of the game, but leaves out a crucial step. Instead of dying and waiting for Blink to fly on screen and restore a portion of your life, Pause the game when you’re about to die (this is useless if you fall in a hole, but awesome if you know you’re about to die from being hit by an enemy). While the game is paused, hold Button I – your ENTIRE life bar will be refilled! This is why it is important to ‘gold grind’ so you have as many Heart Containers as possible – they will all be completely refilled every time and the game becomes much, much easier.
Bosses: There are 5 Bosses in the game. When you unlock the Boss door, the game immediately switches to Kakeru riding Blink and firing Star projectiles at the Boss. Score enough hits, and the Boss will explode and leave you some gold, Blue Keys, and health replenishment items.
Saving? Unfortunately, no. No save file using the Turbobooster-Plus, passwords, or even a level select code that I could find. Still, it’s not an overly long game.
The Southern Gentleman’s Opinion and Letter Grade: C+ Blue Blink is not an overly amazing game by any stretch of the imagination – it’s average, in terms of fun and replayability. The English translation is amazing, as finding the Red Keys to advance to the next Stage would be more difficult without it – as it is, citizens you meet tell you almost exactly where to look. The difficulty is medium – using the tips I mentioned helps tremendously. The Boss fights are probably the best part of the game, as each boss has a unique look and pattern, that, while not entirely predictable, makes for a decent challenge. The ‘switching’ characters concept is executed decently, although after awhile you may end up preferring the game had just stuck with one character only as the switching can become tedious and even frustrating at a few points.