Mario, you pussy!
by Tibe (2015)
Platform games are few on the Neo Geo, unlike for the other renowned fourth generation's systems such as the Genesis, Super NES or Core Grafx. If these have received dozens of good or excellent of these games during their careers, the same can't be said for the machine of SNK. Only five titles total have emerged during the console's fourteen years of commercial existence: Magician Lord, Spinmaster, Top Hunter, Ganryu, and Blue's Journey. Moreover, it's a bit ironic that the company had chosen to release two of these (Magician and Blue's) for the system's line-up back in 1990... In fact, platform was a very popular genre then, especially on home systems. But VS fighting was already about to take advantage on everything else in the arcades, and also on the Rolls of videogames, leaving Mario and Sonic monopoly on the domestic market. Moreover, Blue's Journey is still, indeed, the only game of platform on the system approaching Mario Bros, both for its appearance and its gameplay.
Our game features a little character that can modify its size, pick up bonuses and borrow secret passages, all this while still leaving the spotlight to pure platform. Of course, the stages are richly populated with enemies of all kinds, bonuses, surprises, and other special items to collect. Blue can equip various weapons (boomerang, leaf, bomb) that can evolve on three power levels. There are also Speed Up, additional hearths to increase you health capacity, and a bunch of more or less useful items. The currency in the world of our heroes is the flower, so take care to collect them carefully in order to buy the most interesting things, after finding the stores hidden here and there in levels. You also happen to encounter special characters who will offer you to play with them or fight, or even give you advices or services... In short, your player skills will be tested in many ways, with platforms and ubiquitous enemies which are interspersed with many little friendly phases that give our Blue's Journey great variety and good humor.
To top it all, know that not only several bifurcations will be offered during the game, adding to the variety of environments and the urge to play again, but it's also possible to play two simultaneously! Besides the fun to share the adventure with a friend, when cooperating, it's possible to reach some platforms that are inaccessible to a single player. Many secret passages and hidden levels are then opened to you! Really, this game never stops surprising us. Three buttons are used: fire with A, jump with B, change size with C. Indeed, with it you can shrink or enlarge your hero at will. In his "dwarf" version, Blue can then borrow narrow passages and also jump higher. Without offering the depth of a Mario and its hundreds of levels and secret rooms, the ADK soft still looks damn filled with surprises and hidden things, which is astonishing for an arcade game! Actually, only the life of Blue's Journey prevents it to equal the mustachioed plumber: with only fourteen stages that are cleared in about forty minutes, we are dealing with a standard arcade game...
However, the title displays an exuberant beauty: the childish-style graphics are colorful, thin, detailed, honoring the Neo Geo for a game released in 1990. The backgrounds are varied with forests, undergrounds, water worlds, castles , factories... and if the enemies are numerous, the bosses are a little less: you will always face them in the same room, and if they all look a little the same, they're also lacking both charisma and size (where are the fat leviathans and the juicy monsters?), which is also unusual in the console. The animation is fluid, the characters move fast and backgrounds are not without life, providing a steady pace and a successful atmosphere to the soft. As for the soundtrack, nothing too surprising on the machine: high-end, the melodies and sound effects are perfectly chosen for this burlesque rhyme that is Blue's Journey. Certainly a notch below Magician Lord, it's nevertheless a very good game of platform that I highly recommend to fans of the genre.
|Blue's Journey universe is wonderland: happy, colorful, voluptuous... The six stages are varied and for most of them, very successful.|
|Differencial scrollings, numerous sprites well animated, effects on the water, clouds... the game displays many many details, featuring both speed and smoothness.|
|Fitting perfectly the wonderful world of Raguy, musics and effects contribute to the party atmosphere of the title.|
|Four worlds made of fourteen vast levels, many secret rooms and items, cooperative play... That's not too bad!|
|Here's a nice variation in the platform genre: fun, diverse, comprehensive with its weapons and bonuses. The cooperative play strengthens the attraction.|
|ADK provides here the one and only "Mario-like" for the Neo Geo, and despite a limited life, Blue's Journey still does very well!|
VALUE FOR MONEY (2015)
A platform game for two players, cute as hell, with a well measured difficulty and a pretty decent lifespan... All this on the Neo Geo, the system where there's 90% of VS fighting games... for about sixty euros? What a deal!