Have you ever played a game that, despite all the good or bad things that it does, made you feel completely numb to it at the end of the day? Like, you can definitely form opinions on all of the things that it does, what it does right and wrong, how you think it could improve itself, and what you love about it, but at the end of the day, you just simply… don’t really care about it at all? I would argue that this is probably the worst kind of reaction you could have to any kind of game, even more so than straight up anger or hatred, because at least you can feel genuine, proper emotion from that rage, as you could if you end up loving a game, but if you don’t feel anything at all towards a game at all to the point of it being mind-numbing to you, then it’s probably gonna end up being less memorable to you, and you will probably forget it ever existed in the first place. This is essentially how I felt after I had beat the forgotten 90s arcade platformer known as Blue’s Journey.

I had never heard of this game until quite recently, where I was looking for another game from ADK to play and make fun of, since that is a running theme that I have built up for myself at this point. Out of their selection, I found this title, and based on how the poster looked, I thought it looked stupid, yet charming enough to where I would probably end up liking what I played. So, I decided to give it a shot, and I would say that it is a good-ish game, but… man, is it one of the most “whatever” games I have played in some time. It does have quite a bit going for it, and if it was somewhat more polished and refined, we could have ourselves a bonafide hidden gem on our hands here, but instead, we have a game with good elements and ideas that is extremely rough around the edges that I couldn’t give two shits about once it was all over.

The story is standard for this kind of game, where the insect kingdom of Raguy is taken over suddenly by the evil Daruma Empire, who seek to spread pollution and chaos throughout the land, so it is up to Blue to set out to not only stop the Daruma Empire from doing their evil deeds, but to also save the fair Princess Fa as well, which feels like a story that fits right in with typical video games stories of this era, not only because of how generic it is, but also because it’s a pollution PSA, and you know how they LOVED making those around this time. The graphics are good, having that cheap, yet still impressive looking style that Neo Geo games were known for at the time, but it doesn’t have that much of a distinct or impressive art style for me to like it too much, the music is alright, having plenty of upbeat tunes to listen to while you’re murdering all these innocent creatures, but nothing stands out as too original, catchy, or infectious, and the gameplay/control is somewhat standard for the kind of game this is, implementing some features that could be seen as innovative for this genre…. you know, if it hadn’t already been done before, and if this game did anything more with these concepts, but hey, A for effort.

The game is a 2D platformer, where you take control of Blue, go through plenty of different stages throughout the expansive kingdom of Raguy, defeat the many foes you will encounter with the various weapons that you will find, or just by throwing them at other enemies, gather plenty of different weapons, money, and health items to assist you along the way and give you more points, enter various buildings to either speak with the inhabitants who will assist you on your journey, or to browse a shop full of many helpful items, and take on several bosses that can be a bit tricky at first, until you realize just how pathetically easy they are. There is a lot of typical fun, arcade platforming to be had here, with a lot of neat different gimmicks and traits that do make the game feel like it is actually somewhat trying, but then, when you take a step back, you will find that a lot of what this game does has been done once or twice before in plenty of other games, and in comparison, this game doesn’t do that much at all to make it stand out or feel unique.

With that being said though, there are some elements about the game that do make it stand out, with said elements going back to what the main character can do. Along with all of the different weapons you can use to defend yourself, you also have the power to shrink yourself down to size, allowing you access previously inaccessible areas and find some neat secrets. This is a pretty interesting concept and mechanic… at least it is IN THEORY, but here, this ability is useless to me. The only time I ever actually used this ability was in the second-to-last or last level, where I actually could not proceed without using the ability. I’m sure I probably could’ve gotten more use out of it through experimenting with several of the areas I went through, but most instances of this coming into play would only help me in getting extra points and shit like that, which I don’t really care about in this case.

Other than that though, there isn’t that much here to make the game stand out from others of its kind. There are alternating pathways that will require you to do multiple playthroughs to see all the levels, so that’s pretty cool for those who are completionists, and there are shops that you can often visit in order to purchase goodies, but most of the time for me, either I didn’t have enough money to get anything, or the stuff that they had on sale wasn’t really worth spending anything on at all. And lastly, after beating each boss, you get the chance to participate in a lottery in order to gain permanent upgrades like extra health, which was really helpful whenever I got the chance to take on that. The rest of the game is your basic arcade platformer through and through, having all the typical ups and downs of one, and while I still consider the game to be good in its own regard, it all just feels so… artificial to me, to the point where I just can’t even be bothered to care too much about it. Then again, I could also say this for a lot of the games I have played from ADK.

But of course, since this is a typical arcade platformer, it also comes with the typical arcade platformer problems you have come to expect. First and foremost, arcade syndrome does rear its disgusting, grease-covered face around the corner, with plenty of enemies being thrown at you in many different areas, but unlike something like Athena, it doesn’t feel mindless, and all the enemies feel like they belong in the places where they do spawn. It can just be a little hectic with how many there can be at once in one given area. Secondly, while most of the platformer is serviceable, there are specific parts of the game that can just straight up BLOW ME for all I care. There were at least two different times where I encountered a section where you need to jump on these moving platforms that were going from the right to the left, each row having different speeds to them, and these sections are ASS. Not only can the platforms be spaced out enough to where you need PIXEL-PERFECT jumps in order to land on them at times, but also, in terms of the second of these sections, you have barely any time to get on these platforms before either being pushed off an edge, or blocked from getting anywhere, making all of these feel like a crap shoot that isn’t fun to deal with in the slightest. Thankfully though, this only applies to these two sections, as the rest of the platforming is serviceable enough to where I can get by without complaining like a little bitch more than I already am.

Overall, despite arcade syndrome still being a blight on this Earth and some bullshit sections here or there, Blue’s Journey fits perfectly alongside plenty of the other ADK titles I have played, being a very run-of-the-mill arcade platformer that does take plenty of inspiration and ideas from plenty of different places, and has its own interesting ideas as well, but it doesn’t do enough with said ideas or inspiration to where it feels that useful or substantial, making for a decent experience, but one that I myself couldn’t care too much about. I would recommend it for those that are big into old-school arcade games, and just want something to play through in about an hour or so, but for everyone else, there are plenty of better options out there that you could go with aside from this. But, before I go, I may as well show you all what the game over screen in this game looks like, because it is guilt-trippy as FUCK. Seriously, they try their hardest to coerce you into putting more money into the machine, and when you don’t do it, not only do they call you a bad guy, but they also show the polluted wasteland that YOU caused by not putting another quarter into that machine. Well, gee, SORRY, Mr. Game, but if I want to be talked down to like I’m a tiny child, I would just go re-watch the Avatar films, ok? I don’t gotta put up your shit too.

Game #594

Reviewed on May 22, 2024