Retro Review : Blue Stinger (Sega Dreamcast)

They say that imitation is the best form of flattery. Judging by Blue Stinger, Climax Graphics had been playing a lot of Resident Evil and Tomb Raider, sadly they may not have been paying full attention.

In the Press

Blue Stinger was the cause of some disagreement in the press. Official Dreamcast Magazine awarded a 7 out of 10 and clearly loved the puzzles, atmosphere and combat but found fault in the camera and repetitive action. Dreamcast Magazine was less forgiving however and awarded a rating of 53% finding that Blue Stinger failed to excite at any point. The 3 out of 10 DC-UK review opened with the phrase “you can’t polish a turd”. Pretty much every aspect of the game was open to criticism, but was it well deserved?

Gameplay Video


Playing the Game

The game opens with a 10 minute cut scene which nicely sets the scene (but which is never capitalised on) - something mysterious has happened on Dinosaur Island and it’s up to sea rescue expert Eliot G Ballade and companion to solve the mystery, kill the monsters and, hopefully, get the girl - survival horror by the numbers then. Blue Stinger offers a range of puzzle solving and gun play that will come to no surprise to anyone familiar with the Resident Evil and Tomb Raider series of games. For those not familiar the game play can be broadly divided into two halves – the combat and the puzzle solving.

The combat sees you facing a multitude of different monsters for which you are fortunately well armed. Combat either takes place at melee range, using a variety of hand to hand techniques or close range weapons (the fire axe being a favourite) or long range, via the use of various, and conveniently available, guns. Every so often, and probably far away from your last save point, you may also face an arbitrarily placed boss. The combat itself is largely unsatisfying – the basic enemies are a push over and the bosses are damage sponges.

Not long into the game you will begin to notice a few oddities. As you bloodily despatch your opponent (heads and limbs go flying), the now deceased enemy will release an explosion of gold coins to collect. While this might be acceptable in a platformer or some other cutesy title its strangely jarring here. Another issue that becomes apparent after the first 20 minutes is that a number of the enemies respawn when returning to previously visited area. Not only is this an utterly baffling decision, it fundamentally breaks the game as it allows the player to farm cash to their hearts content. This cash can then be used in the widely available vending machines to purchase better weapons, ammo and health packs galore completing negating the “survival” aspect of the title.

The puzzling aspect of the title can be best described as simplistic. On occasion you might be presented with a frustratingly obscure puzzle to solve but most puzzles begin and end with a key card.Even when the game presents something interesting, it manages to spoil it in one way or another. Then there are the characters themselves. Both Eliot and companion, Dogs, are utterly unlikable. Due to a combination of bad dialogue and even worse voice acting Eliot comes across as a sexist jerk and Dogs as little more than a grumpy old man. It's very hard to care for these characters and some utterly bizarre events through the story line hinder this further.

Singularly the biggest problem with Blue Stinger - be it in combat, while puzzle solving or when simply walking around is the camera. It makes everything infinity more frustrating.All too often you might find yourself in a new room being attacked by an unseen monster and can do little but watch helplessly as your health depletes. For the Western release of Blue Stinger the camera was actually changed to the over the shoulder view from a more dynamic cinematic type camera. Having not played the Japanese Version it’s hard to imagine what could have been worse than what we have been presented with here.

Blue Stinger is a hugely disappointing in almost every way, even the music is hideous at points and suffers slowdown when the screen gets busy. It fails to capture the initial atmosphere provided by the opening movie, the combat is repetitive, the puzzling is basic and the camera makes the whole experience a frustrating one. Eliot G Balade, I hate you.


Last Updated ( 13 February 2011 )  

Comments 

(Link to this comment) nakamura 2011-02-13 12:39
Nice to see a proper review of this. It was a terrible game but people accepted it because it was on the DC.
(Link to this comment) JenGamer 2012-06-13 11:21
This was an awful game, good review.
(Link to this comment) sleazy 2012-09-13 11:26
Really enjoyed this back in the day. Had another go last week and yeah, i agree with most of the points but I still remember the story being very good so I am going to continue playing through it.
(Link to this comment) PinchedAce 2014-02-24 04:44
Stunted controls aside, I had a good time playing this and have finished it several times. It had a good story overall, and plenty of replayability.
I can certainly understand any criticism levelled at the game as it certainly lacked the polish of many other games on the DC. I feel it is still worth a look, if not for the impressive CGI and unique twist towards the end.
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