42pts

A little bit better than the average blog.

Review of Blush by Blurst

Blush by Blurst screenshot

It’s sometimes surprising if not downright amazing what social networking can do for you. I really only joined Twitter to compliment fortytwo points with some real-time updates and I never thought it would actually lead me anywhere I cared to be. This part’s not surprising, but I was wrong.

As I investigated my few followers in an effort to determine how crazy they must be to have taken an interest in my Twitter account, I found that one of them (at least) probably isn’t an individual. Instead, they turned out to be a gaming service.

Now, this is exactly why I never did and really still haven’t gotten into the whole web 2.0 hoopla. You’re a less valuable community when someone starts using your channels to hawk their wares in what will probably be an apparently objective manner. It’s not wrong to sell shit through creative means, but it is wrong to think that someone’s your friend and to friend them as if they actually were. Take a look at Tila Tequila. No one in the world actually likes her and yet she has millions of online “friends”. Am I the only one who finds a service that facilitates this kind of madness unappealing?

Apparently, yes.

But once again I am digressing. This time around, I was not offended because one) I understand Twitter is less like MySpace and more like a filthy corner that whores work on, myself included, and two) the gaming service in question is awesome. And free, which only adds to the awesome.

Blurst.com is like a casual gaming site for gamers and as such they offer games that you can play through their web portal. Now, there has been much debate about what “casual gaming” truly means and though this is not an absolute, I think we can all agree that generally it means “shitty shovelware for people at extremes ends of the age spectrum”. Fortunately Blurst seems to aspire to be something different than exclusively profitable.

The first thing you’ll see when visiting Blurst.com today is prominent advertisements for their latest hit, Blush. Fans of thatgamecompany’s flOw or those familiar with the early stages of Maxis’s ho-hum Spore will feel immediately at home with the gameplay in this title. They may also find more fun in it than they did in the others.

Blush squidYou control a jellyfish of sorts and all you have to do is gather little glowing eggs that are littered about the ocean and that which drop from fallen enemies. Once you have a few, you drop them off at specific points, rinse, wash, repeat, so forth, you get the picture. It’s simple concept to wrap your head around, which is a good thing.

The graphics are similar in many ways to both Spore and flOw in that they are simple, pleasant, and vibrant with color. The music is harmonious and incredibly relaxing and you can even download it for free here (another post will be devoted to this incredible site in the future). Where Blush excels past them both though, is its gameplay.

Clicking the mouse will draw your jellyfish to where you pressed down, and holding it causes it to follow your cursor. The B key will make it sprint forward, allowing you a momentary boost of speed. If you make a circular motion while holding either mouse-button, your jellyfish will whip its tentacles about, and brushing them against an enemy is how you attack. Watch out when they start flashing though, or touching them will cost you a tentacle, which can be replaced by dropping off more eggs. And that’s all you really need to know to play the game.

Your enemies consist of other jellyfish, clams, angler fish, sea dragons, and more, each requiring slightly different tactics to overcome. The bigger they are, the better/more eggs they drop, so it’s worth your time to learn how to defeat the more difficult foes. Otherwise the four minute time limit will end your play before you can build a respectable score.

Holding onto eggs offers the occasional score multiplier, but turning them in makes your tentacles longer and your fish faster, which has its own obvious advantages. The way this all comes together is where the true joy is, as playing a casual round of Blush can sometimes feel like, for lack of a better analogy, mouse calligraphy. You’ll start to notice that swimming your fish around requires “swimming” your mouse around in a pleasing and almost poetic manner, and it’s less like you’re controlling a fish and more like you are the fish. Or, at least your hand is a fish, or something…

Blush is as can’t miss as can’t miss gets, considering the fun-had to time-spent ratio I personally experienced. Check the action out for yourself with this gameplay video:

I would be doing Blurst (and you as well) a disservice if I didn’t mention the other games they offer, and you may already be familiar with some of them. Off-Road Velicoraptor Safari almost literally brought production to a halt for a straight week at one of my previous jobs, and Minotaur China Shop is not without its own notoriety. Jetpack Brontosaurus, Splume, and I Hate Clowns: Operation Pie Gones are some of their other ingeniously named titles and you should try them for yourself to see how you like ‘em. Obviously, I haven’t yet.

Where Blurst wins real points from me is in their personable humor, and you can see it in all the notices they’ve put up about things being under construction on the site (the service is not yet finished and features like the leaderboards are not yet functional). They even go as far as to call their own avatar in Blush “Crystalline Attack Sperm” in reference to someone else calling it that, and for a professional institution to do such a thing would be considered tantamount to foolishness in any other industry. Here, it simply makes them cooler.

On the other hand Flashbang (proprietors of Blurst.com) also run a more traditional casual gaming service at flashbangstudios.com, where you can buy that shovelware I so loathe to even acknowledge. I can’t and won’t knock them for making money though, but please keep in mind that I have not yet and probably will never offer my opinion of that service on this site. Visit it at your own discretion.

My employment history tainted any fond notions I might have about casual gaming but Blurst has restored it, and in the process shown me a truly unique company. I highly, highly, highly suggest you give Blush and their other games a try, and after you do, please let us know what you think. ;)

Little tip though; when you play Blush, right-click on the game and choose to play in full-screen. It makes things a bit easier to control and keeps the back-page button on your mouse from returning you to the last site you were on, potentially ruining a great score you might have accumulated.

Try to guess whether or not I did that.

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