Ho ho ho!

   A new system always brings with it a mixed bag of first-generation titles -- some are merely tech demos disguised as games, while other stand out as genuinely worthwhile efforts which just happen to be released early in the system's life. The Dreamcast's first adventure title, Blue Stinger, stands teetering on the line between the two categories, a mixture of both new gameplay concepts and new graphic engines.

   Developed by Climax offshoot Climax Graphics, Blue Stinger is set on a newly created island -- the product of a massive earthquake -- off the coast of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. The island is believed to contain the crater left by the meteor that killed the dinosaurs, so scientists swarm over it. The Kimra Corportation quickly dominates business on the island, but shortly after the company's arrival, another meteor, enveloped in a strange blue light, strikes the island.

Eliot meets Nefilm

   Enter our hero, Eliot (sic) Ballade. Vacationing off the island's shore, Eliot is caught in the impact and knocked unconscious. After waking up alone on the shore, he quickly befriends fisherman Dogs Bower and island resident Janine King, and the three work to unravel the mystery of the island. Lest you be concerned about yet another appearence of the "pick one of two characters" cliché, Blue Stinger allows you to switch between Eliot and Dogs freely. (Janine, the brains of the operation, is not a playable character). Both characters have their merits: Eliot is fast and can wield both guns and hand-to-hand weapons, whereas the somewhat slower Dogs packs bigger guns with a longer range, but no close range combat skills.

   Together, Eliot and Dogs fight through over 200 polygonal scenes, all of which are closely modelled to resemble an actual city. The plausible environments add an extra touch as battle rages through shopping malls, restaurants, radio towers, and even an arcade. The Dreamcast's power is evident in the numerous lighting effects -- everything casts realistic shadows, and weapons light up the scenery with all manner of colored lights and explosions. Heavy artillery has never looked this good.

I can see my house from here!

   Another of Blue Stinger's accomplishments is the ability to purchase items. Yes, it's about time "survival horror" games started including money, and Blue Stinger blazes the trail. Fancy a quick health-restoring hamburger, more ammunition, or even a shiny new plasma gun? Now they're no farther away than the nearest vending machine, found at any convenient island location. Of course, you'll have to earn some coins by dispatching humanoid enemies (realistically, amoebas or dinosaurs don't carry cash), but they're generally easy to locate. Unlike most games of of the genre, you won't have to worry about running out of ammo frequently.

   Fortunately, they're far more weapons to collect. The heroes' arsenal includes the standard hand gun, shotgun, and machine gun, plus a bazooka, lasers, napalm, swords, and plenty more -- you can even drive vehicles! In a pinch, you can fight with your fists, though doing so simply involves hitting the attack button over and over to execute combos. You'll also have a helpful Navi-like fairy, Nefilm, to help target the enemies, a group which includes not only zombies but also giant slimes, truck-sized prehistoric praying mantises, dinosaurs, and plenty of other abominations. Needless to say, Blue Stinger's monster variety is far above the norm.

Rocket Launcher
Eliot attacks aggresively

   Despite these many achievements, Blue Stinger is not without its flaws. Reviews of the game, already released in Japan, frequently point towards the confusing, drifting camera angles as a major oversight -- luckily, the game at least aims your gun for you. Character animation, particulary that of the main two characters, is also said to be extremely stiff and unrealistic. Plenty of time remains before the game's North American release, however, so it's possible that the delay will pay off in the form of improved control.

   It may not be the system seller it was intended to be, but that shouldn't keep Blue Stinger from being successful upon its American release. It brings both innovative gameplay and graphical flair to the genre, and should keep early Dreamcast buyers entertained until Resident Evil: Code Veronica arrives.

Preview by Fritz Fraundorf, GIA
Blue Stinger
Developer Climax Graphics
Publisher Activision
Genre Adventure
Medium CD (1)
Platform Dreamcast
Release Date  03.22.99
E3: Activision grabs Blue Stinger
103 screenshots / 3 movies
Character art
North American box art