Blue Stinger (ブルースティンガー)

Fancy playing a game set in a mysterious place called Dinosaur Island where you fight lobster-esque mutants and gain fighting skills simply by wearing a t-shirt? Of course you do. Let me introduce you to Blue Stinger, a Biohazard-style horror game released Climax Graphics and published by Sega in 1999.

The Japanese cover  has a more subtle tone than the Western one

Back in the day I was a big fan of Blue Stinger. It was the first real adventure game other than Sonic Adventure, that I purchased for the system. The game was quite attractive for the time and I fondly remember the games heavy Xmas theme (it's set on Christmas eve). Especially hilarious is the shopping mall area which has this happy holiday jingle playing while you're chopping monsters in half. So, how does the game hold up thirteen years later in 2012?

Much like Biohazard (was), Blue Stinger is a fixed camera horror/adventure game in which you go round collecting keys and beating the crap out of creatures on an island named Dinosaur Island. Yes,  that's right, Dinosaur friggin island, not exactly creative but hey its all due to the games nonsensical although rather amusing plot; see if you can keep up. Supposedly, 5 billion years ago, a meteor fell and hit the Earth, killing all the dinosaurs and then in the year 2000 a huge earthquake rocks Mexico and causes and island to pop up in the Pacific Ocean. 17 years later a biotech company decides to build a facility on the island. Elliot Ballade, an elite member of the some special forces is taking a holiday near the aptly named Dinosaur Island when yet another meteor falls from the sky and crashes into the island! The island then becomes encompassed by some blue dome and it is up to you to check out the island which is now almost entirely inhabited by monsters. So, basically the plot is a load of balls! 

Boss battles come thick and fast on Dinosaur Island

Unfortunately, the bulk of the game consists of little more than locating keys and passwords for doors whilst cutting down any of the lobster lookalike monsters which cross your path. As well as squirting out insane amounts of tomato sauce when killed the monsters also have a strange habit of dropping coins when killed? Not sure whether they’ve been rummaging through the cash registers on the islands, or whether this is their life insurance paying out but it does seem rather out of place. These coins can be spent at stores to purchase weapons, ammunition and life restoring energy snacks such as a hotdog! Perhaps the strangest items on sale though are the t-shirts which can be purchased to teach your sidekick, Dogs, who initially has no hand-to-hand combat skills, fighting skills. Three t-shirts are available, Wrestler, Sumo and Karate Man.

The VMU screen displays a mini-Elliot blasting a bazooka as you play

Visually, the game is not too bad for an early Dreamcast release with some great use of colour and some stylish locations, especially the Xmas themed stores and areas. The whole game is also in English which made the game a high demand import title at the time as it was something different from the arcade conversions being released and something people could actually sink their teeth into and understand. The lip-sync in the game is fantastic. Fantastically bad, and is probably the worst I have ever seen in a video game but is also charming in a cheap Hong Kong kung-fu movie kind of way. Some of the dialogue is also hilarious such as the following encounter between Elliot and Dogs.

The game still has a charming cinematic feel and the orchestral soundtrack adds a lot of atmosphere to the game. Unfortunately, the fixed camera (think Biohazard) can make things frustrating at times for example when entering a lobster-mutant filled room, the last thing you want to see is the camera shot of yourself and the door behind you. This was of course changed for the Western release to a free roaming Tomb Raider style camera, although that has its own issues itself. Climax Graphics also opted for a rather odd control system in which rather than you push up to walk forwards you need to push the stick in the direction that you wish your character to move according to its position on the screen. This can be frustrating when the camera is swooping around to show all of the area and you are trying to avoid oncoming enemies or simply enter a door. I found myself re-entering some locations or walking around in entire circles due to the camera and control system. 

The game is still a fairly attractive title in 2012

Overall, Blue Stinger is a game with a lot of charm and is a good game to have in your collection due to its cheap pick up price and quirky nostalgia factor. Sadly however, the years have not been good to it and its probably one best remembered through those rose tinted retro glasses.