Sir Benfro’s Brilliant Balloon ($0.99) by Explore and Create Limited is truly one of those unique game experiences that you will only find on the iOS platform.
What would you do if you were a naturalist, scientist, and explorer? Float around with a big balloon powered by fireflies, of course!
This is truly a charming title, and I will have to recommend it based on the graphics and music alone. The visuals remind me of picture books that I read as a child, so the nostalgia is there. Even on a Retina display, they look sharp, and amazing. I have to wonder how much time and effort was put into making such an awesome looking world, right on my iPhone.
Oh, and let’s not forget the music. It’s lyrical and full of soul; I found it relaxing to hear as I guided the lovable Sir Benfro across these new lands. And those sounds you’ll hear from Benfro when you bump into something, collect or lose some fireflies? Yeah, these are just as delightful.
The gameplay itself is fairly simple. Sir Benfro is on a guided path, but you control how fast he flies with his awesome balloon. Since you’re basically on a set path, there’s no need to control where he goes. You’re just responsible for one thing – making him go. To do this, you tap-and-hold on the screen. To slow down the balloon, just tap repeatedly on the screen; letting go will have him drop down. It really is just a matter of timing in the game.
Sounds simple enough, right? Just get him to the end of the level with the balloon. It’s actually pretty difficult, since there will be creatures that come out, walls, and other obstacles. Bumping into anything will slow you down and you will lose some fireflies. When you are out of fireflies, your balloon won’t work and it will be game over. Fortunately, you can always collect more fireflies to power your luminous balloon.
If you fail a level, you will see how far in the level you did get. Then you can start over or continue to the main menu. There are no points, no stars to collect – the game is simply to get Benfro from the beginning of the level to the end, and take in the gorgeous visuals along the way. In a way, it’s definitely not as stressful and a great way to just unwind after a long day, especially with the music.
There are three difficulty levels for you to try out: Beginner, Brilliant, and Bonkers. Brilliant is the default level, and I found it to be a bit challenging, but enough that it wasn’t too frustrating. If the game is a bit hard for you, then you could go down to the Beginner level, or try the Bonkers level if you really want to test your skill.
There are currently four different areas for Benfro to explore, and while I enjoy these levels, I think it’s a bit short. I would guess there are only four levels because the visuals are hand drawn (they look that way) and require a lot of time. I hope that the developer can add more levels in the future.
While the gameplay is a bit short, there are some other extras included in the Discoveries section: Spotter’s Guide and Send a Postcard.
The Spotter's Guide will give you some information on the various creatures that you will have come across in the worlds -- think of it as the game's own bestiary. You'll get a gorgeous visual representation and brief descriptions to sate your hunger for fictional knowledge.
The Postcards section will give you some beautiful images that you can share with others via Facebook, Twitter, or email. It’s a cute addition, and you’ll have a good variety to share with others once you manage to clear all levels.
Oh, and should you ever want to know more about Sir Benfro himself, then you can find out about that too. It’s worth checking out, just for the silly costumes that you will find him in while reading more about him.
If you’re looking for a truly unique game, then I highly recommend that you check out Sir Benfro’s Brilliant Balloon. It’s only a dollar (and it’s universal for your iPhone and iPad!) and it’s just great fun for everyone. It just needs some more levels.