Blimp -The flying adventures from Craneballs studios is a great little game, and perfect for the iPhone. In it you play as a merchant airship pilot, who as well as delivering passengers and picking up cargo, is doing their bit in a war against an alien race. The story is that the planet Solbot, where you do your business, is part of the allied planets organisation and a valuable strategic outpost. It just so happens that an alien race from Terra agrees and want the planet for themselves. What makes this different from most alien plot games is that instead of space fighters, you pilot graceful airships, or blimps.
The gameplay is simple to grasp but no less fun. Most missions see you picking up passengers and taking them to the correct pad, as well as collecting packages such as bio-waste and diamonds all within a time limit. You’ll also have various hazards to contend with such as enemy blimps, turrets, tanks, flames and toxic gas to avoid.
If you’ve ever played those lunar lander style games then you’ll instantly grasp the controls. On the right side of the screen you have your Hot Air, which boosts the blimp upwards. Letting go will cause the blimp to slowly float back down, so it’s a case of controlling this power while steering the blimp’s pitch, with the iPhone’s tilt, to navigate the levels. Later levels will require you to drop bombs on enemies which is done through tapping the bottom left side of the screen. It’s all about timing the drop as you hover over other airships.
The thing that grabbed my attention the most though, is that for such a simple game it looks absolutely gorgeous… and there’s not a 3D polygon in sight. Everything has a handcrafted, painterly look to it, with the backgrounds looking like oil paintings, and the foreground elements and objects a cartoonish pen and ink feel. Even the mission-briefing cut scenes, while static, have a look of their own… with black and white, graphic novel-esque illustrations for the characters you meet.
There’s isn’t much wrong with this game, especially in pick up and play bursts of a level at a time. But in longer play sessions the gameplay can get a little repetitive. The level difficulty is a little inconsistent, it might be me, but I found some earlier levels far harder than the ones nearer the end.
Another tiny gripe is that, while the music is great and the majority of sounds effects are good, there is no sound for your blimp itself. A light hum of propeller and the sound of a shot of hot air would give the game an even greater sense of atmosphere.
The bottom line
Apart from making calls, and surfing the web the iPhone was made for games like this. A great, uncomplicated concept…. executed well through great controls and a fantastic art style. It’s on sale right now for $0.99, but even at it’s full price of $2.99 it’s worth every penny.
Presentation and graphics
For a 2D game it’s as good as it gets.
Great music and effects, let down by the lack of sound for your blimp
Simple concept and simple controls… tons of fun
20 levels will see you through for a while, then you can go back and try and collect all the extras and beat your scores. A nice touch is that objects and passengers spawn in random places each time you replay a level.