Sir Benfro’s Brilliant Balloon review

Take a trip through a world of pure imagination…

It’s hard to sum up exactly what kind of game Sir Benfro is. The gameplay itself could be seen as a mix of Lunar Lander meets Tiny Wings, but the world in which he inhabits is like no other.

Sir Benfro is a naturalist, scientist and explorer. According to his biography he has made some truly remarkable discoveries. But, unlike the great Jacques Cousteau, I’m not entirely convinced any of these are real.

Nevertheless the game sends you on a voyage of discovery with Sir Benfro, to seek out and meet some of these fascinating creatures. Of course, this being a flight of fancy, his method of transport isn’t exactly the norm. There’s no Land Rover or Submarine. Nope, instead he’s travelling by small balloon, powered by one of his early discoveries, Light Emitting Daves (think fireflies).

Set across four environments – yellow leaves, forest, islands and underground – you must help Sir Benfro control his brilliant balloon and navigate the perilous passageways of these environments.

While Sir Benfro handles the direction (on-rails), the balloon’s ascent and descent is controlled by you. Holding your finger on the screen will agitate the Light Emitting Daves and make the balloon rise – and as you’d expect letting go will cause it to fall. It’s up to you then to ensure that you ease on and off the power at the right time, so that the balloon stays on its correct path.

The Light Emitting Daves power is finite, and so you will lose some as you power along. It’s essential that the balloon is filled with Daves, for if you run out, it’s game over. Controlling the balloon to travel in long sweeping curves will keep the speed up, allowing you to move longer distances on less Daves.

However, touching the edges of the environment with the balloon will cause you to lose Daves, as will coming into contact with any creatures. So, to avoid this you will need to slow down the balloon by tapping the screen vigorously.

Luckily, Light Emitting Daves are common throughout the environments along your path, with which you can you replenish the balloon.

Should you make it all the way through the environment unharmed, the level will end and you’ll unlock the next adventure.

The game itself is not exactly hard, and you’ll no doubt breeze through it in an hour or two. Initially the game was actually harder but has recently been updated to be less challenging. For those of you wanting more of a challenge you can crank up the difficulty.

Having said that, the challenge isn’t really the point of the game. It’s more about experiencing the sights and sounds of the adventures of Sir Benfro through the medium of gaming… and what an experience it is.

The illustrations of each creature you meet are both beautifully illustrated and hilarious – in a Terry Gillingham type way. I particularly like each creatures’ backstory, reminding me very much of Ricky Gervais’ Flanimals books, in both style and tone.

Highlights include the female Stingomp, which knits its offspring from the laces of old sneakers; the Blunderfuss Understunk; and the The Brackle McSturdy, a pufferfish-like creature whose life’s work is to cultivate the most luxurious moustache imaginable.

Then there’s Sir Benfro himself. Resplendent in a black onesy and with that spherical fro, he exudes cool. Dressed up in various guises, such as a Luchador, deep-sea diver and native american indian on his biography page, he reminds me very much of a childhood cartoon favourite of mine Mr Ben… and I’m sure there is little coincidence with the name.

Accompanying Sir Benfro on his journey is a toe-tappingly fantastic soundtrack. I’ll wager it’ll be stuck in your head all day. The excellent music is coupled with some amusing sound effects from the various creatures, particularly the Light Emitting Daves which mutter to each other, much like the Pontipines from the BBC kids show ‘In the night garden’.

The developer has mentioned that he’d like to do more with the game, and expand Sir Benfro into other games.

In terms of adding to this game though, I personally would have liked to see branching paths, where you can discover hidden creatures, and or, randomly generated levels to increase replay value.

Overall though, Sir Benfro’s Brilliant Balloon is a fantasy filled slice of wonder. It comes as no surprise to me that many aspects of this game reminds me of kids shows – old and new – as I think it will be kids that will get the most from this game. It really feels like an interactive picture book, and I know that my three year-old nephew would love to learn more about the Eggbutt Snaffle.


Sir Benfro’s Brilliant Balloon is now for $0.99 (69p) on the AppStore.

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