App Reviewed on: iPhone 4
Graphics / Sound Rating:
User Interface Rating:
Re-use / Replay Value Rating:
Helium Boy is a cute 3D platformer involving a boy attempting to make his way across the unbelievably dangerous world he has been placed in, with nothing but a couple of balloons and a pump. A simple idea in concept, this potentially enjoyable game falls just short of the mark with its spotty controls and constant deaths. I wanted to love this game, and although by the end of the eighth and final level I had managed to squeeze a fair amount of fun from it, I just couldn't quite get over the initial issues I had.
The story of Helium Boy is a classic one: get from one side of the level to the other without being sliced and diced by your enemies while collecting stars along the way. The aforementioned boy has only two tools at his disposal during the game. The first is his set of two balloons that allow him to float around the multitude of obstacles and hop over his enemies. The second is his pump, in case the balloons get popped. In terms of actions, Helium Boy can either jump or drop his balloons. His movement is controlled with a serviceable virtual stick. The level is also working against the boy, slowly creeping forward much like its 2D platforming predecessors from older consoles.
As for the environments, they are rather beautiful. Cozy cottages, leafy trees, and birds with hats are just a few of the environmental elements you will float either on to or away from during your journey. The levels are also presented in a variety of ways, changing the perspective of the camera every level to keep things interesting. The enemies are also very well animated, with ninjas slashing at the protagonist any chance they get and birds diving in to try and pop the balloons with their beaks. These enemies are not the only thing keeping you from reaching the end of the levels though. On several occasions, Helium Boy is forced to drop his balloons to get through cramped areas and quickly pump up new ones before the constantly moving levels push him into a lake (or worse).
In the seventh level, ice is thrown into the mix, creating hazard on both land and in the air. This does its job of increasing the challenge significantly, but also further highlights the touchy controls and occasional unpredictability of the boy's movement. With a little tweaking, I have no doubt I would spend time collecting every last star. Unfortunately, it's a bit too much of a headache to fully grasp Helium Boy's movement.
I have to recommend Helium Boy, if only because the song (only one, but it's great!) is so darn catchy and when the game works, it is a lot of fun. Bertil Hörberg's one-man project fully embraces its Balloon Fight roots, difficulty included, and that alone makes it worth giving Helium Boy a chance.