Menara Games' newest is Balloon Express, wherein you act as the Heroine's hand-eye coordinator helping to deliver packages all over the World. Over the course of 60 days, our heroine Amelia delivers parcel & post to generate enough money to help her father. In Victorian times a sixty-day venture around the world is not simple - a fact Jules Verne could attest to.
It is very easy to learn how to play Balloon Express, one need only use the mouse to point-and-click. However, don't be fooled by the simplicity of the game controls for this game requires a great deal of hand-eye coordination. There are two modes of gameplay here: Story Mode and Puzzle Mode. In both modes of play there are various bonuses that Amelia can accumulate while busily delivering packages. In story mode the player follows the heroine Amelia around the world as she circumnavigates the world. As the player, you look down at Amelia's balloon as she travels over the countryside and deliver the correct package to the correct house. How much money you make depends on how efficient a package deliverer you are.
Balloon Express boasts a second mode of gameplay known as Puzzle Mode. This is a "matching" game where the houses you fly over are grouped in "threes" with 3 package icons- such as 1 letter icon and 2 box icons. The idea is to get the package icons of each house-group to be 3-of-the-same by switching icons between houses.
Menara Games provides a treat for the eyes with Balloon Express. Realism is not what this game is about, so everything in-game is rendered in a cartoon/comic-book manner which suits this game well. Amelia's world is a bright and colorful place where it is easy to differentiate between objects. While playing Balloon Express I was kept very, very busy getting the right package to the right house and honestly did not find the time (other than a few glances) to watch the scenery go by. In fact, I let the game run without playing just to take in all of the in-game scenery. I enjoyed the level of detail provided in this game, because those few glances one does get at the scenery are enough to keep you interested in the game.
It is not often that I take the time to search through a game's read-me file, the in-game menus, and the game's folder itself in order to find a game's credits. Despite this, I could not find the Balloon Express credits- so, I'll keep to generalities and say that the person responsible for the game's music score did a fantastic job!
The background music is what makes Balloon Express work. The title/menu score really generates a sense of adventure -after all, that is what traveling around the world is all about. Furthermore, as you travel with Amelia, there are no less then 5 different musical themes suited to different geographical areas- again, all adding to a sense of adventure.
When pondering about "how fun" a game is, I always run into a bit of a problem. In an attempt at fairness I look at each game that I review in the following light; how fun a game is for me weighed against how fun this game will be for it's target audience. Balloon Express is an enjoyable game- the graphics and sound are simply wonderful! However, games that focus on hand-eye coordination have a very limited appeal for me. In making an assumptive leap as to the make-up of the target-audience, I think said audience will find the game to be very fun.
So, once you purchase Balloon Express for yourself or a member of the target-audience, how long will you/they play? The story mode alone boasts 60 levels of play that span 5 different and unique lands. When coupled with the puzzle-mode of play, both of which have an increasing difficulty curve, it is fair to say there is a great deal of gaming to be had. As with most games that are of the point-and-click variety it is also fair to say that there is not a tremendous amount of depth to the gameplay. With this in mind, Menara Games scraped together a bit more longevity to the gameplay by providing the game an object-generator that randomizes the game scenery so that the same game is never played twice- good for replay!
Overall, Balloon Express is a fine game, and it certainly has a great deal going for it (not to mention it has a female lead in a productive and problem-solving role!). It is a given that the games I review must pass through my filter of the world, therefore I see children and youngish-adolescents as the primary target for this game- and within this audience I'm confident that Balloon Express will make it's mark. If you have kids in the house, check this game out! As for adults that enjoy non-violent and energetic hand-eye coordination games, Balloon Express is worth a good look.
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