For those unfamiliar, Sony started the PSP Minis download service back in 2009 with the purpose of targeting smaller and cheaper mini-games that could be downloaded and played on both the PSP and PS3.
Upon starting Blimp, you are met with a planet that has 20 levels sticking out of it. These levels are all 2D and completely new, so you won’t just be revisiting the same levels with a different backdrop. This is definitely a good thing as the gameplay has very little variance on its own. The 20 levels are divided between four pleasing backdrops: a swamp, a wintry mountain, a desert, and a city/wasteland type.
You play as a pilot of a blimp working for an air transport company, with the job to safely transport any number of items or people back and forth from one platform to another. There is a story tying the missions together, and while it won’t win a Pulitzer it does explain why you’re picking up a green man instead of a red one on different missions, which is nice. In addition to taxiing people back and forth there are 4 items you can collect as you fly around. You can snag a time bonus that adds 10 seconds to your time limit, a medical pack to replenish your health, a box containing more bombs, or a diamond-shaped score bonus that has an eerie resemblance to the Bejeweled logo. There is also a navigation sign that claims to “always point you in the right direction” towards your destination. This is incredibly literal, as they mean the right direction, not the right path. It would’ve been more helpful had it pointed where you should turn, though I’m sure the developers thought this just made the game more challenging so I’ll give it a pass.
There are three difficulties: easy, medium, and hard. On easy there is no time limit, however, it isn’t all that easy because there are no health packs to be found on any of the missions. They are all replaced with the time bonuses, which help with the time limit that you DON’T have on easy. Smart. Even with none of the enemies on easy shooting at you, you still need health from running into things. Medium sees the inclusions of baddies shooting at you and the time limit – which is really negligible as every time I lost it was due to dying, not it. I actually found this to be the easiest difficulty. Hard is the same deal as medium except you start with your health bar half full.
By far the best thing about Blimp: The Flying Adventures is its controls. The blimp’s physics-based handling works incredibly well, and once you’ve mastered it you’ll have a great time whipping your blimp through obstacles and zooming in for the perfect landing. The speed allowed by the developers is key because it provides both the opportunity to master the controls and the incentive to go back and improve on past scores with speed runs. Another thing done right is the graphics. I played the game on a large TV through my PS3 rather than a PSP, and it still looked good. While the passengers look to be from a SNES game, everything else should be commended, especially for fitting it all into such a small package.
Despite the great controls, the gameplay is Blimp’s worst enemy. You will notice after the first few levels that your are essentially playing one gigantic fetch quest, except that you have to retrace your steps multiple times on any given mission. The game is like buying an awesome new Porsche, driving it to the grocery store while marveling at how awesome it drives, then buying your groceries and going home, only to realize you left a bag at the store. So you go back, only to realize you forgot your receipt at home. You return home to get the receipt, then return to get your groceries and bring them home. By this time you’ve pretty much forgotten that the Porsche was any fun to drive at all and you’re pissed off this took so many trips. Add in a few things shooting at you along the way and you’ve got Blimp: The Flying Adventures.
While Blimp has many impressive aspects such as controls and graphics, the gameplay will, without a doubt, get monotonous. If you are a perfectionist who loves competing for high scores, then you will get much more re-playability out of this than other Minis, as the developers also included online leaderboards through their website and the game is tailor-made for high scores. Despite getting more challenging as the game progresses you will beat it in about 2 hours, and probably won’t come back. Pairing this with the fact that Blimp is $4.99 on PSN and only $1.99 for IPods, it is hard to recommend this game through this medium unless it is your only option and you love the 2D blimp platforming genre (ha). Also, I do have to mention the severe lack of proofreading in the mission briefings, as the opening introduction alone contained no fewer than four grammatical errors, including the confusion of “form” for “from.” C’mon
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