Helious II

Action 1993 Dos Albino Frog Software Strategic scope

Plenty of ballooning fun

No prizes for guessing that this is the follow-up to the equally obscure Helious, but don't be too worried if the name doesn't ring any bells, as the series is not exactly a household name. However, thanks to some clever and enjoyable gameplay, this is actually worth more than a cursory look and if you enjoy abstract puzzlers like Skweek or colourful platformers like New Zealand Story, then this should be right up your alley. If you have played the first, shareware, part of the series, you'll know pretty much what to expect from this followup, as it's more of an extension than a true sequel. For those unfamiliar with the original, the game requires players to maneuver a balloon through a series of increasingly complicated levels. You have to be careful with your moves, as every time you make one, your balloon loses air and if you run out, well it's game over. To add to the challenge, an assortment of enemies and obstacles soon rear their ugly heads, including turrets and locked doors, while if you make it to the later levels, you also get various objects which can be thrown at enemies, thus freeing you from the burden of simply evading them. While it is nothing startlingly original or groundbreaking, Helious II is actually a surprisingly enjoyable little experience. The visuals are simple but eyecatching, thanks to the vibrant use of colour, while the level design is consistently inventive and imaginative, with some truly testing levels to get your head around and which prove as entertaining as they are challenging. Definitely worth a look.

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