Note: I Want To Go To Mars is released on the 26th of February 2020. I played a pre-release build of the game but will update my review if there are any differences between this version and the final release.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – mobile gaming has a terrible image, but it’s not entirely deserved. Done right – and without the predatory, money-grabbing practices that the big guns of mobile gaming all use – it can be just as satisfying to play a mobile game as it is to play a game on any other platform.

It’s just a shame that it can be such a minefield; finding the gems that don’t prey on players is tough sometimes. Even games aimed at young children can be ad-riddled nightmares, with little regulation of what they’re shown between – or during – the stages of the game they’re playing.

It’s refreshing, then, to come across a game such as I Want To Go To Mars. Not only is it a perfectly child-safe experience, but it’s also beautifully crafted and deserving of a lot of attention. The game begins with Robyn and Teddy discovering that their moon base (which is to say, the toys in their sandpit!) has been ruined by a big, scary storm. Downcast after being unable to fix their base, Robyn and Teddy decide that they need to go to a place that never rains – and so the plan is hatched to go to Mars.

Helping Robyn and Teddy get to Mars consists of progressing through a number of mini-games: collecting pieces for their rocket (which can be customised with lots of different items), fixing broken devices in their vessel, collecting stars or dodging asteroids, to name some of them.

Told partially in rhyme, the game’s story is nicely narrated, but along with that what’s immediately apparent is the charming style of the game’s visuals. It has a wonderfully hand drawn, even tactile quality, even in motion; combined with the narration and the excellent soundtrack, the beautiful visuals give the game the feel of playing through an animated children’s story book. I was particularly taken with the details on the rocket interior; the wonderful cardboard construction and hand drawn signs within being particularly appealing.

The minigames are all very simple, straightforward tasks; the only one that’s likely to give younger players a hard time is the asteroid section, which can be a bit hectic and also sees players trying to survive five waves of deadly space rocks, which might be a little bit on the tough side for the target audience.

It’s a short game – lasting, at most, around 40 minutes from beginning to end – but that’s not a bad thing at all given the age of the players it’s aimed at. The brief length allows the game to be played through pre-bedtime; just like a favourite storybook there’s no reason why it can’t be experienced more than once, either. I Want To Go To Mars is a beautifully charming, gentle experience for the majority of its brief duration; a lovely ode to the power of imagination that looks, sounds and plays wonderfully.

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