#917 Flight Control

Posted: 12th September 2012 by Mulholland in Games
Tags: , , , ,

178th played so far

Genre: Management Simulation
Platform: iPhone, Nintendo DS
Year of Release: 2009
Developer: Firemint
Publisher: Namco

Of the larger consoles on this list the one we are most likely to finish first will be the iOS games. Like the majority of people in the world I commute and as such like to use this time playing on my iPhone instead of using the travel time to get extra work done. Since most iPhone games on this list are renowned for their ‘pick-up-and-playability’ I have actually played all the iPhone games we need to cover… it’s just a matter of us being able to write them up for this blog when I am otherwise working super hard on lesson plans. Besides, you won’t believe how difficult it is for me to wrestle his iMachines away from him to play the game.

Our Thoughts

When I first picked up Flight Control the only thing I knew about it was that the book called it a management simulation. What immediately came to mind was Theme Hospital set in an airport… totally not the premise.

Later ports of this have been released on PSN and XBLA but in order to really get the most of this game you really need a touch screen like you find with an iPhone, iPad or DS. Why? Well the game relies on you being able to direct planes from the air to the runway without you having them crash into each other in midair. This is fun and challenging on a touch screen because you are able to deftly use your fingers… I can only imagine the simulated carnage when using a regular controller.

The premise is outstandingly simple, so simple that since it’s release in 2009 there have already been a number of decent games that have developed on this concept in the form of crossroads and train tracks. This remains king, however, because of the route freedom. Your ability to play this game relies on plenty of things; you need to be able to multi-task, think quickly and, most of all, make creative convoluted routes that allow your planes to land successfully whilst many planes of different speeds are queueing up for the runway. It also requires you to keep an overview – while you’re dealing with the bottom left corner, the planes coming in from the top might otherwise crash into your planes circling around waiting for an opportunity to land.

In terms of levels the people at Firemint have been truly giving people value for money. A year after its intial release they did a complete graphical overhaul to bring it into line with contemporary iOS software as well as a reaction to the many related games that had started to crop up on AppStore. This has also resorted in a much-lauded HD edition as well as many new levels (even one requiring traditional 3D glasses!)

Whilst the idea of guiding planes to runways does not sound much in ways of variety of gameplay there really is a number of interesting ideas at work. Different runways have different difficulties that do not simply signal that there are more planes. An example of this is a level reminiscent of Heathrow in December where runways periodically switch on and off meaning you really have to think on your feet. Then there is a level apparently set in Australia where planes make emergency landings every now and then and it is up to you to reroute 5-10 planes to make sure no crashes ensue. Then there’s the level set on the moon, where asteroids and other rocks come by occasionally to disturb your planes… or crash them.

Games like this are aimed to be simple but addictive and this has drawn comparisons by some games journalists as the iOS equivalent of crack cocaine (it’s chocolate). A few weeks ago I even awoke at 7 on a Sunday morning with an urge to land some planes whilst having Arrested Development on in the background. This really is the epitome of an interesting concept done very well.

Final Thoughts

While the game won’t provide you with hours of fun or an in depth world, this is one of the casual games that is just incredibly addictive. It’ll never take you long and a loss doesn’t feel bad, but it does keep drawing you back to better your score. Good enough for us.

  1. […] wait a long time before we feel (statistically) able to play them. Due to a missed connection over Flight Control‘s genre it took us even longer for us to be able to play another management simulator (and […]