This review is based on the iPhone version of Flight Control.
The real beauty of portable games is their availability. The format favours titles that load quickly, can be enjoyed in short bursts and put away at a moment’s notice to accommodate whatever else is happening around you. Whether it’s during a commute, waiting in line, during a lunch break or any other situation in your regular activities, the ability to integrate with the rest of your day is crucial for a portable game’s success.
The biggest title from mobile developer Firemint just gets this. Flight Control has a simple premise: planes of different sizes and speeds arrive from different angles, and it’s your job to draw flight paths for each aircraft onto their respective landing strip without a collision. The touch-and-draw paths stay on-screen after you plot them, and incoming planes are preceded with a blinking cursor so you can plan accordingly. The gameplay is fundamentally solid, with planes responding immediately to your direction around the smartly designed levels. The experience is also kept lively with a variety of plane and helicopter designs on each of the four levels, a bright colour palette and infectiously catchy music (which can be turned off for your own iTunes fueled soundtrack).
Like the best pick-up-and-play titles, it’s easy to learn but difficult to master. You’ll learn to guide your aircraft in waves like swirling air currents for traffic management and to keep them away from the edges pretty quickly. But for higher level play, only practice and a steady hand (err, finger) will allow you to thread different vehicles on intersecting vectors successfully, or keeping excessive traffic in holding patterns while you plan your landing strategy.
The game also benefits from strong ongoing support from Firemint; originally releasing with a single map, it’s now up to 4 distinct maps and also includes peer-to-peer multiplayer over Bluetooth or a wireless network connection. The best part? These updates were all free, for a title that has always been priced at a dollar. A dollar!
Flight Control is instant and enduring fun, a really solid title that immediately and continually delivers whenever you need a quick fix of fun.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars