Once I got my mitts on it, I simply couldn’t not review Flight Control from Australian developer Firemint. In the vein of Sneezies, this game has a wicked simplicity to it that belies a truly mind-crushing challenge and a hook that could snag Shamu. It’s like a friggin’ bag of potato chips, you simply cannot play it ‘just once’. The premise and game mechanics couldn’t be simpler. You’re an ATC and the playfield contains 3 color-coded runways. 4 unique aircraft of varying speed appear randomly and with ever-increasing frequency from all around the border of the screen (you’re always warned first with a little icon as to where the next one is coming from). You need to guide each aircraft to the appropriate colored runway for a smooth landing and a point (for you math majors 4 doesn’t go into 3 so yep, 2 of the aircraft are the same color). You do this line rider-style by touching the aircraft icon and dragging a visible path onscreen. The craft will follow the path no matter how crazy you draw it and if it leads to the runway good for you but otherwise it will continue in the last direction you drew until you give it another path or it crashes with another craft. You can’t just draw unlimited-length paths but there’s plenty of leeway to get creative and strategize. As you might imagine, just like real life if you allow a crash it’s game over. That’s it; told you it was simple. 2 things to comment on; first the production values. The first thing I thought of when I loaded this game was the movie ‘Catch Me If You Can’ which had as it’s backdrop the Golden Age of consumer aviation when Pan Am ruled the skies and pilots were rock stars. The art style and music are absolutely awesome and bring back the feeling of a time when soda fountains, drive-in’s and sock hops were hip. Second thing is this game is just crazy addictive; a shining example of superior game design over bells and whistles. When this thing ramps up and you have 15 craft buzzing around the screen at once, you’ll be lucky to keep your head from popping right off your neck.
Of course no app escapes my critical eye so here are my gripes and suggestions.
Bug – sound drops out when a call comes in and doesn’t return until you restart the game.
- Save/resume would be awesome!
- Fast forward button to get through the beginning stage more quickly and onto the meat
- Decrease the pause logo size or eliminate it entirely as it covers too much of the screen
- More airport layouts!
- More types of aircraft!
- A level/wave system so you get a breather plus a greater sense of achievment
- Ability to record/playback to show others how you broke 100
- Ingame music volume control
- Global scoreboard – of course, c’mon this is the iPhone
What can I say? I love this little game; it’s elegant simplicity is a thing to admire (when you can actually stop playing of course).
Note the price image shows what’s advertised as a sale price so expect it to go up at some point. Get it while it’s only a buck as this is one of the neatest pickup games yet for the iPhone. Very highly recommended.
Version reviewed – 1.0
Reviewed on – iPhone 3G 8GB 2.2.1
Global scoreboard – no
iTunes music support – yes
Lite version available – no