Sep 25, 2012
Visually, Pocket Planes will be a treat to retro gamers. It was sky monopoly cavorting furtively with 8-bit graphics; there was beauty in the simplicity of the layout. Even the sliding motion of the prominent-headed characters was an ode to simpler times. This game was as two-dimensional as it gets.
Unlike most mobile games I’m used to, Pocket Planes required me to sign in with my Facebook account or a Mobage account, and this hinted at the networking component of the game.
The premise of the game was straightforward. Flex your business muscle, display entrepreneurial acumen and build an empire in the sky. With eight regions to pick as my start point, the globe was well-represented. Basically, I had to ferry people and cargo and try to make a profit. The game started with an appreciated walkthrough, which further explained the how it was supposed to work. It sounded easy to set up waypoints and flip a dollar, but not all planes had the range or capacity to do all trips or to fly to every airport, and I had to plan accordingly.
What made the game an enjoyable challenge was how it made me an air traffic controller. I enjoyed the continual movement of the four initial aircraft I controlled, and I earned money to procure more plane slots, and also earned the power to purchase customizable panes and plane parts. I was also able to purchase airports, and different cities demanded different prices (the game all but sneered at me when I tried to get an airport in Chicago without checking the price early on). I stumbled across gifts too (like a plane body).
I liked the incorporation of leaderboards and social sharing; the BitBook was hilarious. In-app purchasing existed in the name of MobaCoins, and while it can expedite progress, playing through without cash is possible. At the time I played, 500 MobaCoins got me 1 Bux, and I even found that coins could be collected when watching my planes fly, albeit very slowly. The extras, things like Airpedia and the profit-helping logs were sweet cherries on top.
I felt the controls could have been a little clearer, as well as the process of building, selling and gifting planes and parts. Also, the process of spending accumulated rewards could have been a bit smoother. Notifications seemed a bit iffy at times.
Still, Pocket Planes easily makes into the hard-to-put-down category. For an airline management simulator, it did well to take a simple approach without being, well, simple. For some fun with retro graphics, recognizable sounds and a dash of adventure thrown in, I feel comfortable recommending it. You can play the lotto, or start working on owning a fleet of jumbo jets now.
The choice is clear to me.