Owning an airline company must be a nightmare. Making sure your fleet of planes are in working order, dealing with snotty customers writing negative reviews on websites, and the billions of [insert currency here] that rock up to your bank account every month. Ah yes, I knew there was a trade-off somewhere.
If you’re not up for the real life complexities of being the boss of such an outfit (ask Richard Branson, he’ll tell you), you can always download Pocket Planes from Nimblebit. It’s a simulator where the objective is to build and maintain your own airline, much in the same vein that last year’s Tiny Towers charged you with building and maintaining your own skyscraper. Although you probably won’t make quite as much money as Richard Branson. Stop reading now if that puts you off.
You’re thrown into the action (I use that term loosely), without much of an explanation, then it’s up to you to decipher what’s going on. Eventually you’ll work out that the aim is to transport passengers and cargo between the airports you own throughout the globe. The strategy is in planning the quickest and highest yielding routes. For example, you can transport both passengers and cargo, but if you manage to do both, you can earn a bonus. You can also earn money from taking people and cargo further distances, although naturally this requires larger aircraft which are more expensive to run and refuel. So thats how the industry works. Now I understand why my wife and I shared the plane with crates full of poisonous snakes on our last holiday.
If you have patience, the management aspects game come to the fore and it begins to shine. And if you have patients, you might be a Doctor. Sorry. Every time you take to the skies on a job, you’re charged coins so you better load up on the higher paying passengers. Of course if you’re travelling far on a higher paying job, you may have to stop and refuel which costs money, but at the same time, you may be able to snag some extra passengers heading the same way, which puts more into your coffers. Think of it as hitchhiking at 30,000 feet.
The thing is, flights can take up to an hour in real time to reach their destinations, so there will come a point where all you can do is wait around. In that regard, it’s as true to life as you can get. I can only imagine the irony of playing this game while on a real flight, you might land before your pocket plane does.
Because of this, Pocket Planes left me with eyes glazed. There’s very little atmosphere with no in-game music, sparse sound effects (there may be only three in the whole game) and blocky pixel art visuals which no doubt some find cute, but which come across as unrefined to this reviewer, especially on the iPad where everything is scaled up and is horrible to look at. As a result, a lot of the charm it may have accrued has been bypassed for something more sterile.
It’s designed to dip in and out of at intervals rather than have your face glued to the screen for marathon playing sessions, but since it failed to engage me, there isn’t much motivation to head back into it. There isn’t much of a ‘game’ here, unless you count watching your plane fly to it’s destination while tapping the screen to collect coins which appear in the sky a game. Somehow I can’t see that being a listed feature on the iTunes description.
So the airline thing might not work for me. I’ll strike that off the Branson Wannabe list and focus my attention on creating a superfast worldwide broadband network instead. Yes, ‘Kevin Mooreband’. I’m to a winner there.
Fly with Kevin on Twitter @dreagleg
Pocket Planes is available for free as a universal app. Get it now on the