GAME NAME: Pocket Planes
PLATFORM(S): iOS, Android
GENRE(S): Management simulator
RELEASE DATE(S): 14 June 2012
Have you all got your life back after Tiny Tower? Good, now go out and grab yourself NimbleBit’s latest addition to the 8-bit gaming world, Pocket Planes.
I will preface this review by mentioning that Pocket Planes is not for everyone. Some people just don’t get it, and some people will be hopelessly addicted. I’m sad to say that I’m in the addict category. I knew it; I saw what 3 months of Tiny Tower did to me and still I downloaded it.
However this is not just a rehashed version of last years hit tower management game. Although you may class it a spiritual successor, there is a bit of forward thinking and strategy involved in this title.
Your airline begins in one small corner of the — flat, non-wraparound — world and the idea is to expand your dominion to cover the “globe”. Starting with small planes and trade-routes and working your way up to mammoth mega-carriers.
The strategy comes in choosing the airports you buy and the flightpaths you make. Ideally, the less stops the better but a lot of smaller ‘craft just don’t have the range to make long journeys without a bunch of hops. After about level 10 or so you’ll be building planes that can’t go to smaller cities which is yet another thing you’ll need to manage.
Gameplay is simple: a plane is waiting to go at one of your airports and you need to load it up with some passengers and/or cargo and send it on its merry way. Further destinations net you more coins, while each aircraft has a different capacity and range — the latter which can be upgraded at your leisure. Once your planes are in the air, you can leave the game and wait for a notification to tell you they’ve arrived, or observing the clouds fly past.
While watching your planes fly — which is mostly just watching the timer count down the minutes until it lands — you can tap to collect coins and Bux which float by every few seconds. That’s right, Bux are once again featured as the premium currency which you earn slowly or spend your real-world dollars to bolster your reserves.
And you will need quite a few Bux as you go along. They’re used to construct and upgrade all of your planes (done by collecting each part or spending a bit more to get the whole thing) but are rewarded for quite a few deliveries so you’re never in too dire need of them.
NimbleBit have continued with the cutesy 8-bit style graphics of their previous title to great effect. Another endearing aspect is the use of humour throughout, particularly with the naming over various items which need to be ferried.
The soundtrack is distinctly lacking — in a good way! It’s nice not be bombarded with noise and makes the journey through the skies a pleasant and almost relaxing experience. With the main sounds being ambient engine noise and the ker-ching of coins.
One feature that really adds to the experience is the Flight Crew. You set up your own social group with custom hashtag and cooperate to compete inglobal events, which each run for a couple of days. Don’t have a crew to join, sing up with the #THRUSTMASTERS currently sitting at a comfortable 13th worldwide in the current event.
In essence, Pocket Planes is some delightful micromanagement inside a charming game which doesn’t require you constant attention to get the best out of it. While it is not everyone’s ideal good time, those that enjoy this style of game — you know who you are — will get a kick out this with a bit more depth than your typical casual, time management game.
Pocket Planes is out now for free on iOS and soon to be hitting Android via Google Play.