Pros: Smoothly rendered graphics
Cons: No world wide high scores, no unlockables, weak background music, no special effect graphics
While waiting to leave for an airline trip, I used my Nintendo DSi to download the game Flight Control DSiWare. I had to pay $5.00 for it but felt that the game would keep me entertained for at least two hours.
I sat in my seat on a Continental Airlines flight and began playing the game with full interest. I moved the planes around drawing flight paths with my stylus while enjoying the background music. Shortly after the first plane landed, the music went away but I ignored the problem and kept playing. After having my screen filled with five planes, two of them hit each other. CRASH! Flight Control returned to the main menu with a tally of 9 landed planes. Nothing else happened, no awards or medals. I was left wondering what I missed. Did I really understand this game?
At its core, Flight Control DSiWare is one of the easiest games to play on the Nintendo DSi. You are given an overhead view of an airfield and asked to create flight patterns for airplanes to use to land on the landing strips. Since each of the four types of planes land at different speeds, your challenge is to keep the planes from running into each other. To pose a greater challenge, the planes start filling your airfield quickly in this game so you have to maintain your concentration to get a high score in this game. You can use your stylus to redraw landing paths for an airplane at anytime you want but this also wastes time that could be spent on a new arrival. Once you have landed a plane or helicopter you get 1 point. That’s it. No power-ups or bonus rounds. Just direct and land aircraft with your stylus.
From here, the only challenge is staying awake long enough to navigate planes around the map to get a new high score.
The aircraft in this game each have their own specific type of landing strip. The two jets utilize the longest airstrip. A seaplane can land on water or land. Last but not least the helicopter uses a special circular landing pad.
At the beginning you can play in five airfields: Classic, Beach, Carrier, Outback and Windy. Each of these airfields pose their own unique challenges through landing strip locations and even extra landing pads for helicopters. As follows are the airfields in the game:
On this airfield you are given three landing strips set against a checkerboard patterned, grass background. Each of the runways have long unobstructed flight paths which make for easier control and higher scores than the other airfields in Flight Control DSiWare.
The Beach airfield has one jet runway, two helicopter pads and a water based landing strip for the seaplanes. Two landing strips are facing opposite directions so you are going to have a harder time adjusting flight paths on this airfield.
The Carrier offers three landing strips against a deep blue ocean background. As an extra bonus, the helicopters on this airfield are the larger military style birds. I do wish that the ocean had a some visual indication of movement or that a steady trail of waves could been seen trailing behind the carrier. Without this visual features, the airfield is really kind of boring to play.
Just like the other airfields, the Outback offers the three basic landing strips with one twist, required landings. The flight paths appear on the screen as blue and cannot be altered. The extra wrinkle in gameplay makes this map even harder to play than the rest.
The Windy airfield is the ultimate challenge in this game. A total of six landing zones are found here: two jet runways, two helicopter pads and two seaplane landing strips. In the center is an orange flag on a pole which tells you the current wind direction.
First, the dual screens of the Nintendo DSi are poorly utilized in this game. The top screen only shows your high score, current total score and a breakdown of each type of aircraft landed. With the bottom screen, in this rather simplistic game, you follow the flight patterns as an overhead view of the airfield. If you direct the plane, the path glows then turns white after you have moved to another plane. When two planes collide, you can view the collision as two red circles intersecting. While the graphics do appear to be layered and at least non-sprite based images, they still are so basic it is boring. Besides watching a plane land, nothing really ever happens.
In a game where you give the player no graphical special effects, you must give them enhanced sound effects. Flight Control did not do this and as a result the whole package does not mesh together well. The sounds in this game are very minimal with a standard sound for landing, plane crashes and a few other token playbacks.
BGM (background music) was obviously an afterthought in Flight Control DSiWare. While navigating the menus, the music for the selected airfield plays just once and then stops. When playing the game, the airfield’s theme song plays just once and stops. We are left with the humming sounds of planes and helicopters as they approach their landing zones or the occasional landing sound. Yawn!
2 Person Multiplayer Feature
Just like a real air traffic control tower, you can also use two Nintendo DSi consoles to split the landing responsibilities between two players. You cannot connect over WIFI with other players from around the world. Another limitation is that your co-player must also have a downloaded copy of this game. For these reasons, I have not been able to try the feature.
After completing each airfield with 50 landings, nothing else happened. I checked the in game help and looked online to see if anyone else said you could do more with this game but I found no answers. Since there was little else to do after just five hours of gameplay, I do not have any real reason to continue playing. If Nintendo gave us the chance to download Moon Lander, I would highly recommend it over this game because at least it has more sound effects and more special effects than this game!
Developed by Firemint
Data Blocks Used: 59
Flight Control DSiWare does excel in the graphics category but that is where my praise ends. First, there are no powerups or bonuses in this game. None! I wish Firemint had included some unlockable features like more airplanes or just a few more airfields. When compared to the Apple iPhone application, this game does not even have a WIFI leaderboard to compare your progress against. You can try this game for yourself if you are a huge fan of this type of game but otherwise, I recommend saving your $5 for the other more interesting DSiWare games out there today!
In all I give Flight Control DSiWare two planes down.