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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

AAQR: Airport Mania the airport management game

Airport ManiaImage via WikipediaEvery play those spinning-plate games where you're trying to juggle several different activities at once? This is another variation on that. In a way, it's a repackage of the Diner Dash, albeit, this time, you're dealing with planes, and that's the essence of Airport Mania, a new game from Reflexive.

Airport Mania have you as an airport manager trying to get as many planes landed and serviced as fast as possible. The faster you can do it, the better your "bonus". Bonus can be spent on upgrading airport facilities to provide even better bonus.

The idea is simple: airlines, from little "puddle jumpers" to jumbo jets, need to land, disgorge passengers, get any repairs and refuel (if needed), get new passengers, and take off again. You only have limited amount of gates, limited amount of runways, limited amount of "wait space", and limited amount of refuel and repair bays. You also get bonus for scheduling streaks, which can come in various forms: several take offs in a row, several landings in a row, keep one airline's plane at the same gate (i.e.a "color streak") and so on. Streaks result in multipliers which adds to your score significantly.

There's a bar graph on top that reminds you there are 5 levels of success, from simple "goal" all the way to "master". And it is NOT easy to get "3 stars" on all mission as one mistake will doom that attempt. There are no do-overs in this game.

While the premise is simple, it's the upgrades that keeps the game interesting. You are limited to maximum of 3 gates, so you need to spend money upgrading the gates, the runways, improve the wait spaces, and so on, to keep providing better service. Upgrading the wrong item and you may have a problem later down the line.

Each airport has several missions (lasting a few minutes at most), and you do your upgrades in between. Interface is simple: tap the plane, then tap its "destination", be it a runway, a gate, a wait space, and so on. A plane can receive multiple commands in a queue and it will follow the best it can.

All in all, Airport Mania is a fun little game with cartoonish presentation (all the planes have eyes and attitude and they will start to get angry if you left them "hanging") that hides a deeper "spinning dishes" management game than you first realize. Defnitely worth a try for fans of this genre.

Rating: Get it

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