From NimbleBit, the creators of Tiny Tower, comes the next game that's going to occupy bite-sized pieces of your time for the next several months. Pocket Planes is the team's latest offering in the casual simulation department, putting you in charge of airports and passengers, planes and people, and challenging you to make it run smoothly and swiftly so you can, well, do it all on a much bigger scale. It's the perfect formula for a "just one more level" kind of game, and if you were one of the many souls who fell victim to Tiny Tower's amazing level of addictiveness, Pocket Planes might just hook you twice as hard.
Pocket Planes begins with a very brief tutorial that shows you a few of the basics, allowing you to pick your starting location on the map so you can build your pocket empire from there. The central focus is managing different airports where you load planes with cargo and passengers then send them across the map to deliver the goods. You get paid for your efforts, of course, and this money can be used to purchase new airports in new cities, upgrade your fleet, buy new planes, expand your number of slots to hold new vehicles, and so much more.
Pocket Planes takes place in real time, so when you see a plane will reach its destination in four hours, that's four hours in the real world. For this reason (and for financial reasons), you'll want to keep a lot of planes running different routes, ensuring you always have someone around to fill new jobs that appear. This also means Pocket Planes is a game of waiting, since you won't always have tasks to complete or cargo to load up. But you know the drill: set the game down, do something else, then come back for more!
Analysis: Oh, Pocket Planes, how do you manage to be so—oh, empty plane in Naples, lots of cargo to load up. Back in a moment. Where was I? Yeah, Pocket Planes' ability to steal tiny nibbles of your time all throughout the day. It's the same sort of formula found in games like Smurf's Village or We Rule, only with planes and people instead of farms and crops. And like you would expect, NimbleBit has everything balanced down to the pixel, leaving no gameplay element unrefined or out of tune.
The in-app purchasing system is worth talking about. We all know how easy it is for developers to mess up this part of the game, but since NimbleBit got the formula exactly right with Tiny Tower, you have nothing to fear. In Pocket Planes, you can use real world money to buy both coins and bux, both of which are used for purchasing new items in the game. Bux can also be used to speed things along, so if you're really tired of waiting for your plane to fly across the Atlantic, toss a few bux its way and watch the magic happen. It's never compulsory to buy anything, and a little patience can always take the place of spending money, as both bux and coins are earned throughout play. But, you know, if you don't want to wait, the option is always there, and you'll be surprised how quickly you head to the in-game bank to get things done!
Pocket Planes is also stocked with NimbleBit's usual sense of humor, allowing you to paint planes any combination of colors, dress pilots in crazy costumes, and deliver things like a shipment of axes, important crime scene evidence, or a Tardis. There's never a stale moment, even when you've got all of your planes out and about on business, as the in-game Bitbook lets you peek in on the passengers' thoughts like the good little voyeur you are!
Looking to join a Flight Crew for the extra challenges and rewards? Come and fly with us! Enter JAYISGAMES as your Flight Crew via the in-game menu.
Eventually, the world of Pocket Planes gets bigger and bigger, so instead of managing a few airports and a few planes, you've got a hangar full of retired vehicles and have to scroll around the world map just to find your destination. At that point, the game doesn't get overwhelming, it just gets larger. You'll have more things to do, more things to manage, but also more income pouring in and more options at your disposal. Nothing is ever forced on you, not even acting on available jobs or stocking up flights, so even if you put the game down for a day or two, you can pick it right back up and start where you left off!
It's easy to summarize Pocket Planes by saying this: it's similar to Tiny Towers, but better in many ways. And if it's good enough to challenge one of our top mobile games of 2011, you can bet it's got a lot of great things going for it!
NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on an iPad. Game was available in the North American market at the time of publication, but may not be available in other territories. Please see individual app market pages for purchasing info.