Review: AiRace: Tunnel (DSiWare)

All I wanna do is zomma-zoom-zoom

Flight games are a rare breed on DSiWare. There’s Thorium Wars and, uh, we suppose Paper Plane, and now QubicGames has entered the not-so-crowded field with the neat AiRace: Tunnel.

It’s more Paper Plane than Thorium Wars since the focus is on navigating an obstacle course/tunnel as far as you can instead of smithereen-blowing. There are five set courses to take your jet down, each of varying difficulty and length, and an Endless stage that puts you in control of what appears to be a neon green Imperial shuttle and cranks up the difficulty until your pilot loses all will to live.

The static and lacklustre menu system does very little to instil hope in the game’s production values, but once you’re locked into that first tunnel you see that QubicGames managed to pull off some very nice 3D. Yeah, the game is set in a tunnel and doesn’t have to render much in the way of detailed models, but ships look good and the tunnels are colourful. The music is kind of catchy too, in a “hey ma, I’m flying really fast down a tunnel!” way.

Control comes down to banking and steering, with no way to alter your speed. Steering your craft is done through either using the stylus in a joystick-like fashion or entirely button-based. The latter is much easier for precision flight as the touch method gets a little wonky at times.

High scores are saved in an odd way in Endless: instead of marking your precise distance it settles for what stage you made it to. It’s like if Tetris ignored your score and only tracked how many total lines you’ve cleared. Since Endless is the part you’re likely to get the most mileage out of, it’s disappointing that the score tracking is so ham-fisted. For the five stages it'll track exactly how far you made it before losing all of your planes, but once you complete them you'll get your 100% and the score is somewhat meaningless. You beat it, yay.

Conclusion

AiRace: Tunnel a nice little diversion at 200 Points, even if there are some puzzling choices with regards to score tracking. Sharp visuals, “one-more-go” gameplay and a welcome endless mode make it a fun way to spend your time and pennies.

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