Flight Control (DSiWare)

Game Review

Flight Control Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by James Newton

Up in the air

Already available on the iPhone, Flight Control puts you in one of the world’s most stressful jobs: air traffic controller. Charged with landing all flights safely, you have to plot a path for each incoming aircraft towards its designated landing zone, naturally making sure to avoid collisions. What begins as a straightforward exercise in drawing lines soon becomes an intense puzzler.

Using the bottom screen to display the airfield, you simply draw a line from the aircraft to the runway approach of the same colour. Once you’ve locked-in that path, the aircraft turns white and you can concentrate on another incoming flight, all the time making sure not to plot a collision course as one crash results in “Game Over.” Making this task a little easier is the way flights follow your stylus as you’re drawing, meaning you don’t have to finish a path to get that jumbo jet out of the way of the incoming air ambulance. It may not sound much but it makes a big difference to the ease with which you control the field.

For each flight you land, you score one point, with the aim on each field simply being to score more points than you did before. For a score-focused game, the scoring system itself is disappointingly thin: there are no bonuses for landing flights in quick succession or within a certain time of them appearing on screen, for example. Online leaderboards, present in the iPhone version, are sadly absent here, meaning it’s just you landing more planes than you did last time, turning the global challenge into a one-player show.

That said, there is a multiplayer option for the first time, though there’s no Download Play feature. You and a friend share flights on the same airfield, meaning you can pass incoming traffic over to your co-controller if you want them to land it or if you’d rather mess up their careful plan. It’s double the chaos of the single-player game and hugely enjoyable, but naturally doubles the price of entry to get the most of it, a bit of a kick in the teeth considering it already costs five times more than the iPhone version.

One other addition over its iPhone predecessor is the “Windy” level, which features a changing headwind forcing you to adapt flightpaths as different runways become too dangerous to approach. It becomes very difficult very quickly, so is only recommended to gamers with unbelievable skills and real-life air traffic controllers; regular gamers are probably better off sticking to the other courses, all of which have their own subtle differences making mastering one very different to mastering them all.

Presentation-wise, Flight Control is a simplistic but pretty piece of portable programming. The art style of the menu characters and interface is kitschy (in a good way) and, crucially, the in-game graphics are crystal clear and never get confusing. The audio is rather lacklustre, however, with a single tune from the menu playing once when you begin a game and then the remainder of the level playing in near-silence, with just a few sound effects for company. Undoubtedly this is a leftover from its appearance on iPhone as that version let you play your own tunes, but here it makes the experience fall a little flat.


There’s very little wrong with Flight Control but it does feel a little thin. The additions of a new airfield and two-player mode are very welcome, but given the game’s origins as an addictive single-player score attack game it’s a shame more wasn’t done to boost this aspect: the removal of leaderboards hurts the game immeasurably.

Without a friend to experience the multiplayer mode, Flight Control becomes a solo flight, learning the game’s hidden intricacies and bettering your own high score purely for your own satisfaction. If that's what you're in the market for, you'll find plenty of nail-biting "one more go" addiction here.

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User Comments (33)



3230ru said:

Totally disagree about the score! the one and only thing we could complain about is removal of leaderboards, but no one could deny brilliance of this game. right at the moment I think that this game is as pretty as ArtStyle series and as addictive as Tetris. so it could be 8/10 or 9/10 (it depends on how bad You consider "removal of leaderboards" is)



TwilightV said:

  • Checks back a little *

Whoops! My mistake! It looks like something I might want to pick up.



ACK said:

Solid review, but I don't know if removing leaderboards can hurt the game as much as you say... I mean, it's pretty easy to share highscores with friends on message boards and the like. And I think to a lot of people besting their own high score is nearly as rewarding as seeing their name atop a bunch of strangers. Especially considering the vast majority of people aren't going to post competitive scores anyway.

For instance, Pinball Pulse is purely about getting highscores and the lack of an online leaderboard in that one is hardly noteworthy. I guess my point is that for most people I don't see how online leaderboards should significantly add or detract from fundamentally fun game design.



Percentful said:

My dad has this on his Iphone, and it certainly is fun on that. I might have to consider this.



James said:

It's a fun game, and a 7/10 is a good score (remember, 5/10 is an average game here!), but there's nothing to unlock and personally I like to see how I stack up in score-based games. That's how I feel about it, and I did toy with the idea of an 8/10 but the editing team decided 7/10 was fair.

@Ack Or an iPod touch



ACK said:

Yeah, I don't disagree with the score... Just had to say my piece. Very fair review.

Forgot about the Touch though...



HolyMackerel said:

Thanks for the review! Very in-depth, and with all the info I was wondering about.

Hmm, now I'm on the fence about this. I'd have loved if this had download play because all my friends only have DS Lites. The lack of online leaderboards is a bummer - I don't normally compete worldwide, but this looks like it might get repetitive if it's just a score attack game.

Also, a fairer price would have been 200 points, since it's only $1 on the iPhone. :/ I guess Nintendo insisted on marking up the price.



drdark said:

7/10 sounds about right. Apart from the leaderboards being removed, I thought the other main criticisms were: lack of music/sound effects, price and a rather "slim" experience overall. If so, the score is very fair. The depth of KuBoS's mechanics or the bonus content (music) in PictoBits aren't really replicated here.

That said, again, 7/10 is a very good score and it's a nice game. Wife loves it on her iPod Touch.



Knux said:

Wow, it's been awhile since I have seen a DSiWare game receive a good score. Great review!



3230ru said:

@everybody OK but this game has an unique idea in it and I think it must be praised. For example 5 in 1 solitaire here got the same score!!!! it is not right at all....



Adamant said:

Why not? 5-in-1 Solitaire was a relatively solid collection of 5 solitaire games which wasn't particularly outstanding in any areas, and this is a new and entertaining puzzler which is annoyingly thin in some areas. 7/10 is a perfectly fair score for both.



drdark said:

I think the main problem here is people assuming 7/10 is a bad score...



TwillightPrince said:

I dont pay 5 euros for a game that costs 79 cents for the iphone. I like the concept.. but sorry Nintendo: 5 euros? Never ever!



supercommando440 said:

DOes the DS version keep track of ALL TIME stats like total planes crashed, total planed landed, like the iPhone does? I don't play the iPhone version because my finger gets in the way. I think this game will play out much better using DS and it's little stylus but I really want the persistent all time stats intact.



jesao said:

@drdark: I got it from play-asia, but it looks like they're sold out now It never got an EU release, but you should still be able to get it from America - Amazon.com seem to have it quite cheap, if you can get it shipped over here. Its a great game!



Froggievilleus said:

Flight Control is an OK game - not great. It would have been nice if there were any missions or unlockables. Air Traffic Chaos was a better game IMO.



postmanX3 said:

FYI - The iPhone version has the same multiplayer feature, as well as multi-touch support. So 500 points is really a rip-off.

This reassures me that my iPod Touch was an excellent investment...! Flight Control is one of my favorite iPod games.



Luigi-la-bouncy said:

For 79p it's a nice little distraction on the iPhone but (without owning DSi) I would have thought you you could do better for 500pts. Now Doodle Jump that's a high score game!



sylkirian said:

"it already costs five times more than the iPhone version."
Better buy iPhone then... Or not... That gadget is expensive.



47drift said:

Bought it and love it. No online leaderboards really isn't an issue at all. Hell, that's what forums are for!

Super addictive and great on the go. Just what all DSiWare titles should feel like!



diegoesgriam said:

Downloaded yestderday; overall is fun in short periods. I don't care about online rankings; but the lack of music....
If you don't have an iPhone is a good choice



tops2 said:

I got it this morning and only tried the first stage twice. Its fun.
I also though this could have been a 200pt game, but maybe its only because this game came out for the iPhone/iPod Touch at such a low price that 500pts seems "too much" in comparison. But not having the said Apple products, I'm really happy with the game (even though I've only played one stage.)



Bobpie said:

This review isn't good as it compares the DS version to the iPhone version, rather than reviewing the game itself. This actually looks fun.

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