(DSiWare)

Game Review

Airport Mania: Non-Stop Flights Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Philip J Reed

Economy class

In November, Nintendo Life received an unexpected – and quite pleasant – shock from a little game called Airport Mania: First Flight. It was a release that flew in from totally off the radar, and immediately became one of our favorite games on the WiiWare service.

It was a deceptively deep, engaging game of time- and resource-management. It was adorable, fun and, above all, utterly addictive.

A DSiWare version, of course, seemed like a no-brainer. It was a great game, and one with a central concept so simple that it almost seemed tailor-made for the tapping of an increasingly-frantic stylus. And while it was difficult for us to pull ourselves away from the WiiWare game as the hours ticked by, its formula seemed perfect for on-the-go gaming as well.

The folks at Reflexive Entertainment, however, decided to give us something other than a direct port for now (though they have told us to expect one before long), and while the result is by no means a bad one, it does fail to instill the same sense of joy as its WiiWare counterpart.

The central goals and gameplay haven't changed from the previous release, and so there's little use in reiterating them here. Therefore it is worth reading our Airport Mania: First Flight review if you haven't already, as it will give you a good idea of whether or not you're interested in this game in the first place. If you are, then read on, and we'll discuss the differences.

Here, the experience is not broken down into self-contained levels taking place at various airports. Everything unfolds on a single airport, and it's up to you to guide an infinite stream of aircraft down, service them and send them up again on their way. The scoring/shopping system is still in place, as is the "mood" of the planes themselves. Earn a large enough score, and you'll find yourself on the (local) high score list. Make five planes grumpy enough to desert you, and the game will end.

Non-Stop Flights is essentially a standalone endless mode, available separately from the level-based experience of First Flight. This is both bad and good. It's good because it uses for its foundation a great game, and gives us a new way to experience it, but it's also bad, because the endless mode on its own is a pretty flimsy experience by comparison. Anybody who enjoys this would likely prefer a more complete experience, or at least some of the achievements or random events that helped keep First Flight feeling so fresh, level after level.

Robbed of those features, Non-Stop Flights can sometimes feel like the beta version of a much better game. It's fun and it's competent, but it's missing that sense of accomplishment and cohesion that better games (including the WiiWare version of this one) have.

Planes still circle the airport, and you still guide them in for landing, boarding and maintenance. You still juggle available lanes and layover spots, and you still upgrade your airport. But beyond that, there's nothing to do apart from aim for a high score. And while this is enjoyable enough to be recommended, it also feels like a big step back for the series.

Further issues are raised by the controls in this version. While the stylus might seem like a natural fit for the game, the small size of the touchscreen means it gets crowded fast, and it's extremely difficult when things get hectic to tap buildings or hangars that are nearly obscured by a plane sitting in front of it. Tapping the wrong thing in the heat of the moment can make all the difference between keeping your chains going and getting an immediate game over, so this is a serious concern. The problem is compounded when you have several planes clustered in a small area (as is bound to happen eventually), and their little thought balloons almost entirely obscure the facilities you need to tap in order to get to move on.

The upper screen is put to some pretty wasteful use, as it just displays the planes circling the airport (which are already clearly enough indicated by icons on the touchscreen) and the irrelevant time of day, but that's more of an observation than a flaw. Also, the game's volume – even when cranked all the way up in the options menu – seemed strangely low, to the point that its quietness was sometimes distracting. Hopefully that will be corrected in a future release.

The game still plays very well, though, and the graphics are still charming and cartoony. Likewise, the great music from the WiiWare version will do its best to keep you calm as your little airport is besieged by grumpy, grumbly fliers who are perfectly happy to land somewhere else entirely if you don't cater quickly enough to their every whim.

Overall, the biggest flaw in this game is that it never stops reminding you of how much better the full release was. It's not at all a bad game, but it certainly does make you wish the complete port was arriving now instead.

For those looking for some quick and challenging action on the go, Non-Stop Flights could definitely fit the bill, but for anybody who wanted a more-complete port of the original... well... it looks like it got lost somewhere in transit. Along with your luggage.

Conclusion

Your first class tickets might have gotten downgraded, but Airport Mania: Non-Stop Flights can still be addictive in its own right. This release feels a bit slight compared to its meatier sibling on WiiWare and that's unfortunate, but for now this is all we've got. The lack of achievements to strive for and levels to conquer and replay do limit this game's appeal for everyone apart from high-score chasers, but those who give it a chance are likely to enjoy whatever time they do choose to spend with it. That bargain pricetag doesn't hurt, either... we just wish it aimed a little higher.

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User Comments (25)

Spoony_Tech

#1

Spoony_Tech said:

I'm thinking about getting this game but have not played the original. The review has put me on the fence though. Only 200 points isn't much of a risk though but I'm wanting more strategy. Ugh need to think about.

mnoah

#2

mnoah said:

Nice review philip!
i'm going for it
another 200 point slam-dunk!
like the guy before me; i haven't played
the origonal but is wiling to risk it

ueI

#3

ueI said:

I won't get this since I already have the original. The difference seems to essentially be that I'll get bored of this faster, with only one level and all the same important features.

Kid_A

#4

Kid_A said:

That's a bummer. Had it kept the same gameplay as the WiiWare one it would have been an insta-download.

Great review, Phil!

slidecage

#6

slidecage said:

wonder why nintendo would approve this but not the full verison first... too bad they wouldnt put part 1 and part 2 on the dsiwere download but with part 2 just coming out on pc that will never happen...

when i first got the game i though man i wasted 2 bucks,but the game is fun to pick up and play every few days ..... worth the 2 bucks just to have something to pick up and play and just mess around with it..

i like to know why the developer is saying you can get to the shop at anytime when i know it just pops up at random times

cyrus_zuo

#7

cyrus_zuo said:

@slidecage: You can access the shop anytime you have enough money to buy something. When you do the shop icon appears, likewise if you don't have enough money to buy anything you won't see the icon for the shop.

As to why Non-Stop Flights was released before First Flight on DSiWare, we're still getting through lotcheck, so that's really our fault (though certainly not by intent!). For what it is worth, I worried a lot about which one of the DSiWare games would be released first. I didn't want anyone to get one and then wish they'd gotten the other, but I guess that is unavoidable. I certainly feel they are both worth having and are complimentary :).

I appreciated the review and hope people will enjoy the game. As someone who has played through First Flight a few times it is fun to have something to pick up and play that isn't just replaying a level you've already played, but I love the structure and progression through the airports of First Flight as well. Good points made throughout the review.

Odnetnin

#8

Odnetnin said:

^ Now that's the attitude towards not quite "glowing" reviews I like to see.
as opposed to, you know, the dev making a fake account and blaspheming the review

slidecage

#11

slidecage said:

my shop got hit with the fat finger bug.... that is when your fat finger blocks out the image on the screen :) thanks for the reply though

RaylaxStaff

#12

Raylax said:

For 200 points, I'm definately tempted to pick this up, and then I can pick up the full version later if I like it. Any word on an EU release date?

cyrus_zuo

#16

cyrus_zuo said:

@Raylax: Nothing on the EU release date yet...we are working through lotcheck with all three Airport Mania titles, it's just taking us awhile to get every detail right :). It's possible the DSiWare versions might even come out in a different order in EU. We do have a Facebook page that we update with release info when we get it from Nintendo: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Airport-Mania/82800324271

xxx_Kirby_xxx

#18

xxx_Kirby_xxx said:

Dx When does this come to UK/EU? It seems heaps of games say to be announced when it comes to UK/EU...... :L

Philip_J_ReedStaff

#20

Philip_J_Reed said:

@slidecage:
Lotcheck is Nintendo's approval process. It's where they (theoretically) catch bugs, glitches, or other potential concerns. I'm probably simplifying it somewhat, but that's basically it.

The three titles he's referring to (I think) are First Flight for WiiWare, First Flight for DSiWare, and Non-Stop Flights for DSiWare.

cyrus_zuo

#21

cyrus_zuo said:

Sorry about the lotcheck confusion, yes it is the Nintendo approval process. For us it has usually been a 6-9 month process.

And Chicken Brutus got the 3 titles I was referring to.
In happy news, Non-Stop Flights is doing really well so far. It's at #10 today on DSiWare. The game is getting a much warmer reception on DSiWare than First Flight got on WiiWare.

shaiy

#22

shaiy said:

Great review! I too am on the fence about this one....maybe I should wait for a more Wii-like verson of this....but then again, it's only 200 pts. See?! ......Ugh!..........

xxx_Kirby_xxx

#24

xxx_Kirby_xxx said:

When does this come out in the UK/EU? I really need to know. I had 400 points, I bought DodoGo! Robo, this will be the last game I buy.

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