Good news, everyone! The wait for the DSiWare port of Airport Mania: First Flight is finally over. Combining aspects of both the WiiWare version and the watered-down Airport Mania: Non-Stop Flights — already available on their respective services — this is definitely a game worthy of closer inspection.
As stated above, this game takes the good features from both previous games (mostly from the WiiWare version) and combines them into a great portable experience. If you’ve already played either of the other titles, or if you’ve read either of the reviews that we have already posted for them, then you know exactly how this game works. Because of this, rather than discussing the mechanics of the game, it is more important to discuss exactly what sets this apart from the others.
While the game follows the same formula as the original, in that it's your job to direct air traffic while advancing through a series of levels, the amount of levels is greatly reduced. The eight groups of levels still exist, but this time they contain anywhere from five to eight levels within, coming to a grand total of 48 playable stages. Though the level count is fewer than its predecessor, the fun and replayability has not been diminished in the slightest. The addictive gameplay of directing planes to land, unload passengers at the gate, reload and take off remains untouched, so fans of the series are sure to enjoy this instalment. The goal in the game is still to gain the highest score by being an effective air traffic controller, and the same purchasable upgrades, such as quicker refuelling stations and more runways, still exist to make your job easier as well.
Beyond the high scoring and upgrade purchasing that keeps dragging players in to this game is the inclusion of the Awards system. Awards are basically achievements that you earn for performing certain tasks in-game, such as repairing 250 airplanes or completing all of the levels. While earning these Awards does not actually unlock any new content, the motivation to play and replay the levels is increased simply by the fact that these achievements exist. For any completionists out there, the Awards system is a great inclusion in this title.
The only thing that Airport Mania: First Flight really has in common with Non-Stop Flights is the control scheme, but even that seems to have been improved. This game will see you using the touch screen to land planes, load them up, and send them back in the air, but the ridiculous clutter problem that came along with Non-Stop Flights has almost completely disappeared. Because First Flight is divided into separate levels rather than containing one endless mode, the screen never gets a chance to be too cluttered before a level ends. While it is true that some of the later levels can get pretty difficult, the clutter very rarely becomes an actual problem.
Conspicuously missing from this version of First Flight is the multiplayer mode. While the WiiWare version’s multiplayer was nothing special, it would have been nice to see a head to head or co-op mode available on the DSi version using Download Play, but alas, it is absent.
The aesthetics from the previous instalments remain exactly the same: adorable graphics and endearing music to go along with it. While the audio and visual maybe be too cartoony and not appeal to all gamers, it really does help make a potentially stressful game much more relaxing. When all is said and done, the graphics and sounds fit the game perfectly and really bring the entire experience together in a cute and fun package.
For everyone who has been holding their breath in anticipation of a full DSiWare release of Airport Mania: First Flight, you may now exhale. Your next move should be to immediately purchase this game. While it is not a completely perfect port of the beloved WiiWare version, it's still a fantastic game with almost all of the charm that made the original so good. Despite its few flaws, being priced at only 200 Points makes this game a must-have.