Part of iOS’s legacy is that it helped launch a number of new genres tailor-made for the device’s touchscreen. In addition to tower defense and physics puzzlers, one of the most popular emerging genres is line-drawing games, where you trace a path on the screen with your finger to lead your characters to their goals. Today’s featured series, Flight Control, was the first to popularize this genre, and made a household name out of Australian developer Firemint.
Launched in 2009, Flight Control revolutionized touchscreen gaming with a brand-new concept. As an air traffic controller, your job is to guide errant airplanes onto the runway without letting them crash. It’s a high-score game that slowly ratchets up the pressure– unless you opt to fast-forward through the boring parts. When it first launched, we were very impressed by the novel concept and clean presentation, and when Firemint added additional levels, we were hooked.
Key Quote: Similar to time management staples like Diner Dash, Flight Control takes a tedious profession like Air Traffic Controller and molds it into a light-hearted and engaging experience.
Flight Control HD
The main limitation of Flight Control on an iPhone or iPod Touch was that the screen was too small to support multiple players. This was fixed by the move to the iPad in 2010, with an HD version of Flight Control that let you play cooperatively with a friend. The HD version also included a silly “3D” mode, which required red/cyan glasses. For early iPad owners, this was a Must Have game.
Key Quote: Flight Control HD is just about everything we could have wanted in the iPad remake, and we commend Firemint for reigniting a genre that died months ago.
Flight Control Rocket
Firemint was acquired by Electronic Arts in 2011, and the next Flight C0ntrol game was released as a free download with in-app purchases. While this may have allowed for a lot more downloads than a paid version, the gameplay suffered slightly as a result. We enjoyed the game’s sci-fi theme, where you have to guide spaceships instead of airplanes, but the increased difficulty and freemium model were problematic. There hasn’t been a new Flight Control game since then, but Firemint (now merged with mobile developer IronMonkey to form a new company, Firemonkeys) has been hard at work on the Real Racing series, which we’ll cover in a future installment.
Key Quote: The game, when viewed purely by the overall level design is a lot of fun. Unfortunately, it’s a dollar game that acts like a freemium special. So much of the rest of the game is obsessed with trying to get players to buy more coins and other junk that it’s actually distracting.
Tomorrow, we’ll fall into the incredible first-person adventure series, Myst.
This article is part of a series about the best games on iOS, 2008-2013. You can read the rest here.