From the makers of the freemium hit Tiny Tower, comes another exercise in casual addiction. This time around, players can try their hand at airline management with Pocket Planes. It’s a strange little title– more of a virtual toy than a game– with charming 8-bit style retro graphics and dirt simple play mechanics.
The object is simple. Start an airline with only a few small planes and ferry passengers and cargo from one city to another. Players can choose their starting location from various ports of call all over the world, giving them access to a select group of travel destinations within that radius. Choose your cargo and routes accordingly, and it’s off to the skies.
I’ve been everywhere, man.
Planes remain in flight even when the game is minimized, and waiting is a major part of the gameplay. Successfully moving your precious cargo from one city to another earns coins and bux. Coins are used to upgrade airports and open access to new ones, while bux are used for new airplanes and airplane parts. Of course, impatient gamers can use real-world money at any time to buy bux as well. It is a freemium game after all.
The main problem with Pocket Planes is simply the lack of any challenge at all. It doesn’t matter if you carefully choose every route or simply send the planes anywhere– the end result is pretty much the same. There’s no losing here, and very little to do at all past directing cargo traffic. The gameplay doesn’t vary beyond simply opening new routes and acquiring new planes. While this is engaging at first, it quickly becomes repetitive and outright boring, because even new planes don’t discernibly change or improve the gameplay.
Don’t crush the cargo.
Granted, most freemium games are low on challenge. These games are designed to be played by anyone, anywhere without fear of actually losing. Like Tiny Tower, Pocket Planes is meant to be an amusing endeavor with plenty of options for customizing the game to suit the player. There’s no denying that it’s fun to fill up the cute little planes with cute little people and send them off, and constantly earning money is addictive. We just wish there was more to do, although the ability to compete for high scores and stats on worldwide leaderboards adds some much-needed sense of competition.
Pocket Planes will likely appeal to many casual gamers who like the idea of being able to focus on the simple, semi-strategic gameplay for a minute here and there, and watch their airline grow. Anyone looking for something more, however, will be left unimpressed.