Flight Control Review: Strategy Vs. ScribbleS

Nick Denton, who runs this whole network of blogs of which Kotaku is a part, has one 2009 game he really likes. Since we're catching up this month on 2009 games we missed, we asked him to review it.

Fans of the iPhone and iPod Touch game Flight Control are everywhere. My 7-year-old nephew runs his finger over the iPhone screen as if he's making a messy painting, but manages to land the game's planes with surprising effectiveness. And I recently discovered that the air traffic control game was the secret recreation of a 50-something technology investor I was meeting for lunch.

Loved
Welcome Appeal: Flight Control achieves the holy grail of casual games: It is easy for the uninitiated, requiring nothing more than a finger to trace a path for the helicopters, propellor planes and jets that need to be brought in to land without colliding with one another. (The game is two-dimensional, so planes can't fly over each other.) But the Firemint game requires time and skill to master.

Deeply Strategic:: Once I had established that Will Leitch, the sports writer, was a fellow addict, I settled into an arcane discussion about whether it was better to establish consistent flying patterns. For a while I thought it was best to bring planes in to land on a grand sweeping anti-clockwise flight path looping north over the main runway while landing slower craft from the south. But Leitch preferred to land planes as rapidly and directly as one could; elegance be damned. And his record score — well into three figures, a level I barely reached — indicated that was the better strategy.

Hated
Sharp Turns: I have a few problems with Flight Control. The game allows jagged flight paths with bizarrely abrupt turns. I'd like to declare that my objections are technical; that passenger craft require gentler turning circles. But my real objection may be instead that style seems to favor my nephew's haphazard finger tracing.

[*From Totilo: Denton sits right next to me at work. I can tell you what his conclusion would be. He told me that this is the game to play. Told me that just about on my first day of working here. Then I told him I didn't have an iPhone yet. Thankfully, I'm still employed here.]

Flight Control was developed by Firemint for the Apple iPhone and iPod touch in the spring of 2009. Retails for $0.99 USD.

NOTE: Throughout the month of December, Kotaku will review some of the games that we missed earlier in the year. We're catching up.

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