After the monumental success of Nimblebit's Tiny Tower on mobile devices, it comes as no surprise that the playful 8-bit graphics made famous by the tower-building phenomenon would return in future titles. Such is the case with tonight's release of Pocket Planes on iPhone and iPad. We've known this game was coming for some time now, but are just learning what really makes the game tick.
Similar to the elevator mechanic in Tiny Tower, the overall goal of Pocket Planes is to help passengers and cargo make it from one place to another. You'll be given a starting fleet of a handful of planes, and can choose from a variety of worldwide locations within which to set up your base. For the sake of argument, I chose to start in Adelaide, Australia. Each time a plane lands in an airport (you can unlock more airports all around the world as you play), you'll be able to fill it with cargo or passengers that require transportation to another city. The farther away a city is, the longer it will take your plane to reach its destination, but of course speeds have been greatly decreased to add to the game's playability. That is, instead of taking a few hours for a plane to travel from New York to Los Angeles, it will only take a few minutes.
When planes land, you'll receive coins relative to how long the journey lasted, and can even earn free Bux (the game's premium currency) for transporting celebrities or otherwise priceless objects (an alien artifact, the Hope Diamond, and so on). There are loads of pop culture references among the thousands of passenger and cargo options you can randomly come across, and you can increase your passenger and crew variety by purchasing different "skins," like ones for Mario and Luigi, the cartoon monster Domo, and even Santa. Of course, Bitbook (a virtual version of Facebook used by the game's characters) makes a return as well, with clever quips from passengers filling Bitbook's virtual news feed.
The customization options go one step further, allowing you to upgrade and paint your planes to create as colorful (and powerful) a fleet of planes as your heart desires, and you can purchase additional planes with your profits in order to increase your productivity. The game's menu system is more complicated than that of Tiny Tower, and is unfortunately a bit unintuitive at first, as the game's tutorial is rather short and lacking. Still, it's easy to get into the rhythm of Pocket Planes, and before you know it, a few hours will have been sucked out of your day as you watch your tiny planes fly to and fro.
An Android version of Pocket Planes will be released sometime down the line, but for now, feel free to download the game on your iPhone or iPad for the low, low price of free.
Click here to download Pocket Planes on iTunes --->
Have you tried Pocket Planes yet? What do you think of this mobile version of an airline simulator? Sound off in the comments!