Air Traffic Chaos
Die Hard 2 taught us that air traffic controllers have more things to worry about than simply landing planes. We'll stick with this video game.
Air Traffic Chaos is the type of niche game that makes us proud to be DS owners. Majesco's airport sim mirrors Diner Dash in that it forces you to multitask, except instead of waiting on hungry patrons, you must ferry airplanes to and from five different airports. While the touch screen controls work great and the premise is simple enough, things quickly become maddening, as you must do your best to make everyone happy without suffering a collision. It's these accidents that somewhat ruin the game's appeal, but overall, it's a fun way to get a peak at one of the world's most stressful jobs.
Arrivals and departures are two different beasts. The former, located on the left side of the touch screen, requires you to slow or increase a plane's speed, choose a runway, give it permission to land and then choose a gate. For departures, located on the right, you confirm the route, designate a runway, give permission to taxi (or hold if things get hairy) and then take-off. The faster you complete these objectives, the more points you'll earn. Meet each level's target goal and you win.
If only it were that easy. Each flight has a departure and arrival time, and although you can delay them indefinitely, pilots eventually become stressed and this affects your overall performance grade. In addition, you may have between five and eight flights to manage and very few gates, so what begins as a simple exercise quickly evolves into a frantic scramble. Meanwhile, you need to keep both eyes on which plane goes where, because a collision will end your air traffic career. Now factor in airports with different numbers of runways, some of which are international flights only, and you have good reason to freak out.
Of course, it's all in good fun, but the game does have some annoying issues, the worst being the inability to correct mistakes. If, for example, you accidentally instruct a plane to stop at an already occupied gate, it's game over. Not only is this a horrible design decision, but it also means the game's pilots are stupid enough to follow an order without questioning it. Crash into that plane you say? No problem.
Now take a look at those ugly 2-D graphics. For a system as powerful as the DS (it's powerful), we'd much rather see more elaborate looking planes and airports instead of bad SNES quality graphics. And despite having five airports, all of them are in Japan and the scenery, while different, shares much of the same color palette. Take us to Europe or even Africa. All the cool games go to Africa these days.
There's also very little reason to play this game after beating it. With no additional modes and features, you'll gain excellent scores for all the challenges and never play them again. That is, unless you love watching slow moving planes creep along the touch screen.
Nevertheless, you'll enjoy your first time through. Air Traffic Chaos is short on options, but it's a fun and original DS game for all ages, especially those that want a better idea of what happens thousands of feet in the air. Besides, it's great knowing that when we're stuck on the runway, we can make other people, even fake ones, suffer. That is, if the airline lets us use our electronic devices.
What's Hot: Multi-tasking between arrivals and departures is fun, that familiar "ding", catchy music.
What's Not: You cannot correct mistakes, pilots are idiots, fugly graphics, all Japanese airports, no free peanuts.