Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No! It's NimbleBit's new game!
If we look at some of our favorite titles on the App Store, they all have an art style that's immediately recognizable as belonging to a particular developer. The eyeball-melting neon hues of Hexage's Robotek are also to be found in Radiant Defense, and no-one can mistake a Radiangames title for anything else when they see one. Similarly, anyone who fell in (or out) of love with Tiny Tower will immediately recognize the gorgeous pixel people crafted by NimbleBit for their new game Pocket Planes.
As in their previous title, you need to balance expansion with profit as you make your journey from the owner of a small fleet of aircraft to a Richard Branson-like overlord of the skies. You start by working through all of your planes, each of which have different cargo capabilities, and assigning jobs that involve either transporting people or goods to a huge variety of airports on the game's global map.
You're encouraged to plan carefully and economize by taking multiple people and cargo to the same location. Do so and you'll get a percentage multiplier added to your eventual reward, adding some much needed strategy and thought to the title.
You'll definitely want to prioritize taking cargo and passengers that reward with Bux (rather than gold) whenever they appear, as its this in-game currency that allows you to purchase new airports, planes and gradually expand your transport empire. Alternatively you can buy new parts piece by piece as money allows, as well as receiving them as rewards whenever you expand your airport ownership.
Once you've set up your pilots with an activity, each plane heads into an animation screen where a timer ticks down the time until arrival. If you want to stay active with the game rather than simply waiting for a notification, you can tap on the coins that occasionally appear while your planes are flying through the skies. These coins don't add a huge amount to your tally of gold but it's nice to have something to do when you're not actively planning out your next strategic move.
A great idea from Nimble Bit is the Flight Crew mode which allows you to team up with friends to deal with a variety of delivery objectives. Should you succeed, you can lay claim to a series of Bux-based prizes to help grow your burgeoning airplane tycoon dreams. All in all, this is a deeper and far more satisfying experience than their previous release, and Flight Crew is a fascinating use of co-operative, competitive play on the App Store.
There's a lot to love about Pocket Planes. The game contains an intriguing blend of strategy, management and under-the-hood tinkering, and in contrast to the deceptive Tiny Tower there's much more genuine depth to the game beyond a superficial appeal to obsessiveness. Whether you felt burned out by that game or not, we highly recommend you try out NimbleBit's brand new addiction.
What's Hot: Pure addiction combined with far more strategy than Tiny Tower's rather transparent Skinner box offered up.
What's Not: The game's tutorial could be refined to better teach you the fundamentals.