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Developer: Firemint
Price: $0.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPod touch 4, iPad 2

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Flight Control was one of the first games to go viral on the App Store, becoming a real smash hit. It’s kind of amazing that the game has taken this long to get a sequel, but it’s finally here: Flight Control Rocket. This spacebound sequel boasts the same core gameplay mechanic: land a colored ship on its same-colored lane, and prevent crashes. New in particular are the different ship types like extended snake ships, ships that split on touch, and ships that change speed when locked into a lane. Two changes to the gameplay have been made: now players can get multipliers for flying in ships of the same color, and players have three lives. There are two modes: an endless mode, and a level-based mode.

The core of the game is the same path management mechanic, and it’s still as fun to play as it was back when it released. There’s still that panic of when two ships are about to collide, and the combo system really makes for some frantic new strategy. Do I keep my double-digit combo going, even as other-colored ships begin to crowd the (lack-of-)airspace. Yes, the game uses Origin, which only really benefits EA, but it does utilize Game Center as well for leaderboards and achievements, and it automatically recognized my Origin account on login.

It feels like what Flight Control Rocket adds takes away a lot of its core simplicity, though. Now it feels like I’m playing as much for collecting the game’s new currency as I am for the pursuit of high scores. The game is always pushing to constantly earn coins and buy in-game items. The whole existence of the game and its structure represents a curious snapshot of the history of the App Store. Look back on the original Flight Control – simple, a one-time purchase. Now look at it: multiple modes, currencies, and in-app purchases.

On the smaller iPhone/iPod screen, prepare to activate the Notification Center pulldown tab often. This isn’t really the game’s fault as much as it is an iOS problem, but it is annoying and can obscure the top of the screen. Play on iPad if possible. It’s a universal app, so that’s very easy to accomplish. Also, the game seems to stick to its one set of landing strips, at least it does for a very long time; this is a space-based game, Firemint, don’t be afraid to get creative!

For better or for worse, the App Store (and Firemint with its acquisition by EA) has come a long way. The market is changing, and I don’t know if it’s for the better for a game like Flight Control Rocket. It’s still fun, but it feels worryingly like a business model as much as it does a game at times.

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