Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2
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Along with Air Mail, Chillingo put another new flying game in their last batch of App Store offerings. While Tiny Plane may not be as flashy and involved, it’s a charming, colorful, pick-up-and-play title with lots to recommend it.
An endless flyer, Tiny Plane has a difficulty level that harkens back to the arcade. The object, of course, is to keep the little plane flying for as long as possible, but unlike similar iOS titles where 10-minute games and million-point scores are easily achieved with the help of purchasable upgrades, power-ups, and skips, Tiny Plane keeps it simple. The only things to buy with the in-game currency are different planes with special, but limited, powers. Games are shorter, more challenging and keep me coming back for more.
The game uses a double-touch control mechanism. Gamers can move the canine aviator hero upwards with a tap on the left side of the screen, while tapping the right initiates his descent. The controls are responsive and alternate placements are available in the settings.
The other key difference, one that had this gamer almost pulling out her hair, is refuelling. Some gas tanks can be found in the air, but for the most part players must pull off a perfect touch-down and then quickly rise back up in order to keep the plane from sputtering to a crash.
Aside from that, the game is familiar. There are coins to collect, along with fruit, shields, and the aforementioned gas. And, there are obstacles to be avoided including balloons that force the plane upwards, deadweights that drag it down and bombs and missiles that destroy it entirely. There are also rings to fly through that give serious speed boosts.
While there are an assortment of planes – which must be bought with in-app currency as Tiny Plane is blessedly without in-app purchases – those same aircraft are also scattered in the sky. With some nimble moves, players can fly several different types in every game, each with its own power such as missile resistance or balloon immunity. There is even a hardcode mode for those whose flying - and landing - skills are far better than mine.
The question as to why a dog is in the cockpit is unclear, but the choice and the art style recalls a simpler time, when Hanna-Barbera style animation was hip. The graphics are cartoonishly colored, and the sound effects catoonishly cute.
Tiny Plane is simple in premise, but less so in execution, making it an ideal choice for endless fans looking for a ramped up challenge, and for those who prefer that their games build replay value based not on tricks, but rather on a compulsion to beat the machine.