Because it's Saturday, and I'm feeling a little flighty after all the unseasonably cool weather we've had in Edmonton this past week, I'm going to take off the 'tech-head' hat and take a look at three AirTraffic Control games (for three different platforms).
The first thing to remember through these thumbnail reviews; an unstated yet obvious rule is to keep the aircraft separated. As in real life,when two aircraft share the same airspace; bad things happen. Time management and organization are key skills you'll need.
Air Traffic Chaos (for the Nintendo DS)
This is a great little game that quickly teaches you some of the key mechanics of Air Traffic Control (ATC). You assume the role of the Local Traffic Controller, and Ground Controller, managing aircraft in your airspace.
Your duties include accepting air traffic as it arrives, assigning it a landing slot, and finally clearing it to a gate. And you get to do the reverse too; clear freshly-loaded aircraft to taxi to a runway, and clear them for departure.
The game gets challenging as more aircraft arrive at your airport. Air Traffic Chaos includes 5 airports modeled on real ones scattered around Japan. You start at the easiest (Fukuoka) and as you succeed through more difficult levels, unlock the other four (Kansai, Chubu, Tokyo, New Chitose).
The challenge in this game is in your timing; you must have gates free for aircraft to taxi into, otherwise they can't leave the runway...which prevents other planes from landing or taking off.
Flight Control (iPhone | iPod Touch)
It's the casual gaming break-away hit for the iPhone and iPod Touch because it's freakin' addictive!
Flight Control is a simple game. All you have to do is land the aircraft. Simply tap on one and draw a line to the landing end of the runway (or the (H) for the helicopter). It's that easy. And therin lies the rub...aircraft keep coming, and coming and coming!
The challenge here is that aircraft travel at different speeds. It's up to you to keep them safe by guiding them around each other, dump them into holding patterns, whatever. It'll get hairy, trust me
FireMint(Flight Control's developers) recently upgraded the game to include an online leaderboard. It's location based (leveraging the iPhone's ability to know where you are in the real world), so you can compete against local controllers. If you're on Twitter (if not you should be!) follow the #flightcontrol hashtag to follow this title's buzz.
I've had the game for about a month now (and still love it), but have only achieved a score of 81. Some controllers are above 500. Amazing!
Thisis the most 'realistic' ATC simulator of the bunch. In the free version (donate for access to over 50 additional airports) you play the part of a controller at Chicago's O'hare International; the busiest airspace in the world.
Unlike the more casual games described above, with ATC Sim you've got a whole host of commands available to incoming and departing aircraft including; speed and altitude changes, descreet heading changes, navigation directions to beacons and hold points.
The challenge here is not so much one of too many aircraft, it's more the challenge real ATC have by ensuring aircraft are going the proper speed and arrive at particular points in space and time (the runway, the nav. beacon, etc) without running out of fuel. The simulator also includes wind effects (which impacts runway selection), missed approaches and other real-world-type features.
If you're looking for more of a real-life sample of an ATC simulator, then give ATC Sim a try If you're looking for something to kill a bit of time, then look at Flight Control or Air Traffic Chaos.
Or did I miss your favourite ATC type game? If so, let me know! I've been a fan of these types of games since I discovered one for the Amiga, and am always looking for a new challenge.
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