When I first saw Flight Control HD ($4.99) on the iPad, I thought it would be a hideously boring game. Right, you want me to sit here and land planes? Seriously? Don’t air traffic controllers have the most stressful jobs? How could turning their jobs into a game really be any fun? So, I didn’t touch the game for several weeks. But I kept hearing people say how much they liked the game and challenging others to beat their high score. So, I eventually gave the game a try…and I’ve been hooked on it ever since. When I am playing the game, I have taken to shushing people who try to talk to me while I am playing and telling them I am too busy trying to land all of my planes.

The premise of the game is simple. You have four landing strips for planes and two helipads, all of various colours. As the planes and helicopters enter the screen, you give them a flight path to the correct landing strip or helipad using your finger to trace the path. The goal is to land as many of them as you can without letting any of them crash. Simple enough, right? Until you have 20 planes and 5 helicopters on your screen at the same time and their various flight paths look a lot like a plate of spaghetti. Each round is a slowly building crescendo of stress and excitement as you direct planes with your fingers like a maestro. By the end of the round, your fingers are flying trying to avert one crash after the next until it all comes crashing down in a blaze of glory as two planes finally collide.

I get a real kick out of the feel of the game. The music playing in the background of the game is oddly chipper, jazzy, elevator-type music that will often have you snapping your fingers along in time. As each plane or helicopter is successfully landed, quaint British congratulatory words, like “splendid,” “good show,” and “jolly good,” flash briefly across the screen. Along with the opening picture of a classically attired female flight attendant, you kind of feel like you are a pilot from the 50s jaunting off on your next adventure.

The game also offers a number of neat two-player options. One of these is a split-screen where two players each take half the screen and either work together to land as many planes as possible or compete against each other to land more than your opponent. The other option is to play the game simultaneously on two separate iPads, so that each player has an entire screen.

What’s great about this game?

The game is based on such a simple concept and yet it is incredibly challenging. It’s hugely addictive, especially when someone beats your high score and you just can’t quit until you regain the top. The aesthetics are pleasing and game play is really simple to catch onto.

What could be improved?

To be honest, not much. The one complaint I might have is related to the music. As I’ve already mentioned, I like the theme song of the game. However, when you play a round of the game, after the song plays through once, it doesn’t play again. It would be nice if the song was either looped to play the whole time or if there was a series of songs that played. I can always choose to turn the music off if I decide I don’t like it, but there is no way to keep the game’s music playing if you want it to last beyond the one song. Of course, you can always choose to play your own music out of the iPod app from this game.

Overall, this has been one of my favourite games for the iPad so far. I anticipate many future hours wasted playing it. If you want to give it a try, you can pick up Flight Control HD on the App Store for $4.99. And there is also Flight Control available for the iPhone for $0.99. See if you can beat my current high score of 118 safely landed planes and helicopters on the default map. Although I think I’m going to go play another round right now, so that score may be even higher soon!

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