Of course, DSiWare games also tend to be small in size and throwaway games at the best of times, and shovelware in most cases. Airport Mania: First Flight is, indeed, a throwaway little game but it's just enough fun that it doesn’t deserve to be considered shovelware at all.
|That's one happy plane|
It is a basic time management game. By now, most of us have played one or two of these games somewhere – if not Diner Dash, then one of the many subsequent copies – other good examples of the genre include Supermarket Mania and my personal favourite, Farm Frenzy.
They all feature a common theme – there’s a lot of stuff happening at once, and you need to cut through the chaos to make sure everything is running smoothly and the customers are happy. Airport Mania is no different: In this instance you need to run an airport, and make sure planes are landing, disembarking passengers, getting new passengers, refuelling and being maintained.
This is footage of the WiiWare version. The DSiWare game is much the same, but without the multiplayer game
Planes are also coloured, and if you want to get a really good score, you need to make sure red planes continue to use the red passenger gate. Send a yellow plane over that way and the score multiplier will be erased.
On each level you're given a series of targets. Just passing is easy enough but earning three-star ratings can be an utter nightmare, especially on the later levels – though the game does a good job of balancing the difficulty curve, there are a lot of levels to play through, and the challenge level does get right up there. Those of us with less advanced time management skills will find those levels stressful indeed.
|I like how this game gives you a tick for being late; everyone wins!|
The stress is reduced somewhat by the presentation – the planes are cute and the various airports are colourful. The music is a touch on the soft side and you can tell this is a low budget production with some very amateur moments of presentation but Airport Mania is, overall, a happy experience.
These kinds of games are a natural fit for the 3DS and other touch-screen enabled consoles as the busy work needs the ability to make very quick and very accurate selections. Airport Mania is easy to pick up and play for short bursts and, at a very cheap price of admission, is a safe buy. It’s not essential by any means but if you're in the mood for a time management game, here’s a decent one.