Air Traffic Chaos
I came across Air Traffic Chaos while looking for DS games that support the little used Rumble Pak, the GBA cartridge sized force-feedback accessory for the DS and DS Lite. Ordinarily I would not have even picked up this Majesco published game due to the comically bad front cover art which includes a westernized anime character saying, by means of a speech bubble, "I am an air traffic controller". It is a shame that many would overlook this game on the basis of its cover art, but understandable given the volume of shovelware on the system.
More the shame since the back cover, manual and game all feature wonderfully crafted anime characters, and also the fact that Air Traffic Chaos is far from the shovelware it may be confused for. It is an excellent game that has been thoughtfully and artfully constructed.
More of a puzzle game than a simulation the game has you co-ordinate up to eight planes through the take-off and landing process. This involves instructing pilots to increase and decrease their approach speeds, assigning runways and gates and directing planes on the ground where and when to taxi. At first this seems simple, even tedious, but before long you are juggling three or four landing planes, two or three departing planes and doing everything you can to avoid a game-ending in-air collision or tarmac crash.
The Rumble Pak adds to the experience by vibrating the DS with each take-off and landing. Sound design is also well done with plenty of familiar airline sounds including the muffled monotone of pilots.
Each airport has three difficulty levels to master and like all great puzzle games there is much replay to be had.
Air Traffic Chaos is a fun, challenging game that introduces tension into gameplay like few games do. Its Japanese design, handled by Sonic Powered and Lichterfeld, reminded me of the civilian flight-sim Jet de Go, a Japan-only release for the Playstation that supported the PocketStation. Both are great games, which I'd encourage you to land (har har) should you see them flying around.
- Phil Fogg