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Air Traffic Chaos

Flight simulations are in abundance, and until now the work performed by an Air Traffic Controller has gone unnoticed in videogames. Sitting in that tower, talking over radio and swapping cards representing planes, it’s a wonder why this high pressure job never found a publisher before. You won’t be surprised to learn that Air Traffic Chaos originates from Japan, where a monkey wearing a sombrero and shaking maracas is considered sane enough to release on a console.

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Finding its way onto the Nintendo DS then, Air Traffic Chaos utilises the stylus to good effect as you’ll be zipping about the screen managing up to 8 aircraft at once; 4 in the air, and 4 on the ground. Each goes through a stage that needs to be confirmed and then relayed, so your actions are delayed by a few seconds, adding further pressure to keep everything safe. When a plane comes into contact, it’ll radio in its identification and then proceed to circle round the airport awaiting further orders. The longer you leave a pilot on tender hooks, the more his stress level will rise, which also affects your own level of anger in the game. Maximising out this stress bar is game over, so you’re advised to take your time and be quick about it.

Once given clearance to land, a plane then descends and circles round to the runway, where landing can be aborted up until the wheels come down. After that it’s time to assign a gate and confirm the action. This sounds all rather easy, but when you’ve a few pilots in the air wanting to come down and planes on the ground that want to take off, tensions can rise. It’s a game of micromanagement akin to that of Diner Dash as you try to clear gates for incoming craft and stop them from colliding to and from the runway. And as if that isn’t stressful enough, some planes require taxiing across the runway to the other side of the airport, using yet more valuable time that could be better spent receiving and sending off flights.

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Each airport, of which there are five, has three difficulty levels which manages how many aircraft will pester you at once. Completing each stage with a good rating unlocks the higher difficulty, giving you 15 stages to contend with. You begin each level at the start of a shift which lasts a few hours, and your score is calculated by the amount of points gained by guiding in and sending off flights successfully and without incident. A ground or mid-air collision ends the round and you have to start again from the start of your shift, although there are no spectacular explosions. Perhaps the highlight has to be the roar of the engines as a jet comes into land, it certainly uses the sound capabilities of the DS to full effect.

The premise is simple and one that has been used a few times on the DS, but glossed over with the untapped Air Traffic Controller market. Air Traffic Chaos is by no means a must-have game, but more a quirky one at that which should provide a worthwhile distraction from the heavyweight titles such as Advance Wars and Zelda.

7 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is a Senior Staff Writer at Thunderbolt, having joined in June 2002.

Gentle persuasion

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