We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message
Games software Reviews
15,670 Reviews

Pocket Planes for iPhone and iPad review

Free

Manufacturer: NimbleBit LLC

Our Rating: We rate this 3.5 out of 5

Pocket Planes for iPhone and iPad review: This app is taking off (excuse the pun) on the Apple App store. We found the airline sim fun, but a bit slow-moving.

In the terrific little iPhone and iPad Game Tiny Tower, developer Nimblebit tasked you with building a tower that reached into the clouds. The game maker must have decided that the only place to go was up, as its latest app—Pocket Planes—has you build an empire across the skies. The casual airline sim is a decent download for your iPhone or iPad, even if it never reaches the heights of Tiny Tower. Visit Best Apple apps.

In Pocket Planes, you’re in charge of a tiny airline with big dreams. You’ve got a small regional operation moving people and cargo between a smattering of airports, but you can use the money you earn from tasks to expand your fleet, open new routes, and—eventually—build a transport juggernaut that spans the globe. Controlling where your planes are headed and what they’re carrying to their final destination can be handled with a series of taps, and an in-game tutorial walks you through the basics the first time you launch the app. You’ll be up and flying in no time. See also: New iPad review.

Pocket Planes features the same old-school 8-bit graphics you’ll find in Tiny Tower, and they’re every bit as charming here. A lot of thought clearly went into the look and feel of Pocket Planes, especially the sound effects. Besides the roar of plane engines as they take off and land, you’ll hear that familiar airplane chime when one of your planes is loaded up and ready to fly. It’s a really polished game.

But there’s a big problem with the gameplay that’s likely to turn off some casual gamers. One of the great things about Tiny Tower is that you can play the game in fits and starts, but still continue to progress. Your 8-bit tower residents continue to toil away, even when you’re not playing the game, so that the next time you launch Tiny Tower, you have a larger pile of cash on hand to keep improving your building. That’s why I’m still playing Tiny Tower nearly a year after first launching the app, with a building that’s 155 stories tall and growing. (And no, I do not need other hobbies, thank you very much.)

Pocket Planes for iOS

That happens in Pocket Planes, too, but at a much slower pace. The legs between flights are short—especially in the early going—and the financial gains from flights small, so it takes some time to build up the cash you need to expand your operations. And you will need a lot of cash, both in the form of coins and Bux, to get anything done. Want to buy a new plane? You’ll have to spend Bux on acquiring the parts and assembling them; you’ll also need to spend coins adding a slot for this newly built plane in your fleet. Setting up shop in a new airport costs you some coin as well. Whereas you could play Tiny Tower at your own pace and never have to part with a dime of real-world money, progressing in Pocket Planes either requires a lot of patience or a spate of in-app purchases to build up your virtual bankroll. While I don’t begrudge app makers their right to earn a buck I find the pay-up-or-play-at-a-snail’s-pace approach to be a little off-putting.

And that’s a shame, because there’s a really engaging idea behind Pocket Planes. I like the ability to plan out how to expand my airline, from assembling planes that are better suited to longer routes to spreading my reach from one continent to another. I also like how Pocket Planes uses iCloud syncing to keep your game up-to-date across multiple iOS devices: There’s no need for me to cover the same ground on my iPad that I’ve already taken care of on my iPhone. I’m less impressed that the app turns on notifications by default and forces you to go into Notification Center to turn them off if you don’t want your phone constantly reminding you that one of your cargo planes has landed in Reykjavik.

Pocket Planes for iOS review

Pocket Planes for iOS Expert Verdict »

Size: 17.3MB
Compatible with: iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.Requires iOS 5.0 or later.
  • Overall: We give this item 7 of 10 overall

There’s a lot to like about Pocket Planes, particularly if you’re a fan of world-building sims. I just wish there was as much to love about the game as there is with Tiny Tower.

  • Monster Life

    Monster Life

    Monster Life is a charming free game for iPhone, iPad and Google Android. Here's our Monster Life for iOS review.

  • Pocket Britain review

    Pocket Britain

    Britain is in the spotlight, with the Queen's Diamond Jubilee upon us and the Olympic Games set to be held in London 2012. The UK is about to be hit with an onslaught of visitors, to whom the availability of decent tourist information will be critical to the enjoyment of their stay. Pocket Britain is here to help, with its free and very useful Android app.

  • Tiny Heroes review

    Tiny Heroes

    Tower defence on iPhone gets tougher but more satisfying with Tiny Heroes

  • Air Control for Android review

    Air Control for Android

    Air Control is a simple game for Android, but it is also surprisingly addictive.

  • Flight Control for iPhone review

    Flight Control for iPhone

    Flight Control wouldn't exist without the iPhone. The unique gameplay is perfectly suited to the device, and I'm hopelessly addicted.


IDG UK Sites

Best Black Friday 2014 tech deals UK: Latest bargains on phones, tablets, laptops and more this...

IDG UK Sites

Tech trends 2015: 3D printing grows up

IDG UK Sites

10 mind-blowing Oculus Rift experiments that reveal VR's practical potential

IDG UK Sites

Black Friday 2014 UK: Apple deals, Amazon deals & other Black Friday tech offers