I am often surprised by the dearth of gamers that play mobile games. As a lifelong gamer, I have found a rewarding outlet by taking a break from my consoles and indulging in games on my phones and tablets. With the advent of even better mobile gaming venues such as the nVidia SHIELD Android TV, mobile gaming has taken on as much a part of my favorite pastime as more sophisticated machines. So I wanted to start writing some posts that delve into mobile gaming a bit more. That’s what the new series, Mobile Gaming Recommendations on GWW, will be about.
When I talk about mobile gaming, I am referring to the OS, not necessarily the hardware. That’s why I’ll be including the SHIELD Pro in this series. Yes, I refer to the SHIELD TV as a console in most of my rhetoric when I am referring to the hardware. But the games and their availability are driven as a by-product of the Android ecosystem, so I do not want to separate them based on the hardware. The same is true for today’s recommendation, Air Control 2. While this game is available in the Google Play Store, I have been playing it most recently on the Amazon Kindle Fire HD6. In order to get the game on that device you, obviously, have to download it from the Amazon App Store.
This title is free on Amazon, and rates at a 3.8 in Customer from 38 customer reviews. The premise, as is the case in most mobile games, is simple. Control the airspace around the airfield, provide direction to aircraft entering that space, and direct them to your choice of holding patterns, landing stacks, routes, and finally, down to their designated runway. Aircraft must land on runways designated to handle that kind of traffic. You get an added challenge that not all aircraft of a given size/type travel at the exact same airspeed. Try putting a jumbo jet down on the tarmac without visually observing its airspeed, and it may overrun the aircraft ahead of it in the stack.
How I play it: I approach this game as a matter of managing airspace as a resource. Faster, larger aircraft use up that resource at a higher and faster rate than slower, smaller aircraft. But smaller, slower aircraft which are unable to avoid other aircraft quickly are also a problem. What I do, and what makes the game fun for me, is employing my strategy for that airspace management. I try to manage the aircraft such that I do not have to do much intervention; providing the least number of directional commands is the best approach that I have found. When I see the airfield, I decide on landing patterns and approach paths that each aircraft type is going to employ. I tend to give the jetliners the most room to maneuver and the longest approach path to the landing. I try to get helos directly to the helipad in the most direct path possible. I try to bring the prop planes in on approaches that are parallel to their landing strip and have them brake and turn in with minimal turning distance in front of the runway. When things get dicey, I try to just have the aircraft fly another loop, or backtrack over its previous path and then do a 180 back to the strip.
Fans of RTS’ should like this game as it teaches them concepts of using battlespace as a resource, in a microgame that does not have all the frenetics that your bigger RTS’ do. Geometry and relative motion are key factors to get a handle on in this game, and those skills are applicable to other game genres as well. I typically play this game for 15 to 20 minutes at a spell, but I sometimes get addicted and stick with it for 30 minutes or longer. I find the reduced brain footprint that mobile games typically occupy in my head is a great opportunity to work on specific gameplay skills without the complexity overhead (and associated systems maintenance that is invoked in the more complex platforms). So take a break, give this game a spin on your Android gaming platform of choice. Amazon has a games service that keeps track of your trophies, gameplay hours, and titles that you play, so there is a social and quantification mechanism to play around with as well.
Good luck, and let me know if you have questions on specific mobile games and mobile gaming platforms, in case my plan and schedule are not getting to what you are interested in fast enough.