It’s My Aeroplane

Review Aero Porter
My continuing failure at surviving the high stress world of luggage sorting makes it difficult to peel back as much of Level-5’s latest addition to the eShop as I’d like to in order to lay down some review words. But my poor performance hasn’t been from a lack of effort, with Aero Porter stealing plenty of attention over the last week, and the game is certainly worth some words all the same.

Aside from manipulating my OCD, Aero Porter is a terrifically strange and curious offering, and that’s certainly impressive, considering it comes from the mind of Yoot Saito, best known for giving us Seaman – that game where you raise and communicate with a human-faced fish on your Dreamcast.

Aero Porter sets players up with a fixed view and the simplest premise – colored luggage moves down onto the carousel, and players lower or raise the arms to send luggage down to the various tiers to match up with planes on colored tracks corresponding to those pieces of luggage. Because planes come in various shapes and sizes, some will hold more luggage than others, but all will take off promptly when filled. When the luggage is on the right carousel, pressing the A button will cause it to speed into the plane.

The game expands to offer players multiple carousels to deal with, and offers the opportunity to speed up the rate at which luggage spins around. Naturally, attempting to lower certain colors will see others tag along for the ride, making Aero Porter essentially a game where one frantically raises and lowers the carousel arms to attempt to fill each flight before its departure time – cancelled flights will cost the player money, though even my worst performance hasn’t bankrupted me yet. My best strategy at present is to quickly tap the shoulder buttons to cause a quick jolt that will often only drop one bag at a time.

Because this isn’t enough to deal with, the game adds more concerns. For instance, the entire sorting mechanism runs on fuel, so players will need to add some occasionally, which will cause a fuel tank to be dropped into the mix and task players to lower it beneath all the carousels to an unseen fuel tank. The game also allows players to attempt conservation by turning the lights off on unused carousels, but I’m just not able to manage that small task while trying to sort dozens of brightly colored bags.

Aero Porter also tosses critical luggage concerns into the mix, with VIP passengers, including the President. To keep their travel private, their bags are colored one way but include tags that reveal the true color of the plane each one needs to reach. The trick early on is to prioritize VIP luggage above the average passenger – read into that what you will. Ensuring VIP’s make their flights rewards players by upgrading the status of their airport. The President has granted me a spaceport most recently, which appears to be the highest spot on the food chain.

Dangers also appear on the job, with suspicious packages and outright ACME bombs, which will need to be loaded onto special disposal vehicles within a small window of time. Just for kicks, players will also sometimes be responsible for a precious jewel, which requires tilting the 3DS in order to move it along each carousel. It’s a rare occurrence, but the insistence on reminding me that the 3DS can do such things is a bit tedious.

Players will eventually be rewarded with planes of their own, which appear in a hangar, and can be customized as well as shared with street pass, thereby showing up at a friend’s airport. My Aero Porter research suggest you can earn planes by performing combos – sending multiple planes off within seconds of one another.

Currently I only have Air Force One, and the game is quite keen on not allowing me to paint graffiti all over it.

The enduring addiction is the belief that I can somehow send every flight off with the proper and full amount of luggage, though the game itself seems doubtful of my skills. It recently suggested I try sending planes off with just some of the luggage required. But that pessimistic appraisal aside, the sorting chaos is strangely hypnotic and soothing once you get over the initial panic of dozens of brightly colored bags jammed together and potentially causing you to freeze up like a deer caught in the headlights. There’s a very strange sense of relaxation the game lends me with each session, from the simplicity of the core objective to the ambient airport sounds playing in the background.

There’s a lot of Zen beneath the high volume stress.

The only nagging complaint I can levy against the game is that the constant notices, important though they may be, break the play just when one is about to lower or raise baggage, costing another loop around the carousel for the trouble. Aero Porter also has a habit of starting off friendly and then plunging players into a chaos each will have to actively decide to dig themselves out of.

But I’m going to suggest it’s worth the initial panic at the airport. Aero Porter is a gem of an eShop curiosity that, at $4.99, begs for more attention.

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