When you think of vehicles with faces, you probably picture Thomas the Tank Engine, in which the majority of the anthropomorphic vehicles are pretty cheerful.
According to the rules of Airport Mania 2: Wild Trips, that means they were always on time.
When you don't manage to get Lemon Team's aircraft airborne in a punctual manner, their happy faces turn to nonplussed scowls. And a vote of no confidence from a grumpy Boeing 747 is hard to shake off.Clear for take off
For those who didn’t play the original, it was a brilliant little time-waster that earned an impressive Pocket Gamer Silver award. Unlike fellow plane-based casual game Flight Control, the aim was to keep the runways running efficiently rather than to avoid mid-air collisions.
The sequel is more of the same: from a side-on perspective, you manage the flow of the airport. In its simplest form, this means getting a plane from the sky to the runway, then on to the terminal, then back to the runway, and back in the sky.
When you’re doing this for five or six planes at once, with a limited number of runways and terminals, things can get hairy.
They get hairier still when it transpires that some planes need repairs, others need more fuel, and others need baggage put on board. To get to the super-high scores, you have to manage all this while sticking to the terminal colour code to amass combos.
It sounds complicated, but the tutorial walks you through it brilliantly. The minimum score threshold is so low that failure’s never a serious risk, but getting the four-star ratings takes some skill.
Points are accrued as money earned from timely departures, and you can spend this money on upgrading everything in the airport, from additional runways to a spray-paint point, allowing you to change the colour of your planes and avoid breaking that combo.Mild turbulence
The cracks begin to show as the game gets more frenetic.
Airport Mania 2: Wild Trips was originally a PC and Mac download, and it’s clear that pushing all the content into a 3-4-inch Android screen has been quite the challenge.
All the key elements are present, but mistaps are common, and when you’ve got six planes littering the tarmac it’s pretty easy to select the wrong one.
Also, despite the wild trips promised in the title, Airport Mania 2 can get repetitive.
The location changes every ten or so levels, giving you a brand new airport to build up, culminating in a space station at the end, and more intergalactic levels to come in future updates.
But these changes are cosmetic - the gameplay boils down to frantically tapping the screen against various backdrops.Plane sailing
Even so, it's utterly compulsive, and getting impressive highscores and implausibly long combos keeps you hooked in the same way Peggle does. 'One more level' can easily become a chain of five before you realise what time it is.
With charming graphics and frantic but rarely overwhelming gameplay, Airport Mania 2: Wild Trips is a solid sequel. The presentation is sharper and the additional variety is welcome. You may complain that it’s too similar to the original, but that would be criticising its best feature.