Fold point A to meet point B, crease.
December 15, 2010 4:58 PM   Subscribe

Armor Games has just released another entry into the launch genre (Penguin Sports, Hedgehog Launch, IntoSpace, etc.) called, simply enough, Flight.
The game is wrapped around a storyline told with cutscenes, starting with a girl who wants her mother home for Christmas. Folding the letter into a paper airplane, she launches it out the window, where it travels around the world, with others adding their wishes to it. As with other launch variants, boosters keep you aloft, and you can purchase upgrades adding to - and replacing - your plane.

The game is fairly simple to play, and the music is catchy enough, but seems rather jarring after a few times through. Unique to the genre is "jet streams" which screw up your flight. You won't be able to steer until you purchase the Rudder Control upgrade. Red origami cranes function as bonus multipliers, and the proper upgrade makes them act as boosters, too.
As with any of the launch variants, you are totally at the mercy of the random encounters, and once you run out of fuel, can no longer steer your plane.
posted by Old'n'Busted (28 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Played it last night. Pretty good. In terms of controls, there are some very nice and natural improvements that the game holds over its predecessors. It feels more like throwing an obeject as both speed and angle of attack play imprtant parts in getting the plane to fly well.
posted by Nanukthedog at 5:03 PM on December 15, 2010

That's kinda funny, I've this game loading in a different tab, peeked over to MF while loading and thee at the top of the page is this.
posted by edgeways at 5:06 PM on December 15, 2010

Reaction before playing:
These kinds of endless-upgrade games are kind of on the outs with me. They've been exhaustively iterated and repackaged. They're just time sinks. You spend time doing a thing, are rewarded with an arbitrary currency with which you can buy a means to do it better, repeat until win.

Much has been made in game development circles about ways to "engage" players, to increase "addictiveness" and such, and this seems like a direct implementation of that. But no, I don't think it's really all that interesting. Especially in this game, where the upgrades are mostly just variable tweaks that probably didn't require more than two lines of code to implement.

If it sounds like I'm being rather harsh on a silly time-wasting game like this, well, I wouldn't be if I hadn't seen this repeated so many times. I think game design should be about something more than just repeating this pattern endlessly.

You guys know that the classic Mac game Glider Pro is free now, right?

posted by JHarris at 5:29 PM on December 15, 2010 [7 favorites]

Direct link
posted by XMLicious at 5:56 PM on December 15, 2010

Holy shit, Glider Pro! I lovvvved that game back in the day. Here's hoping to I can get the XP version working in Wine.
posted by kmz at 5:56 PM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Noooooooooooo. Runtime error. :(
posted by kmz at 6:01 PM on December 15, 2010

JHarris: eagerly awaiting your unique and original masterpiece of casual gaming. Shouldn't take more than 2 lines of code, right? :)
posted by Old'n'Busted at 6:18 PM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

This game is awesome. I really like the way the plane handles once you get a few upgrades under your belt. After a while you get to where you can glide for long distances with only occasional nudges. It's very calming to sit and watch your plane coasting along.
posted by Faust Gray at 6:21 PM on December 15, 2010

JHarris: eagerly awaiting your unique and original masterpiece of casual gaming. Shouldn't take more than 2 lines of code, right? :)

I am working on it. Yes, it requires more code than that, that was kind of my point.

What? Jokes? What on earth are those things?
posted by JHarris at 6:42 PM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Since I wrote the above I have played through Flight entirely. It's okay, there are some interesting design decisions. (Like the jetstreams imposing a check against going too high.)

Just, in another few months there will probably be another variation of it, if not made by Armor Games then by someone else, with still more upgrades. Just as this is just another version of Nanaca Crash, but with upgrades. And so the great cycle of Flash gaming retreads continues.

Faust Gray:
It would be calming if it weren't for the Inappropriate Orchestra behind it all trying desperately to lend musical import to the progress of a paper airplane. If I had to do that again I would definitely turn the music off.
posted by JHarris at 6:50 PM on December 15, 2010

Fun game. I played me a good bit of Toss The Turtle and Dolphin Olympics back in the day, so I'm kinda predisposed to liking these games.

My advice to you is, don't underestimate the upgrade that allows you to control your plane, it's one of the most powerful upgrades in the game. Having played toss the turtle, and never using WASD for control, I assumed it was somewhat useless, but half way through Japan I finally bought the upgrade and it made me go from an average of 100-200 meters up to 600+.
posted by inedible at 8:13 PM on December 15, 2010

I generally approve of upgrade systems. In this case, I played the game all the way through, whereas if it didn't have any upgrade system, I probably would have been bored by the 3rd or 4th flight.

More importantly, in this case, like most good upgrade systems, it served as a way to parcel out the options and things players need to keep track of- controlling flight and managing fuel is pretty easy, but efficiently using the rainbow star option makes a massive difference in play - since it seems to be crucial to hitting the 50m altitude necessary to start scoring the $25 stars.

And of course, all of that is stuff I discovered only because I got stuck on the upgrade treadmill instead of quitting early.
posted by yeloson at 8:49 PM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

I found this kind of annoying relative to Hedgehog launch. I never felt like I really had significant control over my plane, and I always ran out of fuel and then spent 30 seconds or so just watching my plane float gently down, which was less than enthralling.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:50 PM on December 15, 2010

I generally approve of upgrade systems. In this case, I played the game all the way through, whereas if it didn't have any upgrade system, I probably would have been bored by the 3rd or 4th flight.

Yeah, but if they removed the upgrade system they would have had to have designed it to be more interesting otherwise. Like, say, not having your plane's initial attributes being totally gimped. Like exposing more interactivity from the first play. Like making success more dependent on skill instead of hoping you run into enough rapidly-passing boosts to make it a significant distance. Like adding a traditional escalating difficulty structure.

Upgrade systems are not bad in themselves, they're just way overused in the Flash market right now. They are kind of a design crutch: take a basic game and add an arbitrary advancement system to make it seem like more than it really is.
posted by JHarris at 9:06 PM on December 15, 2010

(And the worth of the $25 stars at the top, I think, is way overrated. To get to them you have to go up through the jetstream zone where there are no stars, so both on the way up and down you aren't earning any money for a good while. And there don't seem to be any swans up there, so you aren't getting that $25 multiplied by anything.)
posted by JHarris at 9:09 PM on December 15, 2010

I guess the wish you get at the end depends on how many days it took?
posted by codacorolla at 9:46 PM on December 15, 2010

Also items are only created ahead of you, so when you stall, no matter how high you are, you miraculously fall through absolutely nothing, with this little stream of stuff coming from in front of you and disappearing off the top of the screen before you can get there.
posted by motty at 10:38 PM on December 15, 2010

Arrrggh! 50m away from a 5000m run and I dropped too low and grounded when trying to get air off a pinwheel!

This game is awesome.
posted by eyeballkid at 11:00 PM on December 15, 2010

Without the benefit of nostalgic haze, I can say that my first ever play of Glider Pro tonight lasted 30 seconds before I dropped it in the trash.
posted by eyeballkid at 11:06 PM on December 15, 2010

The art style is lovely. I love the mystery upgrade graphics.

Also I'm pretty sure there's a Hitachi magic wand ad in the background in the Japan level. Did anyone else catch that? Or is that some other Hitachi product?
posted by NoraReed at 11:51 PM on December 15, 2010

I just noticed it's Hitachu, not Hitachi. Dang. :(
posted by NoraReed at 11:53 PM on December 15, 2010

A game closer in style might be this: Flight of the Hamsters
posted by arzakh at 1:59 AM on December 16, 2010

The upgrade systems themselves can be either hit or miss, and that is true not just in the Flash/casual gaming market, but also within the console or full-blown Windows games. The whole *point* of upgrades and bonuses and stuff is to keep you engaged so that the game lasts longer than 30 seconds. The mystery upgrade is critical for gameplay, imho, and I got a good laugh when it first kicked in.
Is this better/worse than Hedgehog Launch? That depends on what you're looking for. I think HHL is more *fun* than this one, but Flight has more direct player control. I do think that you run out of fuel too quickly, and I wish you could go higher and have more than the purple stars. It does suffer from the typical launch problems: once you've lost control, you can sit for a long time - longer than your fuel - as your plane/hedgehog bounces around hitting stuff. But as a 30 minute-or-so time waster? Totally did the job.
As for "overused" stuff in gaming, I think achievements fit that bill. They generally don't give any rewards when gotten, are tossed in just to extend gameplay by giving you a different goal, and the game doesn't change if you get them or not.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 3:55 AM on December 16, 2010

...and suddenly it's 7:30 AM.
posted by TheCoug at 7:31 AM on December 16, 2010

Kind of "meh".
I found the throwing mechanism to be oddly touchy. One toss and the plane flies long and high. Toss it the same way the next time and the plane falls to the ground like a lead brick. What did I do wrong? Beats me. It felt like the same movement.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:27 AM on December 16, 2010

They are kind of a design crutch: take a basic game and add an arbitrary advancement system to make it seem like more than it really is.

Shrug. I think they did it just right, here. I've played games where you have to scramble a long way to get small rewards, at which point, it feels like the classic "yet another maze to add 10 hours of gameplay" effect, but in this case, each run gives you enough to buy an upgrade.

I guess, if we're going to compare it to an imaginary version where everything was done right, what are some games that do this, that do something better, and how?
posted by yeloson at 9:08 AM on December 16, 2010

Comparing wholly-different games directly is difficult, maybe impossible, and no game does everything right, nor does it make sense to speak in those terms. It is nonsensical to think of any game as being "perfect."

On "adding yet another maze to add 10 hours of gameplay": If all the game is doing is adding another maze then I'd agree. Offering mere space to explore is not interesting, there has to be something else there too. That something else might be substantially greater difficulty, or new puzzles, or unusual monsters, or other conditions.

In fact, I think that's a problem with Flight; the game world doesn't change that much through the five levels, other than background graphics. There is no "map" to the game; as another commenter said above, all the objects are randomly generated at the right edge of the screen. There are really only a few items you can interact with, and at the rate the player travels, the stars and pinwheels are not onscreen long enough for the player to aim for them in any useful way, the cranes are only barely targetable, and the gold stars are randomly introduced and thus may never show up on a given run.

Those of you who liked Flight, that's fine. When Flight+1 comes out, will you like it as much? Some people might consider Flight to be Nanaca Crash+6.
posted by JHarris at 3:11 PM on December 16, 2010

When Flight+1 comes out, will you like it as much? Some people might consider Flight to be Nanaca Crash+6.

See, I love playing some Nanaca Crash, though I know it's more a luck game than a real skill game.

Flight actually has some meaningful strategic choices - aside from the purple starts, there's about 2 bands where you regularly see gold stars and/or cranes.

If you're going for distance, the trick is to hit one of those bands, go straight, adjusting only when your nose downturns, and doing slight upward angles when you catch a boost. If you get a couple of cranes boosting at the same time and want money? Hit your purple star bonus and boost a bit so you slam through the most stars while cashing in.

Of the complaints I have about the game, the staggered leveling/reward system isn't it.
posted by yeloson at 4:33 PM on December 16, 2010

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