Developer: Black Pearl Games
Platforms: iPad (Reviewed), iPhone, iPod Touch
Release Date: April 12, 2012
Price: Free Get it Here
Chillingo adds a new entrant to the freemium arena with their latest game. Aero Vacation allows players to build their dream airship and fly it around the world. Players use gold coins to build amenities, energy to upgrade their amenities, and Aero Credits to speed through build and flying times. All these currencies can be purchased through an in app purchase ranging from $0.99 to $49.99.
There isn’t much of a storyline at all in Aero Vacation, so once again you will have to create your own story for Aero Vacation. Maybe you’re attempting to run a family friendly cruise or maybe you are flying around the world’s richest clients in a world tour.
Aero Vacation is best described as a mash up of Tiny Tower and Mega Mall Story. Rooms your guests can use such as cafes, spas, casinos, and hot springs will bring in coin over time that needs to be collected after a certain period of time. These coins are spent to build more rooms or generate power that will upgrade your rooms to high levels, bringing in more money per minute and eventually allowing you to pay to transform them into more profitable services. By placing harmonizing services together, you can boost your revenue. Experience is gained over time, building new services, and traveling. As you level up, opens up new destinations to travel, therefore unlocking new services.
The level of depth in this game is a little deeper than your average freemium game, but not nearly as deep as Mega Mall Story. The depth comes from managing your time and positioning your services to trigger bonuses to make the greatest profit possible in a given set period of time. There is no customer satisfaction or needs to worry about. This makes it simple enough that even younger gamers will be able to enjoy Aero Vacation. Even in its simplicity, Aero Vacation is insanely addictive. I found myself timing my airship’s travels and designing my ship’s services around my schedule. Thankfully moving your ship’s services around to optimize revenue flow is free as long as you have spare space to move the services around.
The controls in Aero Vacation are flawless. Even on the smaller screen on the iPhone, buttons were responsive and pressing the wrong button was rare. There is a very generous level of zoom which is great for the small iPhone screen. The UI is well thought out for the most part. I only wish it was possible to find out how much experience and coins I was going to earn upon landing at my destination.
It is possible to play Aero Vacation across multiple iOS devices. The game requires an active internet connection to play which can be a bit of a pain for iPad and iPod Touch users. However, for those fortunate enough to own both an iPhone and an iPad, you can play on your iPhone while out of Wi-Fi range, come home and pick right up where you left off on your iPad.
Aero Vacation uses a cute, family friendly westernized anime style that looks great. Each service has visitors that will use the amenities, bringing life to your airship. However, after staring at the game for hours on end, you’ll notice that each room plays the same set of guest visits on loop. You will never see guests travel from one room to another. Although the animations look great, the lack of traveling guests makes the airship feel a little disjointed and insular. The graphics do not appear to be optimized for the new iPad’s Retina screen. As a result the UI is noticeably pixelated. Overall, Aero Vacation sports visually pleasing graphics that could use a little bit of improvement.
The audio can be a little bare at times in Aero Vacation, but what is there is good. There are a small handful of sound effects for actions such as collecting money or power that are used repeatedly. These are good sound effects, but the total lack of variation can become tiring after a while. The music is an elevator muzak type music that fits perfectly with the theme of the game. It is cheery, bright, and pleasant to listen to for short periods of time when you check in on your airship. It too becomes a little repetitive after 20 minutes straight, but considering most of the time players will spend only a few minutes checking in on their airship, it’s not too bad.
Aero Vacation is a great game. I haven’t been this addicted to a freemium game since Tiny Tower. The internet requirement can be a bit of a pain when I take my iPad on the go, but the ability to play on my phone then switch seamlessly to my iPad makes up for it. However those who only own an iPad or iPod Touch need to be wary that they will not be able to play their game on the go. The graphics are fun and child friendly and the sound is fitting for the game. If you’re coming off your Tiny Tower high and looking for another freemium game to soak up your time, give Aero Vacation a try.