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For: DS   Also on: 3DS

Earning your pilot wings

Product: Disney's Planes | Publisher: Disney Interactive Studios | Format: DS | Genre: Action, Adventure, Film/ TV tie- in | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
Disney's Planes DS, thumbnail 1
You know what? I kind of like Planes.

Not the film, I mean (I've yet to see DisneyToon Studios's spin-off of the disappointing Cars franchise).

No, I'm talking about this tie-in game for Nintendo handhelds.

It's got some rough edges, sure, but on the whole it's a child-friendly blend of Ace Combat and Pilotwings that - while too simple for adults - will entertain younger hands and minds, potentially serving as a 'gateway' game to bigger, richer games from which Disney draws its inspiration here.

Fog of soar

Across multiple modes, you play as Dusty or one of his high-flying friends.

In Story Mode, you are set a load of short challenges to conquer, each with a bit of story, all told by a wizened old plane. This gives Disney the excuse to introduce multiple characters and conjure up reasons for them to engage in non-typical flight sim activities.

Avoiding approaching hurricanes to save farmyard equipment, performing aerial acrobatics in cave-like structures, and launching fireworks for a display, for example, are just some of the Planes challenges you won't find in Microsoft Flight Simulator.

In Challenge Mode, meanwhile, you are given more of these types of activities. In Racing Mode, you race other planes. And in Balloon Popping mode, you dash about levels shooting balloons.

The races can be awkward to play, unless you know the layout of the course. You have to fly through rings in the correct order, you see. But since the DS only has meagre 3D grunt, the draw distance for these hoops is quite short.

Otherwise, though, the flying is good. The planes are fairly slow, but you can speed them up greatly by holding the Boost button. Boosting is a technique you'll have to master, as the highest scores in all of the modes are all heavily based on how quickly you can complete missions.

Water wings

It's all over quite quickly for a seasoned gamer, mind. For the young, however, Disney's Planes should provide a decent challenge, or at least a thought-provoking one. Working out the approach needed for your plane to hit its target and navigating through rings in the correct order essentially form the basics of flight games, and they are explained clearly here.

With the visuals, mind, Disney has cut a few corners. The (admittedly plentiful) speech is tinny, though the soundtrack is excellent, and very reminiscent of the PS2's Sky Odyssey.

All said and done, Planes is a licensed take on the basic rules of flying. Disney lures kids in with a big-name franchise and, by and large, keeps things interesting with multiple objective types, simplified but solid controls, and an engine that just about holds everything together.
Reviewer photo
Peter Willington | 20 September 2013
There's not a lot here for parents, but the children of those parents will find their first flight game here, and probably have a jolly good time with it
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