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Air Cadets

For: iPhone   Also on: Android, iPad


Product: Air Cadets | Developer: Hidden Games | Format: iPhone | Genre: Arcade, Racing | Players: 1 | Version: Europe | App version: 1.1
Air Cadets iPhone, thumbnail 1
Flight simulators are a strange breed. Not only do they barely fit into the gaming realm, but most people who play them would insist that they shouldn’t. But that doesn’t mean we don’t want to fly virtual planes - it just means we don't want to be bothered with landing gears, flaps, altimeters or overly accurate controls.

This puts Air Cadets ahead of the pack, delivering the aerial larks of those flying machines without the rigmarole of actually understanding boring aerodynamics. Instead, it's all about choices and chilling out.

There's no combat in Air Cadets. The game offers a Free Flight mode joined by Ring Run, a Balloon Burst mode, and coin collecting competition.

Ring Run has you flying through a series of circles, whereas both Balloon Burst and coin collection have you flying to rack up popped balloons and coins, respectively. In each mode, you navigate an airport, a cityscape, an oil rig, a lighthouse and an archipelago of floating islands.

Each character has a description that suggests particular aerial skills, though in practice there doesn’t appear to be any real difference between them.

That’s not to say there aren’t some minor differences, but the type of plane has a much grander impact on the game, so it’s hard to tell whether Taku can loop-the-loop any more efficiently than Uki.

The vehicles themselves do make a significant impact on the experience, however. Choosing between a Cloud Walker biplane, a Sirocco fighter, or a Sea Pig sea plane will demonstrate a considerable change in speed, agility and weight.

For the most part, however, the non-combative nature of Air Cadet’s gameplay doesn’t really call for different classes of aircraft. Once you’ve developed a preference for a particular model, you’re unlikely to bother changing it.

Unfortunately, the controls aren't as easily managed. They definitely can’t be considered smooth, as the plane jumps harshly between angles, either when turning or climbing/diving.

It's also impossible to rotate your plane along either axis, which means there’s no scope for aerial acrobatics (in turn making the Free Flight mode extremely dull).

Flying through the rings would be a great, simple game mode if the planes had a pixel-accurate control, but the jarring nature of the motion controls makes Air Cadets frustrating. Balloon and coin collecting are less aggravating, but only because there are so many more objects to aim for.

Graphically Air Cadets doesn’t come close to impressing, with visuals more akin to a 3D mobile effort than iPhone native. The foundations for an entertaining flying game are there, if only the controls were more organic and the freedom of flight wasn’t so severely restricted.

This is another game that could be rescued by a significant update, but until that happy day, it feels distinctly like a stunted version of the game it could have been.
Air Cadets
Reviewer photo
Spanner Spencer | 20 January 2009
The makings of an enjoyable aerial adventure are there, but jarring controls, limited acrobatics and amateurish visuals keep it from taking off
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