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Aero Porter (3DS) artwork

Aero Porter (3DS) review


"This "Bob Saito" fellow seems suspicious."



There’s a good chance Aero Porter was secretly funded by a major airline.

“Hey, Seaman and Odama creator Yoot Saito,” Richard Branson probably called from across the room at some random party inexplicably attended by both crazy billionaires and creators of niche Japanese video games. “I have a job for you. As you probably know, my airline, like all other airlines, has failed to properly grasp the concept of delivering suitcases and duffel bags to their proper destinations. They’re always getting lost or stolen or incinerated or what have you. I want to convince people that handling luggage is actually much more difficult than it probably should be. Can you help me? Oops, it’s about time for me to bungee jump out of a hot air balloon. We’ll talk later. Ta!”

Then he probably waved and cartwheeled out the window. And thus, I like to imagine, Aero Porter was born.

Aero Porter is a puzzle game about sorting luggage and loading it onto the correct airplanes using a layered system of colour-coded luggage carousels and mechanical arms. You’ll use the shoulder buttons to raise or lower the arms on each carousel (all of the “up” or “down” arms move at the same time), dropping passing bags onto the layer below or drawing them up to the above layer. You can load all the luggage from a particular carousel onto the adjoining airplane, provided most of the luggage present is the correct colour. Flights must leave before scheduled times, and any leftover luggage will disappear if the aircraft isn’t full by departure time. If a plane has no luggage at all, the flight will be cancelled and you’ll suffer a hefty monetary penalty.

As you play, serving the appropriate number of people in a single day while completing special goals (such as dealing with a bomb threat or properly loading special luggage onto Air Force One), your airport will expand and more carousels will be added. The tutorial starts with two, and even that number may seem a bit overwhelming at first. Aero Porter doesn’t care about that, though, and will add another one as soon as the tutorial is over. Eventually your sorting system will increase to a whopping seven carousels, spread across both screens in 2D.

This is where things get real. Aero Porter sounds pretty simple, and at its core, it is. However, there’s more to it than simply sorting luggage. You’ll unlock a number of special abilities and features as you play, all of which affect your ever-decreasing fuel gauge. Completing tasks such as increasing the speed of your carousels and robotic arms (both of which are basically a requirement for advanced stages) will increase your fuel consumption, while shutting off the lights or lowering the carousel speed will decrease it. Fuel can be bought with money earned by quickly and accurately sorting bags. After it is purchased, a fuel can will be dropped onto the carousels with the rest of the luggage, and must be guided down to the bottom layer and dropped off the bottom screen.

Special cases where you must maneuver fuel through the system or find hidden bombs in luggage (by blowing into the microphone to reveal the bomb, then clearing the appropriate carousel of real luggage and guiding the bomb to a waiting truck for disposal) help keep the game from growing too repetitive, but also make it much more frantic. Once you get the hang of things, it’s possible to actually relax while you play Aero Porter up to a certain point, but that seems to be impossible once again by the time you’ve fully upgraded your airport and have to deal with a bunch of threats and obstacles at once.

At that late stage in the game, actually getting through the day and making a profit instead of losing money on cancelled flights and fuel proves very difficult. You may feel like you just don’t want to play anymore, since instead of making progress every time you play, you’ll feel like you’re regressing. This game could have benefitted greatly from a level select option, or a free play mode that lets you decrease the number of carousels to fit your level of skill or mood. As it stands, the only way to roll back the clock is to delete your save file, which means deleting your StreetPass data along with it (StreetPass allows you to send and receive custom aeroplanes to and from other players’ airports). Deleting your saved data also means having to play through the earlier, simpler levels to get back to whatever point you prefer to play.

There's a fine line between a game with a fast pace and a game that's simply overwhelming, and Aero Porter trips over it by not allowing the individual to adjust the challenge-to-stress ratio. It’s a fairly unique puzzle game that is challenging and fun for a while, but it will eventually become too much for many players. When it hits the sweet spot, it offers an enjoyable experience. Unfortunately, once past that spot, Aero Porter is simply too frantic for its own good.

Rating: 7/10

Roto13's avatar
Staff review by Rhody Tobin (December 05, 2012)

Rhody likes to press the keys on his keyboard. Sometimes the resulting letters form strings of words that kind of make sense when you think about them for a moment. Most times they're just random gibberish that should be ignored. Ball-peen wobble glurk.

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