Airports aren’t always the most positive of places. Delayed flights and missing luggage put even the chirpiest of travellers into the foulest of moods, immediately bemoaning the poor level of organisation at the airport in question.
This became the inspiration for game designer Yoot Saito’s contribution to LEVEL-5’s Guild01 compilation, with Aero Porter leaving luggage handling at an airport placed entirely in your hands.
The ‘Sorting Game’ is the digital title’s central mode, seeing players organise colour-coded baggage so that it may be placed on their corresponding flight.
In doing so, the Nintendo 3DS’ dual screens are put to full use here. You have multiple carousels at your disposal, that are spread across the entire display. Passengers arrive at check in at the very top of the screen, leaving their luggage that shortly finds itself sliding onto the carousels that you directly control.
Each time that you play, you will be given a daily goal of passengers to satisfy by distributing their luggage onto the correct plane, which must be completed before your shift ends. Flights themselves have their own scheduled departure, meaning that you only have a limited window to whisk the luggage aboard before it leaves.
You’ll do so through employing the use of the L and R buttons, moving the colour-coded suitcases between levels onto their respective carousels. Once satisfied that the luggage you’ve grouped together is correct, holding the A button will shift it onto the designated flight. If accurate, you’ll be rewarded with money that may later spend to aid you.
If at any point a flight departs without any luggage at all, it will be cancelled and you will be immediately be slapped with a fee. Make such errors on numerous occasions and the fees will steadily increase, meaning that it is imperative that you act quickly.
A “Combo” bonus can also be achieved for getting flights to depart within 6 seconds of each other, which, if regularly achieved, will reward you with special flights.
Transfer flights also throw a spanner in the works, with planes delivering luggage to the carousel that they land at which will need redirecting onto the next flight.
At the end of each day, you’ll be able to track your success through Business Results. These indicate the number of passengers, departing flights, cargo rate, cancellation rate and income throughout the day.
Through success, your airport’s rating will improve. This sees it evolve from its early beginnings as a regional airport to that of international renown. Yet this comes at a price, with the player having to deal with an increased number of flights, which means that an even greater deal of luggage will be headed your way.
As can be expected, this raises the level of challenge. Thankfully, through progression, you’ll soon receive abilities that will help you succeed. These include the Speed Slider, which allows you to alter the speed at which the carousels move. Using such abilities drains your fuel supplies, and you’ll have to spend money to replenish them – moving the purchased fuel unit to the base of your carousel to resupply.
From time to time, you’ll be notified that VIPs are shortly due to arrive at the airport. This can be interpreted as posing an immediate challenge to your powers of observation, with such high-profile visitors disguising the flight that their luggage is really intended for. You’ll have to keep a watchful eye for a coloured tag, rather than simply looking at the colour of the suitcase itself.
Suspicious packages also appear, with the player having to shift them down to a specified carousel where a disposal vehicle awaits to deal with them. You’ll have a minute to do so, or you’ll have to face the consequences. Whatever you do, don’t put them on a plane!
Beyond this, players can visit the Hangar where they may customise their own Street Planes. These are then sent through StreetPass to other players, which is a nice touch but not one that there’s really much point to.
What therefore becomes apparent is that, aside from the addictive luggage-sorting foray into airport management, Aero Porter is decisively lacking in content. Whilst there’s still chance that you will become hooked, the lack of any variation in approach is a disappointment for an otherwise promising puzzler.