Review: Aero Porter (Nintendo 3DS)
by D.J. Tatsujin on January 1, 2013

Aero Porter
Developer: Vivarium
Publisher: Level-5
Genre: Puzzle
Release Date: 11/29/2012

Aero Porter sticks players in their first day on the job of sorting luggage at a low-key airport. A supervisor will pop text-based messages up throughout the game, but no real other characters are introduced to the game. The title is one that is light on “story” elements, but, rather, is a game full of explanations and feedback. As a puzzle game, the themes presented in Aero Porter are perfectly acceptable.

The title is also light on modes, but it offers a number of ways to expand on the game’s concept of sorting the luggage. As players perform well, a number of new tasks are mixed in with the gameplay, and frequent promotions allow the player to customize their terminal’s planes and partake in a StreetPass mode for bonuses. So, while Aero Porter only offers one mode at face value, showing dedication to the game will beef the offerings up a bit.

The game’s visuals are very simplistic, but they really pop with color. Players will be thankful for this, as when the game starts to throw a number of tasks at the player, the simplicity keeps the action from becoming too overwhelming. There is nothing fancy about Aero Porter’s graphics, but, oddly, it becomes part of the title’s charm. Customizing the planes adds some extra color and combo graphics add some flair to the visuals, but with very clean menus and solid animation, the minimalist visuals really work to the game’s benefit.

Much like the visuals, there isn’t a whole lot going on with the title’s audio, either, but, again, it falls in line with the game’s charm. While there are some jingles mixed in between the gameplay, most of Aero Porter’s sound is ambiance. Players will hear announcements over the PA system, the bustling of the airport, thuds of the luggage dropping down carousals, jet engines – the usual fare one would expect to hear from an airport. It might not be exciting, per say, but it fits the theme well and sounds great on the system. Not only that, but players have enough to worry about with the gameplay to be distracted.

How Aero Porter works is players have a view of anywhere between three to seven carousals, and as customers drop their luggage into the system, players are tasked with making sure the bags are loaded onto the correct flight. This is done by matching the different colors of bags up with the color of the plane presented on the left side. When a flight is full of baggage, it takes off automatically, and sending planes off within six seconds of each other triggers combos that increase score and bonuses.

This is isn’t easy, though. Each flight has a time limit in order to maintain its schedule. If the bags aren’t loaded on the flight, it takes off regardless, meaning you’ll have an unhappy customer. If you put a customer’s bag on the wrong plane, they’ll also be unhappy. Thus, you have quite an exercise in efficiency.

The player uses the trigger buttons, with one lowering ramps on the carousal and the other raising the raising ramps. Pressing the button lowers or raises the ramps on every single level of the carousal, meaning players will eventually have to time their presses to avoid raising or lowering unwanted luggage. Once the player has enough luggage to load the plane on a level of the carousal, pressing the A button sweeps all of the luggage onto the plane.

Even at its earliest levels, I wouldn’t consider Aero Porter to be an easy game. It has a bit of a challenge to it, but getting things to work is gratifying. Even by the third day of work, mechanics are thrown in, allowing players to turn lights on and off to highlight levels or conserve fuel or change the speed of the conveyor belts to speed up the sorting at the cost of fuel. Special baggage types also run down the chute, ranging from ones containing a bomb that have to be disposed of in a special truck in a short time, VIP bags that must be loaded onto a plane first, bags from elected officials that receive special treatment and bags that must be sorted by the color of their airport tag as opposed to the color of the baggage.

Just a couple of days into the game, I had to step away and make a little more sense of it, but the game also left me with the full intention of coming back to it. However, interested buyers should be warned there is a lot going on in this game, and the learning curve is a little steep.

Short Attention Span Summary
I seem to gravitate toward more challenging games and, in that regard, Aero Porter fits the bill. There is a deceptive amount of content involved with such a simple premise, the challenge leads to rewarding results, and when the game is boiled down to puzzle mechanics, it is quite fun. With the gameplay broken down into “days,” players can pick up and put down the game as they please, making it a welcome portable title on the Nintendo 3DS.




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D.J. Tatsujin

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