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Fly the friendly skies in Flight Control (review)

If you've got five minutes to kill and a taste for simulated stress, Flight Control offers the perfect diversion. Guide planes to their assigned runways while steering them clear of each other.

Test your air-traffic control mettle in Flight Control, a terrific little 99-cent game.
Rick Broida

At first blush, an air-traffic control simulator sounds about as much as fun as a podiatry theme park. But Flight Control is an absolute gem of a game, a perfect five-minute diversion that's perfectly priced at 99 cents.

The gameplay unfolds on a single screen containing two runways and a helipad. As aircraft appear from the periphery, you must guide each one in for a landing while avoiding mid-air collisions. It's pushing tin, iPhone-style.

To steer an aircraft, you just tap it and drag a flight path with your finger. Jets go to the red runway, prop planes to the yellow one, and helicopters to the smaller blue pad.

Things start off easy enough, but before long you're having to finger-juggle as many as 10 aircraft at a time. (Now I see why real ATCs are so stressed out!) Ultimately, your goal is to land as many planes as possible before the inevitable crash. (My top score to date: 31. Can you beat it?)

Flight Control features a jazzy little soundtrack, but you can listen to your own tunes if you prefer.

The game suffers from two minor annoyances. First, there's no "resume" option, so if you exit a game in progress, you'll have to start over next time. Second, there's no level structure to the gameplay; it just keeps getting tougher and tougher until eventually you lose--meaning that eventually you'll lose interest.

Even so, Flight Control is so cute, clever, and temporarily addictive, I consider it a must-have addition to any game lover's arsenal.