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Though no gaming platform has a shortage of “simulator” tycoon style games, few have enough engaging gameplay to really stand out among the crowd. Now Boarding, a tycoon style game revolving around routing passengers at an airport, is one of these little treasures and a great game to help you relax and escape from the real world.
The basic gist is that you are the owner of an airline and its home terminal, in charge of the amount and placement of seats, stores, and snacks (among other unlockable treasures). Your mission is simple. Ferry passengers from your airport to others. As your business grows, you can take on other destinations, more passengers and larger aircraft to handle the traffic.
The game is laid out as five “episodes” spanning various regions across the northern hemisphere. Individual cities within each episode have their own unique characteristics, such as Orlando being busier during the summer (due to its amusement parks). Strategy is essential as you grow your fleet of aircraft and choose which destinations to expand your airline service to next.
With unique graphics and an engaging soundtrack, gameplay is very upbeat and fun. Don’t be surprised to waste huge amounts of time as you play to unlock awards and achievements.
Inside your terminal, you are responsible for staffing appropriate positions (ticketing, gate attendant, customer service, docking) in addition to expanding your airline fleet, all while keeping within your budget. As traffic to your airline grows, you will be able to expand to offer more unique methods of transportation, including a helicopter, a 36 seat plane and a private jet.
As your airline business grows, so does the difficulty of keeping happy the hundreds of passengers that move throughout your terminal. As the pressure mounts and more passengers pile into your terminal than you can handle, they will start to get angry. When they have a melt down, the game is over.
Now Boarding started as a Flash-based game and, due to its nature, does require a pretty beefy system for decent gameplay. Users will need to have at least a 1.83GHz Intel Core Duo or 1GHz PowerPC G4 processor or faster to play. On older Macs, performance may degrade as you progress higher into the game as your airline plays host to an increasing number of passengers. The game is built around the Adobe Air platform, so in addition to being compatible with Windows and Linux, it also runs just like any other standalone application, complete with its own icon.
Now Boarding is a great game that starts off simple and easy, but quickly scales in terms of difficulty and challenges. A demo version of Now Boarding is available at its website here. The full version costs $14.99. If you’ve had a chance to play, I’d love to hear your thoughts!