Games for the Weekend is a weekly feature aimed at helping you avoid doing something constructive with your downtime. Each Friday we’ll be recommending a game for Mac, iPhone or iPad that we think is awesome. Here is one cool enough to keep you busy until Monday, at least.
Air Wings (free, Universal) is a game of flight where you are in control of a paper airplane engaged in arial dogfights. AirWings is also a game that not only is best played online, it is only played online.
You control your paper airplane using the device’s motion sensors. Holding the device firmly, the controls behave just as if you were taking a photograph. Tilting your device forward will send your plane towards the ground while tilting up will sent it soaring into the sky. Left and right controls are just as natural, just point your device in the direction you want to go. Given the online, real-time nature of the game, it’s nice to have the calibration to zero button front and center. This allows you to reset your controls on the fly without having to exit out to a settings screen. Increasing your plane’s airspeed is accomplished by tapping a button in the screen, giving it a boost of wind. But don’t get too carried away with the wind, as it is a scarce resource that is earned back slowly over time.
True to the theme of paper airplanes, your online battlefield is situated in the most common of surroundings. Tabletops, sandboxes and even the front lawn. Your weapons are also fit for such playful activities as spitting spit balls, shooting rubberbands, and setting off firecrackers. Like the wind, your ammunition is limited, only this time it is replenished by flying around and collecting power ups that are positioned atop flashlights sticking out of the ground all over the battlefield. While flying into a power up will replenish your stock of ammunition, not all planes have the same cargo capacity. Each type of plane can carry a different amount of ammunition. This is key if don’t want to spend all of your time searching for spit ball or rubberband when you have the enemy in your crosshairs. The free version of the game comes with two paper airplanes. You can unlock an additional six planes including a remote-controlled quadrocopter through in-app purchases.
At the heart of the game lies its multiplayer gameplay. To initiate a game, you decide first how many opponents you wish to battle. Each match allows up to four planes, so you can elect to either battle three of your Game Center friends, or auto-match and play against whomever is online looking for a good dogfight. What level you play is determined by the game as well as how many of the 11 different levels you have chosen to unlock via an in-app purchase. Once you choose your plane, just tap to launch, and you’re off. There is a radar that you can use to see where the other challengers are located on the level. But this of course does not indicate elevation, so watch your six-o’clock blind spot. While there is an ample supply of ammunition lying around, you never seem to have just the right type when you need it most. You will find that with the faster planes that carry less ammunition, you are either replenishing your ammunition, or dodging enemy fire.
One of the little touches that Pangea Software has elected to include is a roaming spectator camera that will fly around taking video of the active planes in combat. This video can be projected over AirPlay to a nearby HDTV via an Apple TV. This is particularly fun when there are more players in the room than there are iOS devices to play on. The 3D graphics are smooth even when this option is enabled and the game fully supports Retina displays. It is a great game to use as a means to discover some new Game Center friends online this weekend.