Aero Porter

Overview

One of my favorite things to watch a game developer do is try and make an uninteresting concept into a fun game. It can work out spectacularly, such as in the Phoenix Wright games, which are some of my favorites. Still, when it was announced that Yoot Saito’s new game would be a game about baggage sorting, I wasn’t sure. I mean, baggage sorting? And they expect people to pay for it? It sounds like there’s no way for it to be good, but sometimes, you just have to have faith in the developers.

Gameplay

Aero Porter is a puzzle game about sorting luggage.

And apparently, sorting luggage is incredibly complicated. Starting out simple, you have to sort the colored luggage into the planes of the similar color. They roll down a conveyer belt, and you have multiple levels. With a tap of a button, all the belts move so that the luggage goes down, and with the other button, they climb back up. It gets a little hectic to keep track of all of the belts and bags at once, especially since you only have two minutes for every flight, but it’s doable enough if you just keep your head.

Then they introduce more conveyer belts. And you have to keep track of your fuel. And when you order more fuel, you have to make sure not to accidentally drop luggage into the generator. Then bombs come through and you have to dispose of them. You have to sort transfer flights, or deal with special requests from diplomats, or check out the color of the TAGS on a bag instead of the color of the bag itself. Eventually you have to deal with Air Force One and the president’s specially marked luggage. As you work your way from a small local airport to a spaceport (oh, right, you become a spaceport) the game gets more challenging until there are flights taking off with just one piece of luggage in them because you had to deal with too many things—bombs and diplomats and fuel and so much more. It’s incredibly hectic, but as you load all the bags onto the right flights and send them all on their way, it’s actually pretty satisfying.

I was a little surprised that there was some StreetPass integration in the game as well, but it mostly deals with you outfitting a plane that then goes into the airport of the person you passed. They get extra money for helping you, but I can more or less guarantee that, despite how good this game is, I will never meet anyone else who has actually bought this game, so I can’t really say how well it worked. I just know that MY aircraft is Air Force One, and that’s pretty awesome.

Graphics

I’m using the term “graphics” here in the loosest sense of the term. There are things that appear on the screen, this is true. The presentation is entirely utilitarian. There’s a screen that tells you what to do, and then there’s the screen you play the game on. Aside from the luggage, there’s almost no color in any of the presentation. You get a black and white screen, text scrolls through it, and then you play the game.

Still, the game runs well when you’re actually in the main game, so I can’t hold it against it. The presentation is very minimal and gives you nothing but what’s necessary, so it really doesn’t add or take away from the game in the end.

Fun Factor

Aero Porter is a puzzle game about baggage sorting. It has no reason to be interesting in any way, no reason to be fun or even more than just a simple curiosity to laugh at when you see it in the eShop.

But man, you just have to trust the developers sometimes, because Aero Porter is a ton of fun. It was a huge surprise to me that I enjoyed it so much, but with the myriad duties you have, the challenge of keeping your airport up and running and the constant deluge of new things to occupy you, Aero Porter winds up not just being a fun experience, but a rather gripping one as well. A gripping puzzle game. That’s not something you run into every day.

It also offers a really good replayable challenge. While the run up to a spaceport doesn’t take too long on its own, you can always improve your score on a daily basis, and the combo system gives you a chance to actually start unlocking new things for your plane. There’s clearly a lot of skill required to get to the better unlocks, but it’s such a difficult game it’s pretty hard to really earn those combos.

Which if there’s a problem to the game, it might be that it’s too stressful for it to really be a pick-up-and-play-whenever type of experience. A game like Tetris does get stressful, but that’s towards the end, and if you just want a quick game, then that’s there for you. Aero Porter is a little much at times—7 luggage racks to deal with is a lot if you’re a little tired or something and just wanted a quick game. It would be cool if you could scale back the size of your airport or something, even if it meant you didn’t get the full reward, just so you could have a simpler time. It’s a stressful experience, but at the end of the day, when you improve your performance and serve not just flights, but space shuttles and even the president, you feel pretty good about yourself.

Overall

Aero Porter is a game that never should have been fun, but against all odds, delivers a strong and entertaining experience that offers a lot of replay value. It’s got a lot of fun parts and offers an experience that all the best puzzle games need to offer, but at the same time, it’s worth wondering if the game is maybe too difficult. For as fun as the experience is, not being able to scale it back to something a little more manageable is a shame, but it’s a game that gives a great experience if you’re able to deal with the challenge.