Every now and then there is a new program that just jumps off your computer screen and screams play me! This is how I felt after the first time I played Tokyo Bigwing. It offered a totally immersive playing environment along with an easy to use and learn control system that required little or no learning on my part.
Tokyo Bigwing is an offering from a company called Techno Brain and is Japan based; this shows overall in both design and playability. Is this a bad thing? No, no way! This is a great thing because they have created one of the craziest and most fun ATC games I have ever played!
Out of the Box
Tokyo Bigwing ships in boxed format and from what I know, that is the only way to get it right now. The program comes on a single DVD disc and is accompanied by a full color manual that covers all of aspects of the games controls and modes of set up.
Once the program is installed you will have the option to either jump in and play or tweak the graphics environment a bit. I am all about getting the most out of my games, so the first thing I did was go and change my game settings. The default settings are all set at about medium after the installation so I went ahead and cranked mine all the way up, only leaving the shadows set to low.
I also found that turning the music off during game play was a good idea because the in game music tends to be a little overwhelming and repetitive especially with everything going on.
The Graphic Environment and Sound!
Tokyo Bigwing I am an Air Controller 3 creates a beautifully rendered version of Tokyo International Airport along with all sorts of different types of aircraft. The graphics are some of the best I have seen in this type of simulation, as it totally immerses the player into the operation of the airport by allowing him or her to see and hear everything from just about every perspective.
Each individual aircraft is broken down into two different airlines and it is either Red or Blue Airlines. At first I kind of thought this was, to say the least, unrealistic! But, after playing the game just one time, you quickly forget about it and enjoy the game for what it is. The aircraft in the game are convincing and are fun to watch.
The sound in the game is good, the music is a little overwhelming at times and the voices are hilarious! Not to offend, this is a Japanese made game and the designers used English speaking Japanese people to make the voice sets, so it is only reasonable that you would expect it to sound the way it does, not to mention you are controlling the skies over Tokyo! In all reality, the voice sets just add to the fun of the game and its pace.
Every vehicle and airplane also has its own sound set. So if you are sitting on the tarmac watching a plane during pushback, you will hear the pushback vehicle and the airplane start up after pushback. The sound for the aircraft is all encompassing. No matter what phase of flight they are in, you will hear the appropriate sounds!
The sound from the Tower is also enhanced, meaning that you will hear the muffled sounds of jet aircraft landing or taking off. Once again, I definitely recommend turning off the in-game music as it is really overwhelming and plays over the sounds you need to hear.
The biggest illusion of this game is that it presents itself as an ATC simulator or it is seen as one. It is in fact not and that can be observed when watching the scoring system. The game is considered a puzzle type of game where timing and memory is crucial for each and every flight.
For each successful flight you will be scored and at the end of each stage, if you beat the minimum score set by the designers, you have essentially won! Frankly, if you made it through an entire stage without an accident you can consider it a success. Scoring can be improved upon with attempts to beat your own score by getting flights where they need to be in a quicker fashion.
I really wish there had been a sandbox mode, with no scoring and no time limit, as this would have been ideal for training and just overall plane spotting. There is a tutorial but this game, in my opinion, requires no tutorial and is just fun to jump in and play. A sandbox mode would have allowed the user to just enjoy the game and its interface without the fear of it coming to an end.
Becoming an Air Traffic Controller in Tokyo Bigwing
Before you just jump in and play, you can check out the airport review mode which covers all the information regarding the airport and your control system, the tutorial and finally the Airport Viewer. The airport viewer will allow you to explore the airport without having to deal with planes. This is kind of fun if you want to check out the terminal and surrounding areas.
From the main screen you will select the airport, the scenario and level of difficulty you wish to play during your session. This is all relatively straightforward and what I like most about it, is that the designers have left this product wide open for adding things like new airports!
The game comes with 6 stages of playability, all from within the control tower of Tokyo International. Each level, or stage as they call it, is much more complex than the previous and as you progress through each stage, you will definitely need to keep a level head and be mindful of your actions, otherwise your career as an air traffic controller will come to an abrupt end. Once you pick a stage, you will have the option to either play it in NORMAL or EXPERT mode and I strongly recommend using the NORMAL mode for your first time out. Expert mode scares me!
In order to advance from one stage to another, you must complete each stage in succession and as you progress, you will deal with both day and night operation as well as inclement weather conditions.
Stage 1 consists of just getting aircraft to their parking spaces and directing them to their proper runways for takeoff. This is a great place to start as it isn’t as fast paced as the other stages of play. Once you have started your game, you will be introduced to an all out view of the airport. The main screen consists of a view of the airport with the options to move around to different areas of it and it also allows for automatic view switching when selecting an aircraft.
Over the main display are three boxes, one display the Flight Progress Strip, the other is a radar type of display that shows incoming and outgoing aircraft in the region and allows the user to switch to an optional ground radar type of display of the local airport. The third box is merely a dialog box although the voices are audible you will need this box! Finally, at the top of the screen you will see your time, score, stress level, wind reports and a click spot for a map screen of the airport that illustrates each of the runways and taxiways. On the bottom of the screen is the view bar and from here you can change your views to different parts of the airport, change it to the tower view, in total there are 14 different views that can be switched to not including the airplanes or the tower views.
Control of each and every aircraft is done through the Flight Progress Strip and this is done by clicking on it. When you open it you will get the options that are associated with that particular flight. For example clicking on the strip when the plane has requested pushback will result in a series of buttons that will direct the plane from its parked position. From pushback, to takeoff, landing and parking at the gates, you have full control and learning to use the other display boxes in conjunction with the Flight Progress Strip is crucial if you want to successfully complete each stage and get all of your planes on and off the ground.
What impressed me the most about Tokyo Bigwing was the way the program allows the user to set an aircraft's taxi path, a big problem I had figuring out when using another ATC sim! Once the aircraft has requested pushback, it will then request taxi instructions and it is there where you, the user, will set up the taxi path for each aircraft. This is done through a secondary display that illustrates the entire airport and the aircrafts default taxi path, from there you can modify this path visually thus preventing any kind of accidental collisions on the taxiway with other airplanes.
Inflight control of incoming aircraft is relatively simple, and all you really need to do is make sure that you aren’t clearing a plane to land on a runway where you have sent one to take off. Oh yeah, you also need to pay close attention to aircraft requesting clearance to cross a runway! I have found out on several occasions that just clearing them to go is not a good practice.
This game runs well on my E8500 Dual Core system with all of its setting maxed out, but what I wanted to see was how it would do on my AMD Turion Laptop. Surprisingly, with many of the sliders turned down I was actually able to get my Lap Top to play it and I couldn’t help but think what cool game this would be to have on a lap top when you just needed something to do!
In The End
Tokyo Bigwing was definitely a fresh and new approach to the ATC simulator set, it offers a different style of game play that is often fun and insanely fast paced! Having looked at one other Tower Sim this last year, I was befuddled by its overall game play and I have to say Tokyo Bigwing has remained on my PC and the other hasn’t!
With its approach to both casual players and hard core gamers, you can approach Tokyo Bigwing in one of two ways, play it as the game that it is, or experience it at its expert level of game play. Frankly, the expert level of play scares the heck out of me! For those that haven’t done so already, check it out because I really don’t think you will regret playing Tokyo Bigwing I am an Air Traffic Controller 3!
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