Flight Control Rocket by Electronic Arts icon

Flight Control Rocket ($0.99) by Electronic Arts is the new iteration of the hit Flight Control that originally hit the iPhone back in 2009. This new version is not the same as what you once knew. In fact, it’s better than ever before!

Rather than control airplanes back on Earth again, Firemint and Electronic Arts are taking you to the far reaches of the galaxy. Now you will be guiding various spaceships into their appropriate landing bays, collecting various robots that will help you get the best score possible, and even finding new ships along the way!

If you have played the original Flight Control (and really, who hasn’t by this point?), then you will know the gameplay immediately. Various colored ships will come in (in this case: red, green, yellow, and purple) from the edges of the screen, as indicated by the warning symbol. Then you must get them to their appropriate landing bays by drawing a line from the ship to the dock. Of course, it seems easy at first, but when your screen has 20 (or more) different ships at once, things get a teensy bit more complicated. Fortunately, you’ll be alerted (graphically and by sound) when there is a near-collision, and the entire screen will slow down for you to make last minute arrangements.

Flight Control Rocket by Electronic Arts screenshot

A huge difference from the original is that now it’s not automatically game over once you have a collision — there are lives now! You get three hearts per game, and getting one collision just means you lose a heart and the screen gets cleared of all current ships (your score and coins remains the same though). This is much better, and you have the option to pay an amount of coins after losing all three hearts to continue the game with your current score (within the time limit). This is great if you are only a few ships away from beating your own high score. Of course, it’s optional as well.

There is a tutorial level to help new players get acquainted with the game. After that, there are two more maps (Infinity and Odyssey), but one of which must be unlocked, though it will have various stages. Coins will randomly appear on the screen, which you simply tap on to collect. Coins will be used in the shop to get robots and other items.

As you play, you will unlock more unique ships — each ship will do something different, such as leaving behind still drones, splitting up into two ships when touched, or even firing out more ships in front of it. There are 15 different spacecraft to unlock, so you’ll have plenty of fun trying to get them all. Even large carrier ships carrying about 10 ships (all the same) will show up, which is an easy way to rack up points and coins.

In addition to various spaceships, the game has special robot companions that you can collect to improve your score. Robots can be bought in the shop, although you will have two to start with. Up to three can be equipped during a game, and they have abilities such as getting “criticals” (more points for a landing), more coins, and even more points overall. They will gain experience, and you can get power-up crystals (via the shop) to boost their effectiveness.

Of course, robots get tired too! After you use a robot companion for a few games, they will get “tired” and are depleted of energy. You will need to wait a while before you can use them again, or you can instantly recharge them with batteries (again, another purchase from the shop).

Flight Control Rocket by Electronic Arts screenshot

I’m not particularly fond of how this is set up — I wish that the robots would just stay “charged” up all the time. The way that they need batteries to be used again seems like a quick cash grab via dreadful in-app purchases from EA. Of course, no one is forcing you to use the robots or power-ups, but still…that’s a story for another day, though.

The game comes with Game Center integration for achievements, however, the leaderboards seem to be through EA’s own Origin network. I’m not sure why, as I believe that it would have just been better to have Game Center for all of that, but I digress.

As hard as it is to believe, this is the best version of Flight Control yet. Even without all of the various in-app purchases and coins for the shop, the game itself is extremely solid. The graphics are amazing and colorful (and optimized for the new iPad!), music and sounds are charming, and gameplay is extremely smooth.

This game is great for fans of the original Flight Control and even friendly for newbies! With the current price of $0.99 (for a universal app), I highly recommend you pick this up for your iPhones and [new] iPads.