Review: TinyPlane (Xbox Live)
This is another of Nokia's exclusive Xbox Live titles that is part of the deal with Electronic Arts. That's the same deal that has seen titles like FIFA 13, Real Racing 2, and Tiger Woods 12, come to the Lumia platform. If you ever wondered what the downside of that deal was, strap yourself in, it's time to find out.
Taking the role of a flying dog, you'll be controlling the climbing and diving of a small plane as you work through the sky picking up as many goodies as you can. Pitching up the plane, you will climb, push the nose over and you dive towards the ground. It's a nice game mechanic, but you're never at risk of stalling or falling out of the sky because of aerodynamics - this is not that sort of game.
The only concession to flight dynamics is your fuel. This will reduce (in a linear fashion) as you fly through the levels, only filling up when you slam your undercarriage into a runway... bounce along a bit at top speed, watch the tank filling up, and take back to the skies again.
If you're looking for something accurate, this is not the place to be - expect very arcade like controls and responses here, with either the tilt controls matching the twist of your smartphone to the pitch of the aircraft, or the use of the touchscreen to pitch up (tap the right hand side of the screen), or pitch down (tap on the left). Very basic, with little echoing of physics.
So, what do you do with this power of flight? You fly through the air picking up coins (which can be used to buy better aircraft in the future) or fruit, which will give you a little speed boost in the sky. If you want to put on even more speed, then you'll need to fly through the larger hoops in the sky.
Your problem will be spotting them in time. As a side scrolling game, your view is very much limited. Couple this with the sluggish response of the aircraft to the control inputs, and you'll find that your only hope for picking up a decent line of coins or fruit is to have them appear in front of you when you fly. Once they appear on the screen it's too late to climb or dive to pick them up if you are not already pointing at them.
If that wasn't frustrating enough, the same goes for obstacles. With burning torches and mines in the sky to navigate past, it's very easy to have an unavoidable death take place - which doesn't make for a game that feels fair. You have a little bit of a guide on the right hand edge of the screen with a red line indicating the danger zones coming up, so you have a chance to steer away, but it's not much.
It would have been nice to have a similar 'upcoming' line in green for the good stuff that's coming up.
Oh and there are missiles that will fire in from behind the aircraft that you need to try and avoid as well - and if you are using the touchscreen to control the aircraft the missiles will appear in the blind spot covered by your left thumb.
It takes a special effort to put together a game that is so smooth in scrolling, which is technically stable, and works so well with the operating system - but is totally devoid of any addictive qualities, clever thinking around the gameplay, or any pride from the developers. TinyPlane is not a good game, nor is it a bad game, it just ... exists.
Reviewed by Ewan Spence at