aera screen

iChromo's 2.5D flight action title Aera [$2.99] was one of the many new games to recently arrive in the App Store. Aera is a sort-of casual flight simulator / side scroller at heart.  At least, that's how iChromo describes it -- but it's a little more side scroller than flight simulator. Granted, that description might be a little hard to picture.  Think Pandemonium! -- or closer still, NiGHTS Into Dreams -- but in an airplane.

Aera puts you in tilt control of a variety of aircraft across a range of different play challenges.  There's Aerobatic / Solo, which is a run through the hoops and between the floating mines to collect a set number of balls within a time limit, Dog-Fight, which is, well, an aerial dog fight, and Race, which is a pylon to pylon (and back) run against the clock while dodging those pesky mines.  The various challenges can be played in a Campaign mode which features two tutorial levels and 10 missions (three Solo, three Race, 4 Dog-Fights) or a Quick Game mode that varies the challenges based on the difficulty level selected.  There's a no-pressure Free Flight mode, as well. There are two unlockable locations and 3 unlockable planes.

aera crashThe game features fluid animation and excellent graphics which combine to make a truly enjoyable tilt-centric gaming experience.  And there's lots of tilting.  Left / right tilting controls the plane's atttiude, a jerk forward or back performs a 180-degree roll, and a delicate dance of forward / back jerks files the plane in a blade formation (think of the Duke boys' best moments in the General Lee) which is useful in dogfights, as enemies cannot hit your craft when flying on end. Sensitivity adjustments are offered through the settings panel.

And speaking of dogfights, that's all about weapons, of course.  In dogfight mode, your plane has a forward gun with unlimited ammo as well as a limited amount of heat-seeking missiles that auto-lock if an enemy is well lined-up in your path.  When enemies are destroyed they release slowly falling point bonuses that can be collected to increase score.  But be careful collecting those close to the ground.

The game also features a local Wi-Fi multiplayer mode (with Duel and Capture the Flag modes) which I was not able to test.


[ Full HD version | Low Bandwidth version ]

As far as negatives, there seems to be a freezing bug in the game affecting some players. This forced the following warning from the developer:

IMPORTANT: please unplug your iPhone/iPod from computer when playing Aera, otherwise game can freeze occasionally; this issue is being addressed, will be fixed in the update.

As well, with only 10 distinct levels of progressive difficulty without a global leaderboard, long term playability is a legitimate concern. The game, however, does deliver such a fun and unique experience, that there can still be a lot of joy in replaying the included levels. The developer also indicates that they do plan on rolling out additional levels and locations over time.

Overall, Aera is a beautiful and enjoyable game that lived up to our expectations.

App Store Link: Aera, $2.99

TouchArcade Rating

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  • http://Wwe.fsdreamteam.com Frank

    This game are great. But, without a real online multiplayer system ther is nothing to do after complete the little campaign.

    • http://www.blakespot.com Blake Patterson

      Campaign is actually taking me some time...

      blakespot

  • http://Wwe.fsdreamteam.com Frank

    This game are great. But, without a real online multiplayer system ther is nothing to do after complete the little campaign.

    • http://www.blakespot.com Blake Patterson

      Campaign is actually taking me some time...

      blakespot

  • TGR

    This is the first review by blake which is not a retro remake, and still he manages to cram in a few retro comparisons 

    Ah no, only rakin'.

    • http://www.blakespot.com Blake Patterson

      That's definitely not true. I wish I could review only retro titles, but - alas...

  • TGR

    This is the first review by blake which is not a retro remake, and still he manages to cram in a few retro comparisons 

    Ah no, only rakin'.

    • http://www.blakespot.com Blake Patterson

      That's definitely not true. I wish I could review only retro titles, but - alas...

  • Yabols

    Kino!!! )))

  • Yabols

    Kino!!! )))

  • ekseight

    The freezing is not App related i think its more OS 3.1 issue, have that in many games when the phone i pluged in.

  • ekseight

    The freezing is not App related i think its more OS 3.1 issue, have that in many games when the phone i pluged in.

  • http://www.ichromo.com ichromo

    Thanks for the review!
    Regarding re-playability - we were planning from the very beginning to add more levels/missions/layouts in the updates, along with global leaderboards/scoring and other things.
    So, all of this is coming, along with few nice surprises :)
    We just wanted to release the game now to make sure gameplay mechanics work for everybody. But be assured, we plan on supporting and improving the game for long time, to make it even better!

    • Dimitris

      I can see that it's a game well designed and a lot of effort put into it.
      But after 15 or so minutes trying to control the plane I just gave up.
      The controls are extra sensitive and even with the adjustments it feels that I have no control over my plane.
      I also can't seem to find how to control the horizontal movement of the plane, which adds to the impression that I can't control the plane, no matter what.
      Maybe it's only me, but I would really love some other way to control the plane.

  • http://www.ichromo.com ichromo

    Thanks for the review!
    Regarding re-playability - we were planning from the very beginning to add more levels/missions/layouts in the updates, along with global leaderboards/scoring and other things.
    So, all of this is coming, along with few nice surprises :)
    We just wanted to release the game now to make sure gameplay mechanics work for everybody. But be assured, we plan on supporting and improving the game for long time, to make it even better!

    • Dimitris

      I can see that it's a game well designed and a lot of effort put into it.
      But after 15 or so minutes trying to control the plane I just gave up.
      The controls are extra sensitive and even with the adjustments it feels that I have no control over my plane.
      I also can't seem to find how to control the horizontal movement of the plane, which adds to the impression that I can't control the plane, no matter what.
      Maybe it's only me, but I would really love some other way to control the plane.

  • Jei

    Splendid game 9/10.

  • Jei

    Splendid game 9/10.

  • TKO

    Heck, I just bought it for the picture of the girl. Then I found there's a new picture for every plane. I want all the planes. :) (Oh, and stonking good game too. The whole 2.5D idea works marvelously) :D

    • wegmans

      lol @ stonking haha

  • TKO

    Heck, I just bought it for the picture of the girl. Then I found there's a new picture for every plane. I want all the planes. :) (Oh, and stonking good game too. The whole 2.5D idea works marvelously) :D

    • wegmans

      lol @ stonking haha

  • Nausicaa

    Got this game on launch, and while there are some minor issues with crashing, the game is an absolute gem, and that shouldn't stop anyone from buying it.

    The game has a simple pick-up-and-play appeal, but actually requires practice and skill to master. I love the yellow 'spade' airplane and the desert map. Very cool!

    I look forward to whatever new content the devs have planned.

  • Nausicaa

    Got this game on launch, and while there are some minor issues with crashing, the game is an absolute gem, and that shouldn't stop anyone from buying it.

    The game has a simple pick-up-and-play appeal, but actually requires practice and skill to master. I love the yellow 'spade' airplane and the desert map. Very cool!

    I look forward to whatever new content the devs have planned.

  • Kaervek

    It's nice for what it is. I was expecting a free-roaming dogfighter. Still looking for a Crimson Skies-like game for the iPhone. Perhaps there is one, and I've over looked it - anything out there?

  • Kaervek

    It's nice for what it is. I was expecting a free-roaming dogfighter. Still looking for a Crimson Skies-like game for the iPhone. Perhaps there is one, and I've over looked it - anything out there?

  • J

    most fun i've had on iphone!

  • J

    most fun i've had on iphone!

  • Dasbeasten

    Really disappointed that this won't work on 1st gen ipod touch. What's all this with games needing a microphone?

    • MikeR

      It does not say it does not work on the 1st gen ipod touch in iTunes? Where did you see that?

  • Dasbeasten

    Really disappointed that this won't work on 1st gen ipod touch. What's all this with games needing a microphone?

    • MikeR

      It does not say it does not work on the 1st gen ipod touch in iTunes? Where did you see that?

  • maikelg

    this game works fine and preety smooth on my 1st gen iPod Touch. I tried it out yesterday but like Dimitris said it feels like the plane is totally uncontrollable. I found it very frustrating that all my plane wanted to do is fly in loops endlessly and I couldn't get it to fly straight. I would prefer a control system more like Nanosaur's where you can steer your dino/plane with tilting. Also a cam behind the plane might be usefull to see where you are going.

  • maikelg

    this game works fine and preety smooth on my 1st gen iPod Touch. I tried it out yesterday but like Dimitris said it feels like the plane is totally uncontrollable. I found it very frustrating that all my plane wanted to do is fly in loops endlessly and I couldn't get it to fly straight. I would prefer a control system more like Nanosaur's where you can steer your dino/plane with tilting. Also a cam behind the plane might be usefull to see where you are going.

  • http://www.ichromo.com ichromo

    We will add controls calibrator in update, possibly even rework a bit tilt to pitch "conversion".
    But on other hand, controls have to be sensitive enough - so you can quickly manure in combat.

    • brandon

      yes, because one can't ever overestimate the importance of a quick manure during combat. :D

      Teasing asside, looks pretty, grats and gluck.

  • http://www.ichromo.com ichromo

    We will add controls calibrator in update, possibly even rework a bit tilt to pitch "conversion".
    But on other hand, controls have to be sensitive enough - so you can quickly manure in combat.

    • brandon

      yes, because one can't ever overestimate the importance of a quick manure during combat. :D

      Teasing asside, looks pretty, grats and gluck.

  • Marcel

    Oustanding game.
    You might want to get someone to check on your spelling though.
    No offense, as I'm non native speaker, and thus make a few myself.
    Check on ACHIEVEMENT in the menu, and EXPLAIN everywhere in the pop-ups.

  • Marcel

    Oustanding game.
    You might want to get someone to check on your spelling though.
    No offense, as I'm non native speaker, and thus make a few myself.
    Check on ACHIEVEMENT in the menu, and EXPLAIN everywhere in the pop-ups.

  • TKO

    Oh yeah guys .. whatever updates you're planning, don't forget to add more pictures of the *girls*! Should be able to do a full-screen shot of those gorgeous pictures in a menu-item where you're checking out the.. the planes, yeah, the planes, that's it.

    Great game though. Cool style, very polished, and fun!

  • TKO

    Oh yeah guys .. whatever updates you're planning, don't forget to add more pictures of the *girls*! Should be able to do a full-screen shot of those gorgeous pictures in a menu-item where you're checking out the.. the planes, yeah, the planes, that's it.

    Great game though. Cool style, very polished, and fun!

  • http://www.ichromo.com ichromo

    About problems with tilting some people experience, got some interesting feedback here.
    You have to tilt the device LEFT/RIGHT to make the plane go UP/DOWN. Apparently, this was not 100% clear, and some people were trying to tilt up/down - which will not give you the result.
    Please let me know if this helps.

    • JJ

      This was EXACTLY the info I was looking for.

      Talk about frusturation, I was 2 seconds from deleting the app and writing a nasty comment.

      You really should make sure the user understands this point because it completely changes my initial impression.

      All these people talking about intuitive controls are...smoking something I wish I had. UP/DOWN has controlled every plane game ever, sim or arcade.
      Certainly not LEFT/RIGHT.

  • http://www.ichromo.com ichromo

    About problems with tilting some people experience, got some interesting feedback here.
    You have to tilt the device LEFT/RIGHT to make the plane go UP/DOWN. Apparently, this was not 100% clear, and some people were trying to tilt up/down - which will not give you the result.
    Please let me know if this helps.

    • JJ

      This was EXACTLY the info I was looking for.

      Talk about frusturation, I was 2 seconds from deleting the app and writing a nasty comment.

      You really should make sure the user understands this point because it completely changes my initial impression.

      All these people talking about intuitive controls are...smoking something I wish I had. UP/DOWN has controlled every plane game ever, sim or arcade.
      Certainly not LEFT/RIGHT.

  • http://www.ichromo.com ichromo

    And yes, more girls (and more planes of course) are coming :)

  • http://www.ichromo.com ichromo

    And yes, more girls (and more planes of course) are coming :)

  • TKO

    Wohoo! :D

    Like the nature of the combat too ..hard to find a flight sim(-ish) these days where the combat stays so close. Nicely done. The rewind function is neat too ..love the way it's presented with rewind sounds and all.

    One teeny criticism though: The flight controls (IMHO) are set 'wrong' initially. ie: They're not intuitive with the tilt-right to climb / tilt-left to dive. I understand that that's set like a flight-stick - and that's what I'd prefer in an in-the-cockpit view. But with this side view you're essentially turning the phone clockwise to turn the plane counter-clockwise, and vice versa. Seems counter-intuitive.

    Well, at least there's an option to invert the controls, so not really a big issue. :) ..the girls more than make up for it. ;) (Very good artwork ..great use of light and shadow, and captures the style of that era perfectly.)

  • TKO

    Wohoo! :D

    Like the nature of the combat too ..hard to find a flight sim(-ish) these days where the combat stays so close. Nicely done. The rewind function is neat too ..love the way it's presented with rewind sounds and all.

    One teeny criticism though: The flight controls (IMHO) are set 'wrong' initially. ie: They're not intuitive with the tilt-right to climb / tilt-left to dive. I understand that that's set like a flight-stick - and that's what I'd prefer in an in-the-cockpit view. But with this side view you're essentially turning the phone clockwise to turn the plane counter-clockwise, and vice versa. Seems counter-intuitive.

    Well, at least there's an option to invert the controls, so not really a big issue. :) ..the girls more than make up for it. ;) (Very good artwork ..great use of light and shadow, and captures the style of that era perfectly.)

  • wegmans

    i bought this and man it's kinda tough! I just barely beat the first mission by 5 seconds ugh

  • wegmans

    i bought this and man it's kinda tough! I just barely beat the first mission by 5 seconds ugh

  • socciboy

    i just love this game,it seems tough initially,but ones you get the hang of the controls,its damn addicting,+ of course the girls :D

  • socciboy

    i just love this game,it seems tough initially,but ones you get the hang of the controls,its damn addicting,+ of course the girls :D