Ladies and Gentlemen, start your engines. As Nimblebit's Pocket Planes continues to barrel through its beta period, we've had a chance to try out one of its new features. It's been added since our GDC preview and we're pretty sure you're going to like it.

You know how Tiny Tower [Free] and Pocket Frogs [Free] have missions you can complete—stock this much of certain items, or breed certain colors and patterns of frogs? Pocket Planes is going to have missions, too, but they're competitive. For these ones, you're going to need a little help from your friends. Or rather, your flight crew.

A new Flight Crew challenge will be posted every so often—maybe twice a week. The challenges look to be pretty simple: deliver as many jobs (pieces of cargo and passengers) to a certain city somewhere in the world. You can't just take any old thing, though. Everything in the game has a destination, and the destination needs to match the city for this to work.

Your Flight Crew can have as many or as few people as you can muster, but the more the better: the crews who manage to bring in the most jobs will win some very cool in-game prizes. Like, say, the bad boy below. Look familiar? Nimblebit is hard at work making up some very cool secret planes as we speak—here's hoping for a good ol' fashioned airship. And on top of the cosmetics, it sounds like there will be a Bux reward to boot.

Now Pocket Planes is still a work in progress, so none of this is set in stone. But currently, the only thing you need to join a Flight Crew is a Game Center account (which you don't need to share with your crewmates) and a common Flight Crew name. If I were the sort of person who wanted to get a leg up on the competition, I might use that information to hit the forums and start drumming up a good team of people. While I was at it, I might try to recruit a few of the folks who have put 2323 pages of forum posts into trading frogs in Pocket Frogs. Those dudes seem like they might have the dedication for the job.

The rest of the game is coming along nicely, from what we've seen, and it looks like Zynga hasn't caught on to it so far (fingers crossed!). Nimblebit isn't ready to commit to a release window yet, but it can't be too far over the horizon at this point. So stick around—we'll have much more to show you as Pocket Planes gets ready to touch down.

  • Inaba-kun

    Those super blocky visuals are really going to give iPad 3 displays a work out. Got to love indie devs for continually pushing the graphical boundaries the way they do. Keep it up!

  • BigHurt360

    Oh man, this will be awesome for sure! Can't wait!

  • Dbhjed

    @ Inaba-kun I rather have good game play over graphics any day. Too many developers put too much of a focus on how the game looks and forget what really matters, how the game plays.

    • Adams Immersive

      I agree. At the same time, good graphics are too important to overlook. And retro-pixelated style is one way to do good graphics! NimbleBits has a real flair for that, and it’s not as easy it looks. NimbleBits did focus on how the game looks (as well as plays)—and their look does not require a retina display.

      (You could as easily criticize all 2D games for not taking advantage of 3D shaders and lighting.)

    • Inaba-kun

      I never said gameplay doesn't matter. There's no reason why good games can't also look good.

      That said, I always found Tiny Tower to be a repetitive grind fest designed to sell in app purchases. It was highly over-rated. Kairosoft did much the same thing with vastly more depth and gameplay in Mega Mall Story, and with no in app purchases. It even had super low end visuals too, just like Tiny Tower if that floats your boat. 

      The amount of extra work involved in drawing a sprite to 16x16 as opposed to 128x128 isn't all that much if you have the skill. The way I see it, making things needlessly crude is just a way to disguise a lack of artistic talent, as the whole nostalgia thing has long run out of steam. It's akin to slapping instagram filters on photos to disguise that you're a terrible photographer.

      As Eurogamer said their Fez review - "retro pixel art has become a careworn cliché of the indie game scene"

      • Tyler Piderit

        Thumbs up for Kairosoft games forever. Mega Mall Story was a complete blast and reminded me of Sim Tower so much!

  • LCB12321

    Funny you mention Zynga not catching on yet, when this looks all too familiar to star command.(not exactly I suppose but it's exactly what I thought of when I saw that pic.)

    And I know star command has been in development first. Now games are copying eachother before they're even released! /slight sarcasm

    • TouchGamePlay

      Star Command changed so often their Design/Genre/... in the last twelve Months that you could probably call almost any Game a Clone of Star Command that does have some Kind of Time Management Feature and were or will be launched this Year.

      I`m not saying that Star Command is the next Duke Nukem Forever but instead of calling everything a Clone of it we should maybe just wait and see how those Games work out at the End.

      • LCB12321

        Not really time management,more the storm troopers and ST uniform in the spaceship. Wasn't this suppose to be star commands big claim to fame?

        They were suppose to be the ones who copied the star treck meets sim God dammit!!!

    • marshmonkey

      Holy smokes! Did Star command invent spaceships? CLONE

    • Cat Astrophy

      Not only that but copycats are everywhere. It's not just Zygna.

      • mclifford82

        I don't see swathes of fanboys swarming to rate those other games 1 star and call them copycats.  Just Zynga games.  Cause damn the man!

      • Cat Astrophy

        Probably because Zygna has some of the worst IAP systems in the biz.

  • iphone

    New iphone software downloads

  • noober suckston

    It said it's releasing summer 2012 when I was checking the new update for Tiny Tower. Can't wait for this since it has retro pixel graphics!

  • maggie hart

    I know Everyone is awaiting the new game but as one who is still working through the froggy dex...I wish pocket frogs was able to synch between devices. Just saying.