Anyone that has seen the movie version of Disney Pixar's Planes will know that it is basically Cars but in the sky. The company even promotes it as being above the world of Cars in the hope of ensuring the same levels of success. For the Nintendo DS tie-in, rather than go for a straight-up racer, Disneytoon Studios has amalgamated several styles into one pleasing little package.
Join Dusty Hopper and friends in a whole host of scenarios based around events that take place after the happenings of the original Disney Pixar movie of the same name, Planes. What the development team has done this time round is make a tie-in that offers more than just bland gameplay with poor presentation, but a big, shiny logo to entice parents to part with cold, hard cash for something that is not really deserving of their children's time. This is a good quality product that will keep youngsters glued to their Nintendo DS systems for quite some time.
In this Nintendo DS version, players are given the chance to jump straight into a Story mode, working through various missions, such as painting dirty barns, rescuing tractors in a storm, breaking down unwanted billboards, and various other objectives that revolve around a similar theme. They are all based around the premise of Dusty being a renowned racer, yet still keeping his feet (wheels?) on the ground, maintaining plenty of humility and helping those in need out whenever necessary. There are chapters where other popular characters from the film can be played as, also.
As well as flying around various 3D locations taking on missions, there are Challenge, Race, and Balloon modes to pass the time - all of which must be unlocked by progressing through Story - and those that like going back to improve their scores can do, with the incentive of fulfilling all the criteria in the Achievements section being served up. Boosting, slowing when necessary, flipping around, loop-the-looping - what is expected from flying about is all present and correct. Voice actors from the movie are included as well, with constant voice work during the story mode sections and in-game action - highly surprising, and whilst the quality is very rough, it adds to the experience considerably. Technically, the developer has managed to bring a nicely polished effort to the humble DS hardware, whilst bringing a range of gameplay aspects that will definitely please children (and big kids!).
Take on daring missions, race to the finish line, play through the story as various characters - this mix of Pilotwings-style challenges and standard airborne racing makes for a much better than expected overall experience, with tight controls that any age can get accustomed to quickly.
Considering the humble hardware limitations, the 3D landscapes are quite solid and filled with plenty of detail. Some of the buildings around the locations may seem bland, but for the speed that Dusty and company go, it cannot be knocked too much!
Impressively, there is a whole host of voice work included to increase the authenticity of the product. Whilst grainy in quality, squeezing the movie's voice team in for the majority of the game is a definite pleasing addition, and complements the uplifting soundtrack very well indeed.
Packed to the brim with content, Planes bodes well for those parents hoping to get great value for money and keep their children occupied for lengthy periods. Between the Story, Challenge, Race, and Balloon modes, along with the ability to track achievements throughout, this is a worthy investment for fans of the movie.
Disney Pixar's Planes brings to the table somewhat of a surprise - a movie tie-in that is actually fun! Yes, the development team has crafted a game with impressive racing elements and some engaging mission-based modes with plenty of story and lots of voice actors returning from the film. Parents should not have any concerns about picking this Nintendo DS title up for their children, and big kids might have a good time with it as well!