Hardware has advanced to the stage that one can now enjoy some reasonably detailed light simulators on their mobile phone, but if you want a flight sim that's distilled down to some arcade-level barebones action, you could very well enjoy the action of Mayday! Emergency Landing. Instead of trying to provide an experience that takes you from take-off to landing and everything in between, this game is concerned solely with landing your plane, only under some pretty tricky conditions that are at best adverse and at worst downright perilous.
Premise and Controls
Using your mobile device's accelerometer, you'll be guiding your plane to an emergency landing and trying to save yourself as well as all passengers on board. You'll be doing so in a very arcade-game style that guides you in the way that traditional flight simulators (such as Infinite Flight) do not. The premise involves taking over control of an aircraft that is already in the air and suffering a variety of different problems. You'll be tested in various ways with a variety of different scenarios that will require slightly different strategies. All the while you're able to follow the pre-set flight path by flying towards and through the green rings.
Controlling your aircraft just so happens to be one of the pleasures of arcade-style flight games, and this game is no exception. Simplicity abounds in the accelerometer-based controls since you simply have to tilt the phone/tablet forward or backwards to make the plane descend or climb respectively. Similarly, tilting left or right causes the plane to roll in the appropriate direction. These are the only movement controls you really need to remember, making the game very intuitive from the get-go. Furthermore, you'll need to do things like deploy the landing gear when coming in for your landings, with such actions being facilitated by the virtual button that appears on the screen.
Playing this game is all about timing, and of course reacting to the relatively few variables that it throws at you. These variables come in the weather conditions, which vary from mission to mission in order to try and keep you on your toes. You'll notice that wind in particular makes controlling the aeroplane quite challenging, though at the same time you may take note that the missions can become quite repetitive because it's really just repeating the act of landing a plane in slightly different conditions every time.
The different conditions you're subjected to include heavy wind, turbulence, landing in the dark, and weather that obscures your view like heavy rain and fog. The game can be frustrating at times because of how sensitive the controls are, and there's no option to calibrate the accelerometer in any way that actually helps you maintain an equilibrium. You'll find yourself struggling to play the game if you're in any position other than being sat down on a seat that isn't in motion. This rules out playing the game on a busy train, packed bus, or ironically a real-life plane that is in motion.
Thankfully, the relatively limited number of possible variations in your approach seem a little less monotonous considering how many missions are available, though only if you're prepared to pay for any more missions than the game provides for free. If you want to enjoy all of the missions the game has to offer, the developers of the game, Reludo Games, have made it so that you have to pay for the additional missions. However, developers have to make money somehow, and this seems the least intrusive way to do so, mainly because there aren't exactly many upgrade trees that can be punctuated by in-app purchases.
There's not really much to say about the game's graphics since this isn't a simulation that requires immensely detailed models of aircraft. Most of the time you're in first-person view anyhow, though the environment around you is reasonably detailed, enough to create a moderately tense atmosphere anyhow. You've even got a handy altitude and air speed reading that sit either side of the crosshair-like marker that denotes the centre of your plane's view.
Performance and Conclusion
Though the tilt controls offer a certain satisfying feeling when landing for the first few times, you'll notice the general performance of the game is lacking because, well, the control mechanics are a little too sensitive to play the game in any position but a stable, fixed one where you have complete control over every single movement you make. Still, this isn't a flight sim-level kind of game and therefore doesn't need the detail or fidelity of one, making it perfectly suitable for its audience and a very popular game on the app store.