It's not long into "Aero Porter" before the game blares at you: "The fate of the world is in your hands with this one!"
What are you? A spy? A nuclear physicist? Secretary-general of the United Nations? No, you're an, um, aero porter.
You see, Air Force One has landed at the airport where you sort baggage, and not only do you have to keep track of the president's bags, someone has put a bomb onto the carousel and it will be loaded onto the president's plane if you don't pull a lever to divert the conveyor belt toward the bomb disposal truck.
Game designers have been wringing fun out of real-life work for years -- just look at the "Harvest Moon" series, which makes farm chores so crazily addictive you'd think plows would be classified a controlled substance. But "Aero Porter," even with random emergencies like the attempted bombing of Air Force One, is a bridge too far.
|» System: 3DS
» Price: $4.99
This baggage-handling simulator -- which is really a puzzle game -- has you pressing buttons to switch bags among conveyor belts so they get to the right plane. The game adds wrinkles at regular intervals, like turning off lights to conserve energy, but they make the game harder, not more interesting. The resulting experience has all the tension of a puzzle game with none of the payoff.
"Aero Porter" is an especial disappointment considering it comes from Yoot Saito, the game designer with the most hilarious resume in the industry. You may know him from the tragically undersung PC classic "SimTower," the pinball-strategy mashup "Odama" on the Gamecube, or the Dreamcast pet simulator "Seaman," whose voice recognition technology let you give commands to an, ahem, seminal-looking creature with the face of Saito himself. The man has shown he can make both great puzzle games and great sims. What happened here?
- Ryan Vogt