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Daily iPhone App: Pocket Planes flies high

Odds are that if you read our quick interview with NimbleBit, you already went to check out Pocket Planes, the new freemium title from brother David and Ian Marsh. If you were a big fan of Tiny Tower, you've probably been counting the days until it arrived, already knowing just how addictive these deliciously grindy games can be. But if you've never heard of NimbleBit or played Tiny Tower, maybe you need me to tell you: Go play Pocket Planes.

The one caveat is that it is a time-based freemium title: The gameplay consists of a series of small bursts on various cycles rather than a full-fledged traditional game. But just like Tiny Tower and Pocket Frogs before it, Pocket Planes is polished to a brilliant shine. It features the Tiny Tower bitizens, and this time, they're flying planes around a real world pixel map. Using coins and bux, you can set up airports, fly passengers and cargo around the world, and slowly build up your tiny little (gigantic) airplane empire.

A lot of people have noted that the game's more complicated than NimbleBit's previous titles, but only in that there are slightly more interesting choices to be made: You get to set your planes out on routes you choose, and given that fuel costs gold every time you fly, it's always possible that you'll spend more on gold than you are able to earn by delivering your cargo. Some cities are snowed in or otherwise blocked off, too, so making the right choices about where to send your planes for the most money isn't immediately apparently. Experienced gamers will probably like the extra complexity, however, and I have a feeling that even casual players will learn that making the right choices can be more fun than just tapping away for profit.

And there are plenty of fun extras in the game, too. NimbleBit has clearly learned a lot from Tiny Tower and its various patches. You can take on flights to a randomly selected town every three days to earn extra money and items, and you can even join a "flight crew" with other players, which allows for some very light, very anonymous multiplayer gameplay. The "BitBook" fake social network is back from Tiny Tower, and the citizens post some hilarious updates.

With tons of planes to build and collect, hundreds of airports to open and upgrade, and lots and lots of great characters and production value, Pocket Planes is a great iPhone title. It's another jewel in NimbleBit's very profitable crown, and unless freemium titles cause you to break out in hives, it's a must-play game. Download it now for free in a universal build. Oh, and join the "#schramm" flight crew -- we're #311 in the world and growing!

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