Porterbliss: Aero Porter (3DS eShop)

This is Portabliss, a column about downloadable games that can be played on the go.

I didn't think it was possible, but I feel sympathy for the people in airports who deal with my luggage. But only if I imagine all of the sorting is done by one person, in a system exactly like the one shown in Aero Porter. I ... would have to imagine that's not how it really is.

Aero Porter puts you in charge of all the luggage being checked in at an airport, which has been conveniently color-coded to match the plane it's supposed to be on. Planes come into their gate, and luggage comes down a chute onto a circular conveyer belt. Using the R button, you then lower a ramp on the belt to drop suitcases down one level at a time. This way, you sort all of your continually arriving luggage into their proper conveyer belts, then press a button to load it all onto a plane.

Of course you have to deal with each plane's individual time limit. And you have to watch all the conveyer belts at once, because lowering one lowers them all, meaning you'll frequently accidentally drop something too far because you're not paying attention to the lower levels. To fix that problem, you can press the L button to move another ramp and raise packages up, which requires the same timing and attention. Later, you get the ability to speed up and slow down the conveyers.

To further split your mind, you have to keep an eye on the fuel level for the whole sorting system. When fuel empties out, you're stuck at half speed and the lights go out, so you can barely see the lower conveyers. You then have to buy a fuel tank and send it all the way down to the lowest level. Occasionally, a "VIP" will drop off a suitcase, which has to be loaded onto its plane first, and separately from everything else of the same color. And "suspicious packages" must be identified and sent to a disposal vehicle.

Your success, or failure, determines how many customers your airport serves, which in turn determines how much money you have for fuel replacement. Your airport will grow as you complete levels, and you can design and trade your own airplanes over StreetPass once you've reached a certain level.

I'm neither proud nor ashamed to admit I'm terrible at Aero Porter. Airport manager Bob Saito (a possible fictional relative of designer Yoot Saito, who gives you your objectives every shift) is frequently, vocally disappointed with my performance, though he puts a brave face on it and encourages me every time I play.

Despite my continual poor performance, I'm driven to keep trying. Aero Porter is frustrating, oscillating between overwhelming speed and slow-motion failure. But it's also an intriguingly different take on what is, I guess, a falling-block puzzle game.

This Portabliss is based on a 3DS download of Aero Porter, available now for $4.99.