Dragon 32 Universe
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AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL

Air Traffic Control is another Microdeal import from the American software house of Tom Mix, by the author of the successful Space Shuttle and The King.

Objective

You control two runways, from which you must successfully guide the take-off and landing of numerous planes: two inbound and one outbound for each of the five difficulty levels i.e. ten inbound and five outbound on the hardest level.

In Play

The cursor is used to pick up and guide a particular plane. Thankfully, all planes are Remotely Piloted Vehicles, the inbound already circling at the start, the outbound queueing up at the right of the screen. You can alter the plane's bearing, its velocity or its height, within certain parameters. The outbound planes are automatically placed on the runway you've chosen (through picking the N, S, NW or SE bearing.) The alterations are easily made using the joystick to increase/decrease settings, and the fire-button to lock them in.

Before beginning, the program very sensibly asks if your machine can handle the double-speed poke, but even though my own Dragon can't, the action was quick and smooth enough for me, the graphics matching the Space Shuttle standard.

Everything takes place on the one screen, across the top of which is the wind speed (increases according to skill level), the direction it's blowing from, a clock showing number of minutes elapsed (bonus points for speed), and a space for error messages, which is the worst aspect of the program as these flash up only briefly, leaving you to wonder why your plane has suddenly disappeared mysteriously with not so much as a puff of smoke.

The controls were easier to master than the average flight simulator, and I soon enjoyed trying to bring a succession of planes safely down. Once on the runway, control switches to a smaller graphics panel at the foot of the screen, the Glide Slope: you must bring your plane down here, keeping a careful eye on another panel to the right showing drift and rate of descent. The BBC version has a separate landing sequence for this part.

Verdict

Yet another piece of first-class Dragon software from Microdeal. Add it to the shopping list.