Yes, it's fun and undeniably addictive, but there is some frustration in ATC, primarily with the finality of the commands you issue. Only one command in the game is reversible--"clear for landing"--which gives a pilot final confirmation to make a landing attempt. Aborting a landing will return that plane into a circling pattern, which itself can be problematic if you've got a lot of traffic in the air. None of the other commands can be taken back, and as a result, you can often see your mistakes far in advance of their eventual consequences. For example, if you decide to push a plane back from the gate before an incoming plane has finished its taxi routine, you can often count on those two planes colliding. There's no artificial intelligence on the pilot side that will assist you in avoiding these types of hazards. Instead, you are solely responsible for keeping every plane on the ground and in the air away from trouble.
There's also a good deal of rote memorization to the challenges in the game. If you attempt a scenario enough times, you'll know exactly when the wind speed and direction changes, then anticipate when additional planes are incoming. That said, the game's expert challenges can be incredibly difficult with windows of opportunity that seem better measured in seconds rather than minutes and where a single ill-conceived command can result in disaster later on in the scenario. There's lots of trial and error in Air Traffic Chaos, with a particular emphasis on the "error."
No time for flop sweat; you've got to keep that traffic moving!
Air Traffic Chaos would have benefited from a more varied set of modes. The game's anime-inspired character designs are just begging for a story mode that could flesh them out, but unfortunately, the 15 challenges are all that's available. There's no multiplayer either, though you can wirelessly share high scores with your fellow ATC players. Finally, budding pilots might get a kick out of the terminology glossary, which breaks down some of the realistic pilot/tower lingo used in the game.
At its most challenging moments, Air Traffic Chaos is a real test of your time-management skills, but only rarely does the game ever feel like a chore. More often, you'll be sucked in by the game's deceptively simple gameplay, compelled over and over to give a scenario another try. When you add in cute, SimCity DS-like graphics and a catchy soundtrack, you've got one of 2008's more surprising finds on the Nintendo DS. It might be flying under your radar, but Air Traffic Chaos deserves a look.