When you read a title like “Aerobiz Supersonic” on a cartridge cover, you almost instantly picture yourself inside a fighter’s cockpit shooting down enemy planes, sinking ships and blasting the occasional UFO out of the sky, at least that’s what I did back in 1995. Did I mention I had a lot of imagination and that I was seriously damaged from playing so many games? Well, I guess you know that by now. Anyhow, the game had nothing to do with shooting stuff or even piloting a plane, but it turned out to be quite a fun and original experience.
Being an aviation enthusiast, by the time I was 11 years old I had tittles like Mig-29, F-15 Strike Eagle II, F-22 Interceptor, After Burner, G-Loc Air Battle and the Strike saga in my collection, so I was used to playing aviation related games, however, Koei Studios (better known for their “Dynasty Warriors” games) released something totally different: a game where you could actually create an airline from scratch, open new routes in different regions and purchase travel-related businesses in various countries to generate more profit. Ladies and gents, meet Aerobiz Supersonic.
Aerobiz Supersonic saw the light of day in 1994 and was released for both the SNES and the Mega Drive / Genesis. While strategy and simulation games were not uncommon on the PC, 16 bit gamers had very few options in that department, especially us, the Mega Drive / Genesis lovers.
The game lets you choose the historical period that your airline is going to experience, which is absolutely cool, since your decision will affect the airline technology that you have available to purchase and the events the world is going to see (Olympics, wars, civil unrest and so on). Periods go from 1955 to 1975, where most of the planes where still propellers such as the DC-6 or the Constellation, 1970 to 1990, 1985 to 2005 and 2000 to 2020, all periods have their own special characteristic and the latter are quite fantastic since they include planes that were never really produced or even created. The objective of the game is quite clear and simple; you have 20 years to become the number 1 airline in the world. To do that, you will have to buy planes (checking the maintenance costs, the fuel consumption rate they have and minding how many miles they can actually fly), bid for airport slots in different cities, create new routes, and buy different venues throughout the world to help your company on its way to the top.
Since this is a turn based type of game, each turn equals to a financial quarter, and you have to make your decisions within that period, always keeping track of what your competitors are doing, just like in a game of chess. The game can be played with other friends (up to 3 of them) or against the computer, which is a worthy opponent, especially in the higher difficulty levels. You are constantly being assisted by a board of counsellors of some sort, that will brief you on the different aspects of your airline ie. how much money you are making or losing, if you need to tweak any of your routes by adding a plane or altering the route’s fare, etc.
Regarding the graphics, Aerobiz Supersonic keeps everything simple, which doesn’t mean it is bad. All the icons, the planes, the different options and all the maps are pretty clear to understand and they look somewhat nice, which makes the game even more enjoyable. Even now and then you get to see some very good looking cut scenes that fit perfectly within the game structure.
There are no disasters in the game, your airline is never attacked with Napalm fire, your hangars are never blown away by a tornado or any other Sim City like problems. However, some random events such as natural disasters, wars and touristy booms pop up every now and then and influence not only the amount of passengers you transport but the cost of oil too.
The music is nothing worth of an award, but accompanies the game well, and you can say that it complements it. I have been playing this game recently, and I can honestly say that the audio has held up well. Sounds relaxing, at least.
After 20 years of its release Aerobiz Supersonic, and also its predecessor for the PC “Aerobiz”, remain the only good airline sims in the market without any modern equivalent. I read somewhere that there is a Playstation game called Air Management ’96 also by KOEI but I could never get my hands on it since it was only commercialized in Japan. A few years ago, I was excited when I found “Airline Tycoon” and “Airline Tycoon 2” for the PC, but the silly look of the characters on them and the total lack of realism put out my fire right away.
Verdict:- If you are the action-only type of player I would suggest you to stay well away from this title, but if you enjoy even a tiny bit of strategy, then there is no doubt that you should get this game whenever you have the chance.
After 20 years, Aerobiz Supersonic remains fun, challenging and extremely addictive. Hopefully some indie studio will make a modern version of this sim someday.
It's also worth considering that this particular game was very rare on consoles like the Genesis so surely that's worth your time to go investigating right?
Second Opinion:- Transbot is used to games with minimal levels that repeat themselves as after all why would one need more than 2 right? Turns out that if you open yourself upto something completely different to 99% of the consoles games catalogue you will find a real treat. Bear in mind that this was on a console that was more made for arcade ports and fast paced shooters so the amount of content and above all else playability is huge.
Not released in many territories through Europe this was a cult gem that the magazines of the time such as Megatech and Mega raved about and rightly so, shame on Sega for not releasing it in places like the UK because when games are this rich in addictive gameplay it's a crime not to experience them.
Transbot Scores:- 8 out of 10