Air Console Hero is the premium version of Air Console, giving players access to more than 100 party-friendly games, including some exclusive premium games that are not available to free users. Unfortunately, many of the titles up on offer—including some of the premium Air Console Hero titles—are less than stellar, often getting old after the initial play session.
Air Console is best experienced when playing trivia or Pictionary titles; in other words, games that have simple controls or lend themselves to a touch interface. Games that require complex movement often result in funny but frustrating situations, which occasionally lead to several of my friends wanting to quit or change the game.
Some standout premium games on offer include titles such as Golffriends, Dust Squad, and Cards Against Humanity—by far, one of the better games on offer on the service (which also can be played for free elsewhere). As mentioned earlier, the problems inherent to using touchscreen devices often lead to games feeling too hard to control, a good example of this is in Dust Squad.
Dust Squad is 1-6 action co-op/ arena battle game in which players take control of tanks in tightly designed maps littered with obstacles and the occasional enemy fodder. Although the game is sound mechanically, having to wait for friends who are having trouble progressing quickly zaps the fun out of the experience. This issue is compounded further when new players who have never played the title before join in on the fun.
The problem with the controls translates to pretty much all the games that offer players free movement. Thankfully, there are a small handful of titles that I found in which the controls didn’t mar the experience too badly, an example being the game PixWing. PixWing allows players to race or battle each other in low-poly 3D arenas that appear to be inspired from early PlayStation-era games. The reason PixWing works is due to the fact that the title was originally a iOS/Android mobile game designed to utilize the gyro tilt controls available in modern mobile devices, thus making it a perfect fit amongst the collection of games up on offer.
My second biggest issue with Air Console and Air Console Hero‘s list of available titles is that many of the games, especially the free-to-play titles, are simple clones of popular games. Games such as Tic Toc Boom and Brawlanders in particular feel lazy and uninspired, with the former being a simple Bomberman clone and Brawlanders a much more egregious and awful take on Super Smash Bros. The two titles just end up feeling like padding, almost akin to counterfeit NES systems of yore that would come preloaded with dubiously unlicensed ROMs and hacks of classic Nintendo games.
Finally, another small issue I have with Air Console, especially in contrast to other popular party games, is the fact that Air Console requires a stable internet connection while also having the game data itself stored online. A slow connection often meant lag, missed inputs, and an overall unpleasant experience.
Air Console Hero is a fairly inexpensive venture for those looking for a casual collection of games that anyone who has a smartphone can partake in. However, none of the games really stand out or warrant the $3.99 monthly subscription fee required to play, especially considering games like the Jackbox Party Collection of titles that often go on sale and offer users a much more refined, albeit smaller collection, of party games.
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