This is the twenty-fifth entry in the Scratching That Itch series, wherein I randomly select and write about one of the 1704 1741 games and game-related things included in the Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality. The Bundle raised $8,175,279.81 $8,149,829.66 split evenly between the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and Community Bail Fund, but don’t worry if you missed it. There are plenty of ways you can help support the vital cause of racial justice; try here for a start. Lastly, as always, you may click on images to view larger versions.

Readers, it has come to my attention that there are more than 1704 items in the Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality. There are in fact 1741. I am certain that when the bundle had just finished, there were 1704 items included, and this was also reported elsewhere, so I’m not crazy. At some point later, more items were added, bringing the total to 1741. But never fear, my random selections have actually been random, as they are based on first picking one of the 58 pages of entries in the bundle, and then picking one of the 30 entries per page (except for page 58, which has 31 items to account for the single entry on page 59). I simply realized that (58*30) + 1 = 1741, not 1704, and then confirmed the correct total on the page. I have edited earlier entries in the series to reflect this new total. It’s a small enough change that our percentage of completion is barely affected.

This time, the random numbers picked 2d flight simulator, by phstsoftware. Its tagline in the bundle reads:

An arcade 2d flight simulator

I guess the title is pretty self-explanatory.

I’ll be honest, upon first seeing 2d flight simulator I was convinced it was a joke game. The art looks like it was hastily constructed in Microsoft Paint, which is far less sophisticated than Microsoft Flight Simulator despite being made by the same company. And the idea of simulating flight in two dimensions seems silly, as surely it would oversimplify the physics to the point of triviality. I suspected I was in for another satirical take, like Don’t Move.

I can’t tell if the description of 2d flight simulator on its page is meant to be serious. It claims to accurately model several real passenger aircraft, as well as several real airports. To bolster its claims of authentic flight modeling, it simply lists “flaps”, “speed brake”, “landing gear”, and “reverser” as features. That sure doesn’t sound very sophisitcated. But then the asking price (for those who didn’t get it in the bundle) is 19.99€, which would be absurd for a joke game. Maybe, despite its primitive appearance, 2d flight simulator contains some complex systems under the hood?

Readers, it does not. After a login screen into which I entered a fake email address, fearing some kind of spam or worse, I hit a connection error and had to force-quit with ALT+F4. Relaunching the game, however, skipped the login screen and got me a title menu. I could choose an origin and destination airport, but only the Airbus A320 was available to fly, implying the other planes would only unlock when I’d earned enough XP. Then I was unceremoniously dumped on a generic-looking runway which certainly didn’t seem to be unique to the airport I’d chosen, and was treated to a short and poorly-looped engine sound that is the game’s only sound effect. The controls I’d been shown a few seconds before didn’t seem to work, as the plane refused to accelerate. After hitting keys a few times and attempting to click the large things across the top of the screen that might be buttons for optional mouse control, the plane started inching forwards, and then suddenly sped up, seemingly through no input of my own. As I neared the end of the runway I used the up arrow key to nose upwards, which kept my plane centered on the screen but tilted everything else, and soon I was gazing at a featureless flat blue sky and watching the distance to my destination count down in the corner.

I faffed about trying to retract the landing gear, which didn’t respond to the key that I was told, or seemingly the button(?) on the top of the screen, or maybe it just had an inexplicably huge input lag? On my first flight the landing gear did eventually retract, but on my second flight I couldn’t manage to repeat that feat. Naturally, I overshot my destination but the distance numbers auto-corrected themselves, so I guess the game automates circling the runway? I wasn’t entirely sure how to slow down, it seems to have incremental rather than smooth speed settings, but I came in too fast and hit the ground right in front of the destination runway. This just popped up a cursory “That’s it!” screen. Had I crashed? Maybe, as I’d earned zero XP from the flight and apparently delivered zero passengers.

I still have no idea what the flaps, brake, or reverser actually do, or how to even engage them. I tried another flight which was similarly disastrous. If there is any actual challenge here, I assume it is in landing properly, but I have no idea how to accomplish that nor any particular desire to figure it out. Choosing different airports for my second flight made no discernable difference, and absolutely nothing happens while in the air other than a few seconds of watching distances count down. There’s no physics, no simulation of the actual flight whatsoever, just some mysterious requirements for successfully landing. Yet there’s also nothing in 2d flight simulator that suggests it was intended as a joke, no mocking of achievements or microtransactions or any humorous elements at all. It’s just bad. One to avoid in the bundle, and certainly not one to pay a preposterous 19.99€ for.

That’s 25 down, and only 1716 to go!