Pilotwings has always been synonymous with the launch of a Nintendo console; or at least this was the case back in the 90’s. Having missed the Gamecube and Wii, Pilotwings is now aiding the launch of Nintendo’s 3DS. The handheld incarnation of Pilotwings offers some simple, addictive and oddly relaxing gameplay that perfectly demonstrates some of the new features of Nintendo’s new handheld. Yet, it doesn’t quite offer enough content to justify the price tag.
Pilotwings Resort is an arcade flight simulator that sees you cruising around Wuhu Island, previously seen in Wii Sports Resort and Wii Fit. You have the choice of nightmares between a free flight mode around the entire island that sees you hunting out secret and collectibles, and a mission mode. The missions are divided between the three main methods of transportation: powered plane, rocket belt (or jetpack as it is more commonly known) and hang glider. You even get to use your Miis as playable characters, making Pilotwings the only game at launch that supports this feature.
The free flight mode is fun enough, and very soothing after a hard day of work. It also gives you a good look at the size and scope of Wuhu Island, but it’s the missions that provide the core gaming experience. The missions are divided into separate classes that increase in difficulty. Progressing to the next class of missions requires you to finish all missions in the previous class and earn a certain number of stars. Each mission earns you up to three stars based on how well you do, giving you the incentive to keep going back and increasing your score for each mission. Points are awarded based on hitting objectives such as targets, balloons and other miscellaneous collectibles, as well as for the accuracy of your landing and the speed at which you finish the level. Flying in a fuel conscious manner will also net you some more points in the rocket belt levels.
The gameplay is very easy to pick up, with all forms of flight only requiring basic movement and brake controls. The controls are where Pilotwings start to show of the new features of the 3DS well, as the thumbstick is used for all your movements and it works like a charm. The challenges start off in a fairly simple manner, but slowly build up as you progress to include landings, target shooting and photography. The missions are varied and enjoyable as a result, but the sad thing is that there just aren’t enough of them. Completionists will find themselves well served by the addicting nature of constantly trying to get perfect runs on each of the courses, but those who are happy just clearing the stages will find barely a single evening taken up by Pilotwings Resort.
The visuals are a somewhat more fulfilling experience, with the cartoon aesthetic complementing the Mii character models. The hardware renders the island well, creating some beautiful set pieces, but it is the 3D effects that really give it that extra depth and spectacle. The increased depth perception the 3D graphics give also can help with lining up your landings. The main plus is that they really show off the 3D as, let’s be honest, you really want to have some good 3D in the launch games to show off the system’s stereoscopic capabilities. The problem comes in it showing off the 3D too well. There’s just too much depth sometimes, to the point where it becomes very disorientating. Thankfully you can get it just right by turning the 3D slider down to halfway, but you need to be careful you don’t make yourself too nauseous regardless. The only other issue with the visuals come in many repeated sections of map. Whilst Wuhu Island has a lot of varied sections, the texture differences in older Pilotwings games with ice levels and such is annoyingly absent. On the plus side the soundtrack is truly pimping. You know the composer has done himself proud when you’re whistling the tunes the next day.
Pilotwings Resort is the perfect launch title with its impressive 3D visuals, simple and addictive gameplay and classic Nintendo charm. Sadly with its lack of content, it can’t justify being any more than an awesome tech demo. PR is one of the superior 3DS launch titles, but don’t expect the thrills to keep coming. With only five or six hours of proper game time on the cartridge, one must think carefully before springing their cash on Pilotwings Resort.
This game was reviewed on the Nintendo 3DS.
Looks the part, Shows off the hardware well, 3D looks nice in small doses, Easy to learn, Kicking soundtrack, Varied missions, Addictive, Can be quite relaxing
3D can often be too extreme, Little progression for the series, Not much level variety, Seriously lacking in content
A satisfying tech demo for Nintendo's new handheld, with a ludicrous fun factor that is somewhat dampened by a lack of content