You haven’t flown till you’ve flown 3D
Yes, the 3D on the 3DS might very well revert the outer layer of your eyes inside out, but back in the 90’s there was one game which required so much patience and precision that it posed a greater danger to my young eyes. Pilotwings on the SNES was an aerobatic test of skill and agility that was brutally unforgiving (at least for young thumbs), which required precise judgement and pain staking perfection. It was the perfect mix of unforgiving difficulty that would make any OCD freak scrub their hair clean off, and poking at your determination for several more goes. The punishing requirements and sheer amount of screen burn etched to eye-sockets from hours of furrowed screen staring meant that at a young age, this was the closest thing I had to a job. Now that I’m actually employed with a salary that isn’t Jelly Tots, however, will the more family friendly reboot Pilotwings Resort do better at calming blood pressure so it isn’t seeping out of pores?
Pilotwings Resort whisks you away to the idyllic and now trademark Nintendo holiday hotspot Wuhu Island. Those more dedicated Nintendoids have already jogged, scootered and canoed the breath of the island, but now players can fly, para-glide and blast through the clouds of the resort donning rocket backpacks. The tourist board doesn’t exactly offer this sort of activity for fun, however, and smacking into turbines at 100mph won’t give you a cosy hospital bed, but a smack on the wrist, a deduction of points, and strict instruction to get back in the air. Well, at least as strict as a Mii can get…
It takes exactly three minutes to grab your pilot’s license, as a quick trial with the three primary vehicles is all that’s needed to throw you into the thankfully unpopulated skies of Wuhu Island. Planes handle very much like your stereotypical arcade endorsed aircraft, and slices through the air with ease. The ‘Rocket Belt’ on the other hand, jettisons you through the skies if mishandled. Like all awesome things with rockets, life goes by much quicker and much easier with this handy jet-pack, especially when it comes to landing. The ‘Hang Glider’ handles mostly the same as the plane, except naturally approaching upwards will slow you down and ironically force you to fall, forcing you to take advantage of several ‘minor’ whirlwinds to hoist you back upwards. There’s sure to be a least favourite form of aerial transport for everyone, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it were the Hang Glider that’s in constant need of gravity defying babysitting, but all handle impressively well from lift off to landing and truly make flying around the island greatly entertaining.
It’s pretty easy to blitz through the game in a couple of sittings
Tasks usually consist of following set flight paths as closely as possible, sticking to guide dots and scoring through flight rings, yet the tight controls and bite-size structure of the missions makes them a breeze and a joy to float through. Sometimes you’re given the opportunity to mix up your flight experience with UFO collections or dousing fires, and it’s a shame there aren’t many more variations, but all of the tasks compliment the gameplay and controls brilliantly.
Unfortunately the rapid delivery of missions also proves to be the downside of Pilotwings Resort. Despite the steady difficulty curve, it’s pretty easy to blitz through the game in a couple of sittings. Though an additional ‘Free Flight’ mode allows you to glide through the island in a vehicle of your choice grabbing collectables, it’s not enough to increase the lifespan, and the rewards on offer are nothing but figurines of locations flown over multiple times before. Pilotwings Resort has a nasty tendency to shove sightseeing and tourism right down your throat, and it comes straight back up with disappointing results.
The only way to extend your time with the game is by perfecting your performances. Each mission is ranked by three stars, and getting only two will let you unlock the next tier of difficulty. A 100% flight record requires taming of aircraft, blissful landings and craters of patience. Strangely, simply unlocking future stages is a basic affair and poses no threat, so dedication to let the game extend past a four hour benchmark relies on obsessive compulsive tendencies.
The graphics contain everything a staple Mii populated Nintendo title has. From up high, the island of Wuhu looks like a glorious birthday cake, an aspect of the environment you never realise until staring down upon it. Everything’s lush, everything’s friendly and though it doesn’t have an innovative charm to it, it’s still good to look at. It’s a shame then, that the 3D features do absolutely nothing to give it a real spark. The only things that really make any decent attempt to pop out are the aircraft themselves, everything else can easily be mistaken for colourful cataracts. There is barely any effort to excel the 3D capabilities, or even be at all average with very little to build on.
Pilotwings Resort is a fun, yet simply competent launch title. The gameplay is top notch and flying is a cheerful arcade joyride that is addictive right to the final mission. Unfortunately, the incentive to perfect your skills and replay stages is slim. The one location grates after a while, especially after a few limitless ‘Free Flights’ around the island, and poor prizes on offer to those who do choose to divulge. As it sits on the shelves, it’s definitely a niche that should appeal straight away for those wishing for a fun flight simulation, but for others, it’ll only just last a short stint in the flight lounge.
The Bad: Doesn’t make much of an effort to push the 3D capabilities, No great rewards for excelling at the mini-games
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