Developer: Monster Games/Nintendo
Genre: Flight Simulation
Release Date: 3DS
NA – March 25, 2011
EU – March 27, 2011
JP – April 14, 2011
AU – April 14, 2011
Rating: ESRB E
When the need for a casual flight sim, with easy going objectives and a laid back feel arises, Pilotwings Resort steps up and rises to the call. Having nearly a 15 year break from the franchise, Nintendo chose an ideal time to launch a sequel to the franchise. I was certain that a game of this caliber, with a very small fan base of only the most hardcore gamers would be laid to rest after the Nintendo 64 title, Pilotwings 64, was launched. However, born anew under the turn of the new revolution for handheld games, Pilotwings Resort brings all of the fun into a whole new dimension.
Pilotwings Resort is very self explanatory from the moment the game is turned on through each and every menu. From the title screen, there are two separate game modes available: Mission Mode and Free Flight Mode. The other menu option (aside from Options) is Diorama, where unlockable images of the vehicles are placed to view. Fans may recognize the island that the game takes place on. It is none other than Wuhu island, the same place used in Wii Fit and Wii Sports Resort.
In Mission mode, the objective is to advance through the classes, starting at Training and ending with Platinum, totaling 42 missions all together. Each mission is assigned a specific vehicle that must be used to complete the objectives while being graded on the very familiar scale. This scale measures how fast the mission was completed (with a time set to obtain the most points), how many rings/orbs/speed panels must be obtained, landing impact, and landing accuracy. These points are then tallied up at the end of a stage and give a ranking of one, two or three stars. The three stars can also be outlined in red, signifying a perfect score (140/140, for example).
Free flight mode isn’t as simple as it sounds. Using any vehicle, the player is able to freely fly about the island with only one restriction: a time limit. While flying, there are balloons, rings, trophies, stunt rings and information circles that can be flown into to collect. As those items are obtained, more time is given during free flight, and dioramas are unlocked. The vehicles available to use are based on which ones were unlocked during the Mission mode, so there is a lot of reliance upon each game mode to complete the game. The game also requires the player to use all of the vehicles to obtain the different balloons and rings, as only the ones applicable to the vehicle being used are actually highlighted and able to be accessed during that flight.
Some of the new features that they’ve added is the ability to use a Mii saved on the console to be the avatar within the game. The Mii isn’t blatantly visible except when a mission is over, or the vehicle has been wrecked in some manner. Speaking of, wrecking in this game no longer constitutes an immediate mission failure, but rather restarts the aircraft in the last viable place to continue the mission. This makes for a much more fluid experience as the player is no longer required to restart from the very beginning just because of one simple mistake. There are also the addition of speed plates. These plates require the vehicle to be traveling at a certain speed to break through them and score the points. This can also be challenging, as the plates must be broken towards the center as well to obtain the maximum points. Therefore accuracy and speed are both needed to ensure a good score at the end of a level. There are also a few brand new vehicles that have been added to the repertoire that add quite a new flair to the game. While I will not spoil all of them, I will talk about one: the squirrel suit. Quite easily the biggest surprise, the character starts off with a jet pack, and after flying through a special ring, the Mii throws off the jet pack. Much like sky diving was in the old games, the character is plummeted towards the island. However, the suit that the Mii is equipped with is webbed under the arms and legs, allowing for wind resistance to slow and maneuver the character within the sky. It absolutely blew me away the first time I saw it.
Visually, the game is beautiful. With no 3D, it is easy to see that the 3DS makes leaps and bounds above the DS/DSi’s graphics. With much smoother polygons, as well as a further visibility range, it is quite easy to see the difference between the two systems, and just how much raw power that the 3DS is capable of. Where the “awe factor” really comes into play is the 3D aspect. It took my eyes a bit of getting used to, but, as stated in my 3DS first impression, that the 3D slider does not make the images pop out of the console, but rather adds depth to the game, allowing the player to determine distance with greater ease. Rings are much more easy to fly through, there is no more last minute correcting to fly into an orb, and accidental tree smashing are no longer a problem. The aircraft’s relative distance to everything in it’s surroundings are all very clear now. This became very apparent when I had to fly through a cave. I (nearly) made it through without hitting a wall. I got a little bold, however, and went a bit faster than I should have.
Musically, the game does retain the peaceful soundtracks that I can remember from the older games. Flying a hand glider will present much softer music than, say, using a jet pack. I personally was not overly impressed, and actually don’t feel like I am missing anything when I turn it down to listen to something else. Still, the game is not renowned for its impeccable soundtrack, and therefore, I have not judged too harshly on it. It still goes with saying that listening to the soundtrack will not spur the urge to hunt on import sites to purchase a copy to listen to outside of the game.
A few things I wish they had or kept within the game were the second rendition of the hand glider. In the Nintendo 64 version the player was presented with a hand glider that had an enormous wingspan. It looked a lot more incredible flying with that than the stumpy hand glider that is usable in this game. Also, I miss having the instructors for each flight class. A flight simulator is hard to give ‘personality’ to, but those instructors, who were done away with after the first game added personality and flair to the game. They were proud when the player’s score was high, disappointed when it was sad, and angry when the player made foolish mistakes. It might just be my own personal preference, but I do believe they added an element into a flight sim that simply will not be found anywhere else. With the addition of the 3DS’s new online capabilities, some way of sharing best times or even flying with friends would have been a simple, yet effective way to prolong the life of the game. While it has a decent amount of re-playability, Pilotwings Resort, unfortunately, will not last forever.
Overall, for brand new 3DS owners, Pilotwings Resort is the perfect game to not only demonstrate the capabilities of the 3D features, but also a perfect introduction game to ease the player’s way into the 3D gaming realm. Without being high stress, games like this are few and far between. Offering seven vehicles, 42 missions, and hundreds of collectibles during Free Flight mode, there is enough content in this game, despite its multi-player drawbacks, to make Pilotwings Resort a solid game to own.
+3D is gorgeous
+Lots of objectives
-Soundtrack is okay at best
-No multi-player functionality
-Re-playability is low after game completion
~Free Flight Mode is Objective oriented
Overall Rating: 7.5/10