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First Impressions: PilotWings Resort

Posted by Jon Wahlgren

PilotWings returns after a billion years

Another long-abandoned fan-favorite series, PilotWings debuted on SNES but hasn't seen the flight of day since the N64 launched way back in the mid-90's with the lovely PilotWings 64. But despite the series' rarity, the third installment, PilotWings Resort, which we were able to go hands-on with in Amsterdam and New York City last week, zips over familiar territory for those who have spent time on Wuhu Island in Wii Sports Resort.

Because, you see, that's the island you fly over and around all stereoscopic-like. Cracked the name, we have!

We took note of a few modes and features when poking around the main menu screen: there are both Mission and Free Flight modes, a Member Card that acts as a sort of stat-tracker (time played, points, your attached Mii and the like), as well as something called Dioramas. This menu item was blanked out, but we presume there will be dioramas of some sort.

Our demo for PilotWings Resort included multiple mission types using three different flight mechanisms: a plane, a glider and a rocket belt (essentially a jetpack). A nice little touch played out behind the mission select screens: when selecting a mission but before confirming your choice, the camera actually flies through the course to show your flight path. Neat.

What was on display was fairly pedestrian in complication: fly through some rings here, pop some balloons there, land with your rocket belt over yonder. Each craft controlled quite well with the Circle Pad, with the odd button for things like controlling direction and power of the rocket belt's thrusters. It was quite relaxing actually, but then again these were fairly stress-free demonstration missions.

If you do fancy a bit of mellow time then the worry-destroying Free Flight mode is where you'll want to point yourself. It's quite neat to soar around Wuhu Island and soak in the sights, and the use of subtle 3D is more than enough to draw you in to the texture of the land. The simplicity, colorful and playful nature of the visual style lends itself very well to the third dimension.

One of the benefits of 3D Nintendo touted upon the system's first proper reveal is the ability to better judge depth and distance, and PilotWings is an excellent example of that. The added depth helped our rocket belt plight to pop balloons, and while it's certainly doable with a 2D screen (like we've been doing for years) we'd certainly rather have the stereoscopic option than not.

PilotWings Resort's art style is lifted straight out of Wii Sports, for better or worse. It's certainly not an ugly, or even thematically inappropriate, approach, but visually the game looks like an off-shoot of the MotionPlus flagship title more than a proper continuation of a cult series. It does no favors to lend the PilotWings series its own identity, and while one might struggle to pinpoint exactly what an explicitly PilotWings game is supposed to look like, Resort fails to carve out its own niche. Then again, propelling the series into wider acclaim is likely the entire point of transplanting the familiar look.

Those who have held their breath for a new PilotWings game likely turned blue around 1998, but hopefully PilotWings Resort has what it takes to resuscitate the love that fans have for the series while drawing in new blood with its pleasing gameplay and innocuous aesthetics. We'll find out once the game is eventually released sometime in the 3DS's launch window.

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User Comments (33)

MrMagpie

#2

MrMagpie said:

This and steel diver still look like tech demos to me...I wouldn't mind if one came bundled with the 3DS (any indications if this is happening with anything?), but as standalone games they seem a bit like they might lack content. Lets face it, Wuhu Island isn't that big......

James

#3

James said:

@MrMagpie Nintendo's not giving away any software other than Face Raiders and the AR games, but you can bet retailers will be offering their own bundles, so you'll likely be able to get this cheaper with your machine.

CorbsAdmin

#4

Corbs said:

I loved this one at E3. Probably the most surprising 3DS game I played. I wasn't a huge fan of the original SNES release, but this game is a perfect example of how 3D can really add a whole new element to the game. :D

Rob_mc_1

#5

Rob_mc_1 said:

It is nice to see an update. For sky diving is pulling the shoot still optional. I know for the SNES you could plummet.

JimLad

#6

JimLad said:

Nice sunset there, I hope the jumble hoppers and birdman make it in.

HipsterDashie

#7

HipsterDashie said:

I had heard from other sites that people trying this game found it hard to keep the 3D aspect in focus, occasionally seeing double, despite not having such a problem with other 3D games. How did you guys find it?

CorbsAdmin

#8

Corbs said:

I don't remember seeing double. Seemed very deep and immersive to me. But I only had about 10 minutes on it, so I'd really need more time to see if eye fatigue made me start seeing the images separately. :D

NintyMan

#9

NintyMan said:

This will be my first 3DS game. I liked flying around Wuhu Island in Wii Sports Resort and this will expand it more than ever before. And I'll see Wuhu Island in 3D too! It'll also look better than ever before. I can't wait to see some fist impressions of Kid Icarus: Uprising!

Bass_X0

#10

Bass_X0 said:

I may buy it. Although I understand the concerns, I don't mind Wuhu being the location for the game. Its as good enough as any. Besides, if the Resort suffix, art style and location makes the game sell more to those unfamilar with the Pilotwings name then thats surely a good thing.

warioswoods

#12

warioswoods said:

I may be looking forward to this more than any other launch title, but there are a few things I hope they include:

  • flight instructors with personalities
  • different seasonal settings for Wuhu, which could bring needed variety
  • a good difficulty curve with highly challenging later levels
  • some sort of additional missions akin to the helicopter bits in the original would be great to change things up; it need not be a war-zone like that, but something towards which you are training

Also SNES Pilotwings > N64. That is all.

Kid_A

#13

Kid_A said:

I'm really hoping this one makes launch. I had a strange infatuation with Island Flyover Wii Sports Resort so I'm really looking forward to this one :)

XyVoX

#14

XyVoX said:

I LOVE Pilotwings i maxxed out and completed both the N64 and SNES versions when they came out, it was the N64 version that truly taught me and 'heightened my skill therefore' all about an analogue stick, however this 3DS version does kinda sadden me as the Wii is ideally suited to this game, the Gamecube would of done an incredible version as well, but yet it makes its appearance on the small screen.

Spoony_Tech

#15

Spoony_Tech said:

I hope this one doesn't stray to far from the originals. Its not sounding like it will have the same level of difficulty the first two had. Needs lots of missions and good game play for it to pan out and be at least as good as the first two which I love.

RandomMan85

#16

RandomMan85 said:

According to GAME, when I wnet to choose the colour and pre-order some games, Pilotwings is a day one release title. Hope their sources are correct... Anyone else hear this?

SphericalCrusher

#17

SphericalCrusher said:

Game looks really fun. Definitely considering getting this as one of my first 3DS purchases. The nerd in me has always wanted to explore Wuhu Island since seeing it in Wii Fit and Wii Sports Resort... I've wanted a game that allows me to explore it.

TheBaconator

#18

TheBaconator said:

@RandomMan85 They say the same thing in Gamestop here in America.

But about the game, it is going to need more then Wuhu island and 3 flying machines to be counted as a guaranteed purchase, for me. I'm hoping the return of the hoppers, canon, and sky-diving and maybe they can add the Little States level into the game as well. Also, on Nintendo's website it says multiplayer in the game is TBD so I'm hoping they add some multiplayer features in the game as well. Last, they better not put a time limit on Free Flight mode.

BulbasaurusRex

#21

BulbasaurusRex said:

Without any enemies to shoot down before they shoot me down, I don't see any reason to get a flight simulator like this.

OldBoy

#22

OldBoy said:

This is looking great.Really enjoyed the flying in WSR.
I like @warioswoods ideas for the game and hope these are implemeted.As long as there are more difficult missions later on I reckon this will be the game I get with my 3DS.

Riskia

#23

Riskia said:

Pilot Wings N64 was so much fun! I hope they don't ruin it. The game so far looks promising

triforceofcourage

#24

triforceofcourage said:

sounds fun, but will there be any places other than Wuhu island? not that theres anything wrong with that. But 1 place seems a bit limited.

Slapshot

#25

Slapshot said:

Bringing one of my favorite Nintendo franchises to 3DS makes me very happy, now another Waverace and 1080 will make my Decade! ;)

LEGEND_MARIOID

#26

LEGEND_MARIOID said:

On the fence with this one. What were the buttons you used? The forum posts and on-line demo footage indicate no gyroscopic tilt control. Only analogue pad and R and L buttons

I loved Island flyover in Wii sports resort, but not sure about controlling this using analogue pad and buttons. I'm tempted though.

Capt_N

#30

Capt_N said:

If I get a 3DS, this will be one of my first games for the system.

Edit: I hope Nintendo gets it right.

Punny

#31

Punny said:

This game looks very relaxing. This will probably be the the first 3DS game I purchase.

StarDust4Ever

#32

StarDust4Ever said:

I can't make up my mind between PilotWings, an air-craft simulator, or SteelDriver, a submarine simulator.

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