News Article

Feature: A Virtual Tour of Pilotwings 64

Posted by Martin Watts

Come fly with me

When it was released in 1996, Pilotwings 64 was praised for its incredible visuals and vast, open landscapes. Even now, the attention to detail is astonishing — as we pointed out in our recent Pilotwings 64 review so much so that we felt compelled to explore it. To save you the effort of having to dust off that old N64 and unlock all the pilot classes again, we've been on location for you, taking snapshots of all the best scenic moments that this classic game has to offer. Try to hold back the tears of nostalgia as you revisit some of your favourite virtual places.

Location: Little States Island

It goes without saying that Mario is the most recognisable video-game character in the world. For decades, the moustachioed mascot has entertained millions of gamers. So it's only fair that he be forever immortalised in his own mountainside sculpture, right?

Mario has made a habit out of making guest cameos in games, although none are quite as extravagant as this appearance on Mount Rushmore. While we can't say with certainty that Mario has been a more important influence on the modern world than George Washington, we're sure it's something that historians will be debating for years to come.

Location: Holiday Island

Holiday Island does a good job of living up to its name. There's a beach, a castle and plenty of sun to help top up that tan. But the real attraction is its fun fair, which comes complete with carousel and big wheel. It's a little disappointing that there isn't a rollercoaster ride or dodgems, but it's better than nothing. You are, after all, on an island in the middle of nowhere.

The colourful rides and stalls really catch your eye, adding the colour and vibrancy you'd expect from a holiday resort. The only downside is that you can't actually go on any of the rides. But hey, at least there isn't an admission fee.

Location: Ever-Frost Island

This next spot of scenery features in one of Pilotwings 64's most-daring stages, Chicken Dive. For this particular challenge, you must fly your hang glider down the mountain gorge through a series of rings and then land. It's an exhilarating experience as a result of the speed and how close you come to hitting the rocky wall that confronts you when you reach the bottom.

This particular section of Everfrost Island stands out because it's so massive, yet so detailed. The flowing water makes for a nice finishing touch to what essentially feels like an island in its own right.

Location: Little States Island

Wind power isn't anything new. In fact, windmills have been around since ancient times. Nevertheless, it's refreshing to see this delightful little wind farm make its way in Pilotwings 64.

Some people claim that these towering propellers are a blight on the countryside, but in Pilotwings 64 they're most certainly of visual interest. What they power exactly is anyone's guess. A nearby city? Little States Island's undisclosed Area 51 installation? Meca Hawk? Are these wind turbines actually the cause of so much wanton destruction? Now there's a worrying thought.

Regardless of their purpose, just be careful you don't fly too close to one of these — your poor pilot probably suffers enough as it is without being lopped in half, too.

Location: Little States Island

What better a beacon for freedom and independence than the Statue of Liberty? Even in Little States Island's considerably scaled-down rendition of New York, the good lady Libertas stands tall and proud. Her trademark torch burns brightly, gloriously welcoming immigrants to the land of the free — well, that's if Pilotwings 64 actually had any people in it.

The detailing on this particular model is impressive. Given that most of the textures in the game are stretched out across vast areas, it's incredible how the designers were able to capture all the intricate features of this iconic American monument.

Location: Ever-Frost Island

We can't help but think that Pilotwings 64's Ever-Frost Island is making a subtle jab at the USA's obsession with oil. Not only is the frosty map covered in oil rigs, but there's also a pretty sizeable American oil refinery planted on one of its coasts. Is it a strange coincidence that this just so happens to be near where Meca Hawk also makes an appearance? Just what is the US government up to?

Conspiracy theories aside, the main attraction of this installation, oddly enough, is the gas flare that sits at the top of it; players can exact revenge on their poor, helpless pilots for failing other tasks by flying them right through it. The end result is an excruciating scream and one crispy aviator.

Location: Crescent Island

You might think it odd that a flight simulator (even an amateur one) would feature underground sections. But this is Pilotwings 64, the game where Nintendo has hijacked Mount Rushmore for its own evil deeds and giant mechanised pilots throw rocks at you.

You come across this particular underground cavern in one of the last Rocket Belt stages. The journey there is a treacherous one, and navigating your pilot through the tight tunnels that lead to this subterranean paradise is akin to Lando Calrissian flying the Millennium Falcon into the second Death Star. Despite this, it's extremely worth it when you get there, as your eyes are greeted with an impressively detailed formation of stalactites and stalagmites.

Location: Little States Island

NASA may have retired the Space Shuttle in 2011, but that doesn't mean that you can't still enjoy seeing it launch at Cape Canaveral. The Space Shuttle appears in a couple of stages throughout the game, and the launch sequence is usually triggered when you get close to it. It's a novel, yet pretty cool addition that pays homage to one of America's greatest achievements. It's just a great shame that you can't pilot one of these wonderful vehicles yourself. It may have about as much to do with aviation as jumble hopping, but a mission to the Moon or Mars would be too epic to pass up on. Knowing our luck, it would probably all end in catastrophe anyway.

Location: Little States Island

If there's anyone who hates seeing Mario getting all the attention, it's Wario. Luckily for this devious miscreant, he too gets a cameo appearance on Little States Island. By firing a gyrocopter missile directly at Mario's nose, the portly plumber's cheery face is instantly transformed into Wario, sporting his trademark menacing look. It's a nice little Easter egg, even if it does contrast somewhat with Thomas Jefferson's rather serious gaze.

What are your favourite gaming locations? Let us know in the comments section below!

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User Comments (28)



Squashie said:

I was never overstruck by this game, nor was I with the original Pilotwings. I think I only started enjoying the series when it advanced with Pilotwings Resort (yes, that game was brilliant).



biglee said:

Hi everyone! I just registered for Nintendo life and this is my first post. Pilot Wings 64 might very well be one of my favorite N64 games of all time and I have missed the series a lot. I really hope they come out with a brand new HD version for Wii U where you can use the gamepad screen and gyroscope as a first person view while flying! In the mean time I am considering Resort for 3DS. @ squashie, is it really worth getting?



Handy_Man said:

What a random article. XD

That doesn't mean it's bad, though. It's interesting how there are many different things that are hidden throughout the game, and I've never seen the Wario head in Pilotwings 64 before, so that was pretty cool to find out.



Philip_J_Reed said:

It's clearly marked as a feature, not news, and to imply that this article is filler is pretty disrespectful to the work Martin did on it.



SheldonRandoms said:

There should be a Nintendo version of Mount Rushmore in real life (Or better yet, Mount Rushmore should be a stage in the next smash bros, with Mario's face on it)



thesilverbrick said:

All this Pilotwings coverage as of late has convinced me to pick up the N64 cart. I must've been too enthralled with Mario 64 back in the day to even notice it...



MegaWatts said:

@Philip_J_Reed @Zach777 - Thanks Phil! I kid you not, I spent hours exploring the islands to find many of these great locations. Lining up the image was the hardest bit, as I had to make sure I wasn't moving whilst trying to take the shot with my screen capture device.

Zach777, it's really just a fun, off-beat piece, mainly because I think Pilotwings 64 is a technically impressive game for its time and it is certainly worthy of being looked back upon!



Zach777 said:


I clearly meant that as offensively as I could have, directly targeting his hard work and undermining his labor. Goodness, my friend, settle down.


It was a fun article, no doubt. I read the whole bit; good piece. Seeing as it was a comment section, I was simply commenting. Sorry to all those... Ahem, PJR... who took offense. Perhaps I'll edit my previous remark to show the light hearted-ness of how that comment should have been taken.



Morpheel said:

Zach777 wrote:

I clearly meant that as offensively as I could have, directly targeting his hard work and undermining his labor.

Well at least he is honest.
I'm not sure if you already edited it, but that's the feeling I got from it.



Zach777 said:


That's the problem with comment sections/texting/FB,Twitter,G+/etc... You read it how you read it, not how it was meant to come across. It was not meant to be disrespectful in any way.



unrandomsam said:

I think the N64 Virtual Console emulation has been poor on the wii. I hope it is better on the Wii U (And has more import titles or Gamecube versions most of the stuff I want on it is Jap only (Sometimes with a Gamecube version that got international but very limited release.)).



hYdeks said:

Ok peoples settle down, we all word things poopy at points I've had times when people take what I say wrong too, it doesn't take much to push peoples buttons sometimes

I personally like the article btw, you can tell @MegaWatts really enjoys this game. I never actually played this game ever before, like alot of people, Pilotwings Resort was my first Pilotwings I played. I think with the Mario 64, Star Fox 64 and all those games, this one kinda just slipped passed me. Maybe I should try it now? goes and checks ebay



datamonkey said:

I loved this game to bits. At the time it was the most relaxing game ever and I spent ages just exploring the landscapes.

I hope this is released on Wii U VC and that Nintendo are making a proper sequel to this with the original characters and numerous locations etc... The 3DS game felt like a rushed launch title and was criminal in the lack of gameplay offered.



Capt_N said:

I hope, that despite (the long-time now-defunct studio) Paradigm's involvement in this, that Nintendo brings this to Wii/WU VC(s). This was one of my favorite N64 titles. While I enjoy the SNes title on Wii VC, I never owned it when I was little, so it does not have that same, if any, level of nostalgia to me, as PW64 does. It does do a pretty good job of showing what the devs thought possible on the N64 in its early days, as this is, as I recall, an N64 launch, or launch window title. Plus, this was a title that a family member of mine started playing. He liked it a lot.

Edit: Good read, @MegaWatts! Thanks for the article, & nostalgia! I love these kinds of things from NLife!



SetupDisk said:

Favorite gaming locations? Most of the areas in monster hunter, I have seen them hundreds of times but they never get old. The area around the wizards city in Skyrim. The crystal caverns in Final fantasy 2 (NA). Rainbow Road. The monster theme level in Mad World. The haunted ship in Super Metroid. Lots of areas from the prime series. The deep ocean from Endless Ocean. That's what comes to mind off the top of my head.



stipey said:

Oh man, this really reminds me of how far Pilotwings Resort was from this. The exploration was so lacking in that one.



KongFu said:

Articles like this make NintendoLife as a website which is centered on nintendo culture so great. Keep up the good work. BTW: I miss the 64 days...



fairybats said:

I agree, this needs a VC release! The N64 did such a good job of showing what a new 3D world could be like.

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