Game: Pilotwings Resort
Developer: Monster Games/Nintendo
Release Date: March 27th, 2011
Genre: Flight Simulation
System: Nintendo 3DS
My Review of Pilotwings:
http://igjournal.blogspot.com/2011/01/p ... essfc.html
My Review of Pilotwings 64:
http://igjournal.blogspot.com/2011/02/p ... w-n64.html
There are only three Pilotwings games and this is my third review of a Pilotwings game. It is a shame that there have only been three titles in twenty years. Each one is a treat to play and should not be merely dismissed as a tech demo for the Nintendo system it launched with. Pilotwings Resort takes place on the same island as Wii Sports Resort, Wuhu Island. If you own Wii Sports Resort, the area will feel very familiar.
In the first Pilotwings the main character is you. There are four instructors, each with their own personalities, who give advice (and sometimes snide remarks) about flying and how to pass tests. In the N64 version there are six selectable characters and no instructors. The character you choose affects how your vehicles behave. In Pilotwings Resort, the main character is your Mii. So either you are the main character if your Mii resembles you, or the main character is whomever the Mii you use represents.
You have there different vehicles when you begin the game. An airplane which takes off and lands on water, a rocket belt, and lastly a hang glider. As you progress through the game you can unlock better versions of each of these vehicles. The airplane becomes a jet plane, the rocket belt becomes an even more powerful rocket belt, and the hang glider becomes a pedal-powered glider. These upgrades are just that, upgrades. They are not uniquely new vehicles. With the exception of the flying squirrel suit (you'll see), this is it. I was disappointed with this aspect of the game. Even the first Pilotwings had more uniquely different vehicles, and Pilotwings 64 had even more than that. Surely Nintendo could have cooked up more was to fly, but perhaps this game was rushed. It surely feels like a rushed game.
There are two different modes. Mission mode and Free Flight mode. The Mission Mode plays like the previous Pilotwings games in which there are set objectives in which you have to beat a set score in order to advance. The objectives include things we've seen before like flying through rings, touching balloons, target shootings, landing accurately, etc. There are also new mission objectives added like chasing vehicles, stunts, timed landings, etc. You are rated with up to three stars based on your score. The object is to earn at least three stars for each mission. You can
The next mode is the Free Flight mode. In the Free Flight mode you choose a vehicle with which you want to explore Wuhu Island. After selecting a vehicle you are given two minutes to fly freely around the island and its surroundings. While flying you must collect a variety of things from Mii Trophies to flying through Stunt Rings. Each vehicle has a specific objective in the free flight mode. The more balloons, rings, etc you collect, the more things you unlock. This flight time can be extended up to five minutes if you collect all of the balloons. The Free Flight mode is a fun addition to the series we haven't seen before and it adds value to a mode that would have been just fine without any objectives. Exploring Wuhu Island is fun all by itself. As you progress through the Free Flight mode you can unlock dioramas that look great on the 3D screen. This is the first time I've seen something on the 3DS actually look like it's coming out of the screen. There are also other unlockables, but I wouldn't want to spoil it for those who want to play the game, but haven't.
This game seems a lot more sanitary than the previous games. In the first Pilotwings it seems the pilots are severely injured (or possibly even die) when you crash. In Pilotwings 64 your character screams in pain upon crashing. In Pilotwings Resort, you simply bounce lightly off of the ground or you simply eject and parachute out of your aircraft. Boring, I know. Speaking of parachutes, that is another thing missing from previous games: skydiving. Skydiving was fun in the previous games and it would have been nice if it was included in this one. Skydiving is present in Wii Sports Resort, so I doubt it would have been difficult to add it into this game. This could have helped the lack of variety of vehicles mentioned earlier.
While everybody's 3D experience is different, I realized that it is much easier to play 3D games in 1st person mode. While in 3rd person mode it is difficult to focus on your character/vehicle and the background simultaneously. This could just be my bad eyes, but whenever I am in 3rd person view I have to adjust the 3D slider to about half. Only the airplane/jet have the option for 1st person view. You can have a 1st person view in some of the hang glider missions, but this would require you to hold the R shoulder button. Still, the game looks great on its upper-screen 3D display. The bottom touch screen is mostly just used as a map and there really isn't much interaction with it other than to zoom in and out of the map.
The game's graphics are Wii-esque and they are really great looking for a handheld machine. There were no instances of graphical glitches that I noticed. The three different times of day all look great, but the dusk probably looks the most beautiful. The music is nothing special, not nearly as great as the original Pilotwings which had a great soundtrack. Still, the music is peaceful and goes along great with a game which tries to create the freedom of flight...even if you are tied to objectives.
Just like the previous Pilotwings games, this game has a great sense of flight. There is a bit lost since you're playing on a hand held, but that sense of freedom that the other Pilotwings games offer is intact with this one. This game offers a great challenge. While there is only one "area" to explore, Wuhu Island and its surrounding area offer a large world to venture into. From caverns to forests, ancient ruins to a small town, Pilotwings Resort really doesn't feel small at all. A few nice easter eggs. One great one is if you fly over the cabins in the camping area at night, you can hear somebody playing Super Mario Bros. Lastly, there are a couple of musical odes to the previous Pilotwings games if you listen carefully.
The game is very short. Even if you want to collect every item and achieve a "more than perfect" score. You could complete this game in well under 10 hours. This is a personal preference, but I would have liked it better if there were selectable characters like in the N64 installment. Using your Mii is cute, but having a selectable characters offered depth because each character in the N64 game had different attributes that affected your flight vehicles. One last complaint is the lack of vehicles. While technically there are six, the unlocked vehicles are just modified versions of the vehicles with which you begin the game. I praised the size or the area to explore, but something entirely new would have been better. In the end, the game is just an expansion of Wii Sports Resort's Air Sports.
The verdict: 6.5/10
This installment of Pilotwings is the most difficult, but also the most shallow. There is plenty of replay value for completionists and perfectionists. The free flight mode will have you looking for that one last ring or balloon, and the mission mode will keep you on edge until you have attained all red stars for all missions. As mentioned earlier, Pilotwings Resort is an expanded version of Air Sports from Wii Sports Resort. (Read: rushed) Don't let this deter you, I still recommend the game if you're a fan of the first two, but don't expect any innovations in the actual meat of the game. This latest entry to the series, like the ones before it, serves its purpose to showcase the capabilities of the latest Nintendo hardware, and it does it lazily but not boringly.The two previous Pilotwings games are better, but that doesn't mean this one is bad. It's fairly decent, which is a shame because Pilotwings games are better than that.
No back-ups, pirates, or emulation. My copy: