On A Pilotwing and A Prayer
For every Mario, Zelda, Kirby, and Donkey Kong game that gets released, a Nintendo franchise is seemingly forgotten. Just this generation alone we've missed out on F-Zero, Wave Race, and for two gens now, Pilotwings. These aforementioned franchises aren't returned to as often as Mario or Zelda, but when they are, it's an event. In 1991 the original Pilotwings launched on the Super Nintendo utilizing the special Mode 7 tech which allowed for full three-dimensional gameplay. The following console, the Nintendo 64, would launch closely with Pilotwings 64, which some consider the best in the series. Nearly fifteen years later and no sight of Pilotwings to be found, Nintendo has opted to bring the franchise back from retirement with Pilotwings Resort for the Nintendo 3DS. Will you like flying the friendly skies?
As you boot up the game, a secretary will ask you to select a Mii to use as your player character. She will also ask you to sign your name on your membership card so you can opt to try out the controls on the numerous vehicles Pilotwings Resort possesses. After getting acquainted with the controls of each vehicle, you enter some tutorial missions which have you flying through rings for points-- to get your situated and comfortable before the real challenges begin. Once the tutorials are completed, you're a full-fledged member of Pilotwings. There's six groups of challenges in all, and each group gets more progressively difficult than the last as one would expect.
There's a wide variety of challenges to partake in. While the tutorial missions don't require you to carefully land your vehicle, bronze, silver, gold, platinum, and the unlockable diamond (which is earned by gaining three stars on all missions in all challenge brackets) do. Each challenge has a perfect score time which means if for every second you pass the set time for completion, the more points gets deducted from your total score. Nicking walls will net you a penalty of two points deducted from your score while flat out crashing will not only cost you some valuable time, but it will additionally make you lose five points. This is unlike past games where crashing would automatically disqualify you from the event. This makes the game more accessible to casual players without isolating more hardcore types.
Missions are scored in various categories. There's time, rings, speed panels (where you must fly through them at or above the specified speed to be awarded points), accuracy (or how close to the center of the landing zone you rest at), impact (or how cleanly you land), and too many others to mention. In order to proceed in Pilotwings Resort to other classes, you must score as many stars as possible. Each mission comes with a plethora of tips and advice to assist the player in aiming for a high score. One can earn up to three gold stars, or if they're masochistic, they can opt to try to get a perfect score and earn up to three red-outlined gold stars. This allows for a higher score than originally possible. Seeing as the game can be breezed through in a few afternoons, if continually aiming for high scores isn't your cup of tea, then perhaps Pilotwings Resort isn't the game for you.
There's six main vehicles in Pilotwings Resort: the plane which can perform barrel rolls and other tricks, the rocket belt which can thrust its way through Wuhu Island, the locale of the game, and land on fuel platforms, the hang glider which must catch wind thermals in order to increase altitude and speed, the mach jet which is a much faster version of the plane, the super rocket belt which is a quicker, more unwieldy and harder to control beast, and the pedal glider which by tapping a button pedals the glider. Just watch your stamina gauge! Each vehicle approaches the landing zone in a different way. For instance the rocket belt must use its slower thrusters to halt its movement enough to lightly touch down on the target platform, usually raised above the land or sea.
As stated previously there's a myriad of missions and challenges to try out. Some have you flying through a series of rings and/or shooting at the center of targets for maximum points while with rocket belt you'll be either flying through rings, landing on multiple fuel platforms, pushing balloons into a marked zone, or gathering a group of U.F.O.s to their mothership. You can also put out campfires, zoom through a narrow patch of mines and trees, follow a stunt plane all the while mimicking the stunts said plane pulls off, and take photos of various landmarks (size and depth matter).
When you're not participating in Mission Flight mode, you can opt to check out Free Flight mode. This mode allows you to select a vehicle and fly around Wuhu Island, collecting balloons (collect twenty to increase the amount of time allowed to fly, and seeing as there's 120 balloons to collect, that means you can increase the amount of time to upwards of five minutes per flight), with the plane you can fly through stunt rings, with the rocket belt there's hidden Mii trophies to gather, and with the hang glider there's gold rings to pass through the center of. There's sixty of each of these, and some only appear during daytime, evening, or nighttime. You unlock different times of day by collecting location medals which appear above seventy-five unique destinations all around Wuhu Island. Getting twenty, forty, and sixty stunt rings, Mii trophies, and gold rings unlock 3D dioramas to view under the Diorama menu of the main screen. This mode is quite fun, and exploring Wuhu Island for hidden goodies is a great way to pass the time in short bursts. It's quite enthralling to say the least. You can take photos in the hang glider at different times of the day, save them to an SD card, and view them in the photo application on the Nintendo 3DS home menu.
Pilotwings Resort is a bright, crisp, and colorful game. The game is bestowed with some of the most impressive early 3D on the Nintendo 3DS. Having the 3D slider turned up all the way allows the player to determine how far away objects and obstacles are much more easily. The draw distance is pretty spectacular as well. Not all is perfect, however. There is some pop-up from distant background objects and islands. The score of the game is quite catchy. There's numerous themes to bop your head to, tap your toes to, or hum along with. They can get infectious even. These themes are augmented even more by the 3DS's impressive speaker system.
Overall, Pilotwings Resort is a game whose value depends upon how much of a high score buff you really are. Most gamers will probably not be enough of perfectionists to aim for perfect scores as one must run flawless runs on every mission in the game which is no simple task. Just earning three stars on all tasks is challenging enough and will give plenty of players multiple attempts just to get them right. That notwithstanding Pilotwings Resort is the best of the bunch for those looking for a proper launch title to pick up with their newly-purchased Nintendo 3DS. It might not be an eighty hour epic, but it's a majestic little game full of Easter eggs and surprises.
[SuperPhillip Says: 7.5/10]