Nintendo’s 3DS is all set to arrive in the UK and with no Mario or Zelda to greet it, this responsibility falls to another great Nintendo franchise, Pilotwings. The last time we saw a Pilotwings game was on the Nintendo 64, and it certainly provided a relaxing and addictive experience which was far different from the exploits of a certain Italian plumber.
There is certainly a lot to love about Pilotwings Resort, thanks to it capturing what was great about the original. Throughout the game you take control of Aircraft, a Rocket Belt and also a Hand Glider as you work your way through around 40 missions. When you begin the games main Mission Mode, you are given a license and eased gently in thanks to the six unlockable difficulties which are on offer. You begin in the fairly simple Novice mode which sees you perform tasks such as flying your aircraft through rings, popping balloons with your rocket belt and learning to land using your glider. It’s all fairly easy to begin with really but that’s the point.
As you complete missions you are given a rating based on a set score, the higher you score the more stars you will achieve (out of three), and if you manage a perfect run then you will be able to score even higher should you attempt the mission again. The whole point of the star system is to unlock the higher difficulty levels, therefore although this may be fairly straightforward to being with, as the levels get more difficult it will take all your concentration in order to move forward in the game.
Once you have mastered the Novice level you will then find yourself taking on the Bronze level, this will see you introduced to a few other tricks the game has up its sleeve, such as the target practice which has you fire your gun at various targets while on the move. Things don’t really get tricky until the Silver difficulty level which ups the ante, asking you to achieve 27 gold stars before you can move on. Here you are not only introduced to a new jet aircraft which moves faster and is more difficult to manoeuvre, but the missions also up the stakes, for example, in one such mission you have to chase a car through a valley in order to burst spawning balloons.
As you move on to the even harder levels the difficulty only intensifies, although you given you only need a certain amount of stars to unlock each level you will find yourself getting to the end of the game fairly quickly.
The thing I like most about Pilotwings Resort is that the controls are very easy to get used to. This really is one of those pick up and play games, most of the time all you will find yourself doing is using the A button to accelerate and the B to brake. Steering and ascent/descent is controlled by the analogue stick and occasionally you may find yourself using the fire button to shoot at targets or the right shoulder button to take photos. Although the controls are simple, once you build in confidence you can use this to your advantage, allowing you to pull off various stunts such as fast descents under tunnels and daring swoops through bridges.
As you complete each difficulty level you will unlock new features for the games Free Flight mode. This mode basically allows you to explore the island and go on an item collecting frenzy, these items change depending on the time of day, so you will probably spend a good few hours looking around if you want to collect everything.
Given this is the Nintendo 3DS we are talking about, there is an element of 3D to the game, moving the 3D slider right up gives you a great sense of depth and really brings the environment alive, although this setting may not be for everyone. Personally I placed the slider about halfway down, giving me a happy medium and still allowing for a sense of depth.
As far as presentation goes Pilotwings Resort is a very decent looking title, it has all of the polish you will have come to expect from Nintendo, while still retaining that sense of charm which all Nintendo titles seem to have. Another bonus to Pilotwings is that you can use your Mii within the game; therefore this can have some quite fun effects should you go a bit overboard on the design.
Pilotwings isn’t a huge game, therefore you will probably find that you manage to unlock all of the difficulty modes fairly quickly, however there is the option to try for a higher score, and there are also plenty of items to find in the freeplay mode, which means you will find yourself going back for more. There are some disappointing aspects such as the lack of any multiplayer, and the fact you can complete the game quite quickly, however on balance the good points far outweigh the bad.
As a launch game Pilotwings is a great way to show off your system, the 3D effects are fantastic and the gameplay is very addictive. This sequel has certainly been a long time coming, and while it could have been more substantial, it’s still been well worth the wait.
Overall Rating: Good.