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Score: 7.0 / 10
Itís always an exciting moment in gaming
history when Nintendo releases a new system, be it a home console or
handheld device. This year, gamers are treated to the latter with
Nintendoís new 3DS system, which offers a revolutionary 3D effect
without the need for glasses.
Naturally, such a highly anticipated system should open up with a killer
launch title featuring one of the Big Nís most respected franchises.
Instead, the company opted to give the honor to Pilotwings, which has a
respectable cult audience but nowhere near the amount of followers that
Mario, Link, or Pikachu tend to bring out in droves.
While the lack of such a title at launch tends to bring back
uncomfortable memories of the Nintendo Gamecube, one needs to remember
that Pilotwings has served as a
launch title not once but twice before in
Nintendoís lifetime, with the seriesí last stint being served on the
Nintendo 64. After over a decade of dormancy, does the cartoony flight
simulator have enough gas to help propel Nintendoís 3D handheld to new
In this third installment, Nintendo has done away with the seriesí
quirky yet forgettable cast of pilots, and instead lets gamers use their
custom Mii characters to take part in the
aviation adventures. You and your virtual avatar have applied for a
pilot license in Wuhu Island, and are immediately tested to fully
utilize the three types of primary aircraft: planes, rocket belts, and
hand gliders. You start off in the Training League, and will soon
graduate to Bronze after getting accustomed to each vehicle. From there,
itís all a matter of how high you can soar (and score) for those big
points in order to advance to Silver, Gold, and eventually Platinum.
Each mission features a straightforward goal, which mostly comes down to
collecting enough points (via floating rings, balloons, or whatever
else) before crossing the finish line. The methods to scoring differ
with each vehicle in a variety of fun and clever ways: one mission while
piloting the plane has you shooting balloons behind a speeding car,
while another has you drift down inside an active volcano while wearing
the rocket belt. The real highlight is the seldom-used ďFlying Squirrel
SuitĒ that basically mixes sky-diving with gliding.
Each of the vehicles control differently, but are all easy to learn; the
plane can pivot left and right, and can even do barrel rolls (and
without the aid of an anthropomorphic rabbit, to boot); the rocket belt
can let players hover idly in the air or set its thrusters vertically,
Rocketeer style; Lastly, the hand glider relies on the small pockets of
wind to maintain high altitudes. Unlike other flight simulators,
Pilotwings takes the casual approach to its controls and allows for
smooth sailing across the skies.
The real challenge is mastering each
course, which can be deceptively difficult; every action taken by
players, from the speed in which they collect points to the smoothness
of their landing, has an effect on the overall score, which is
summarized by how many stars (out of three) you can obtain. While a
perfect score in each mission isnít necessary to advance in the tier
leagues, it can and will drive completionists up the wall for hours on
end. In that respect, Pilotwings Resort is a bit like Yoshiís Story on
the N64; you can reach the end in under 2 hours, but will have to invest
much more time in order to unlock every bonus vehicle, mission, and even
the ďrealĒ credits.
In another respect, itís also like Wii Sports, a launch game that also
had the primary goal of showing off the technological capabilities of
its new system. For the 3DS, the use of Miis is second only to the 3D
visuals, which is showcased in full force. In theory, the technology
works, with the Miiís little aircraft seemingly popping in front of your
eyes along with other objects scaling toward you. The problem, at least
as far as this reviewer is concerned, is that the 3D is cranked up a bit
too high, causing a case of double-vision for the Mii and other objects.
Thus, itís recommended that the 3D slider be turned down to below
half-level, although again this may be entirely dependent on the
individual playing. Of course, thereís always the option to turn off the
3D completely, but in the case of Pilotwings, the textures actually look
more washed out and jaggy when in 2D, and since the framerate is exactly
the same on both settings, itís overall more recommended to leave the 3D
slider turned up, even if just slightly.
Ultimately, thereís not much else to tell with Pilotwings Resort. For
folks looking for a quick and casual experience, this game fits the
bill, but for early adopters hoping for a meatier experience to go with
their big system purchase, they may be disappointed. In either case,
Nintendo would have done the game a bigger service had they chosen to
pack it along with the 3DS as a free tech demo like they did Wii Sports.
While itís ultimately a longer experience than the Wiiís launch game,
itís still just a small appetizer to the bigger dishes to be served down