Ever since a pigeon first pooped on a caveman’s shoulder mankind has been determined to fly. Nature on the other hand has always fought against the idea and very few human babies are born with wings as a result. Those that are usually don’t survive the wing removal process or end up being sold to a travelling freak show. With absolutely no help from the heavens we have had to build aeroplanes and helicopters to get us into the air, they do the job but you must admit that we still have a long way to go if we want to be anywhere near as graceful as a bird in the sky.
Despite the surge in budget airlines, air travel is still very expensive for the average Joe to enjoy every day. Aircraft themselves are even more pricey to buy, maintain and fly – very few of us will ever own our own airplane. In the 80’s a few computer geeks got together and decided to create flight simulators for their home computers, these were very basic and quite primitive, but at the time nothing like it had been done before. Since then Flight Sims such as Microsoft Flight Simulator have gone on to sell bazillions of copies worldwide. Nintendo caught wind of the popularity of these games and decided to make them fun, for gamers. In 1990 the original Pilotwings hit the Super Nintendo and gave gamers a fun insight into the physics of flying, albeit in a light hearted fashion.
The game is set on Wuhu Island, a tranquil and tropical location that is the perfect place to get your flying fix. Not only does the island resort have brilliant weather all year round but there are several magnificent hotels, and its very own golf course. You may have already visited Wuhu Island in some previous Nintendo games; namely Wii Fit and Wii Sports Resort. Just so you know, there’s no flying planes full of British holidaymakers to Spain here in Pilotwings Resort. After your initial training you are awarded a basic flying license from Wuhu Sky Club, this allows you to head into the novice trials with the three main aircraft (Hang Glider, Plane and Rocket Belt). There are 6 challenges in the Novice category, two for each vehicle – completing them all with at least two gold stars (out of three) unlocks the next set of trials.
There are just under forty total challenges and if like me you enjoy flying through rings, popping balloons, landing at sea and riding thermals then you’ll have a lot of fun here. As you can imagine, things are quite easy at the start. Simply being tasked to fly around for a little while and then land on a target is child’s play. But as you progress through the difficulty levels you are given more complex things to do. How do you think you’d fare having to take a perfect 3D photo of a lighthouse as you drift along on your hang glider with momentum as your only propulsion? What about if it was against the clock and that every aspect of your flight will be judged? Not so easy now huh?
About that judging criteria; after you complete each stage your performance is scored on a number of things such as; Speed, Accuracy and Impact. Other bonuses such as collecting point pills, popping guide balloons and not hitting the scenery can all make a difference to your final score/grade. Getting a full three red stars (yes red is better than gold) requires flights with no errors or delays of any kind. Very tricky.
- The Hang Glider is an unpowered aircraft, to build up speed you need to dive towards the ground which in turn loses height. Warm air currents called thermals will raise you back up but these are only in a few locations around the island. Landing a Hang Glider is difficult and will take time to master.
- The Plane is the easiest of the aircraft and the most versatile. You can perform a speed boost with the A button, fire a pellet gun at targets, perform barrel rolls as well as loop de loops. Landing on the sea is unusual at first but you’ll soon find this the easiest of the lot.
- The Rocket Belt (or Jet Pack to you and me) is probably the most fun to use but harder than you’d imagine. It’s very fast and can only be directed in certain directions, up, forwards or in between – meaning you’ll constantly need to adjust your trajectory with the analogue stick to keep moving in the right way. Landing is tricky and if you want to get top marks, you’ll need to use the hover brake and the camera control.
If you get tired of doing missions why not jump into Free Flight mode? Your relaxing trip around Wuhu Island can be during the day, in the evening or at night. Hey you can even learn more about the place by flying through Tourist Information points scattered around the place. By default there is one restriction; a two minute time limit – if you want more time to explore then you will have to hunt around collecting some goodies. As you visit more locations, fly through stunt rings and and pop balloons you’ll get rewards like an extra thirty seconds being added to the clock for your next trip.
Pilotwings Resort is a terribly fun game and is possibly my favourite Nintendo 3DS game so far, the graphics are gorgeous in normal 2D and look just as good (maybe better) as Wii Sports Resort – when you’re ready to slide up the 3D to full then be prepared for some of the best illusions of depth that you’ve ever seen outside of the real world. Gliding around close to trees, buildings and the like really does feel realer than ever before – for a moment I thought I could actually feel the G-Force as I applied the air brake whilst in the plane. Fans of the original Pilotwings games will already know of its infamous jazzy lift music soundtrack; now I’m no fan of Jazz but for some reason the electronic Pilotwings groove has always got me where it matters. During the missions you can chill to a more low beat relaxing theme but I can’t resist flying very close to the shoreline to hear the sounds of the coastline.
Despite the lack of offline or online multiplayer and only a small selection of bonus aircraft to unlock I really do still recommend Pilotwings Resort as an essential purchase for the 3DS. Replay value is limited past its initial 10-12 hours of play but right now you won’t find a more relaxing and technically title from the Nintendo 3DS list of games currently available. Pilotwings for 3DS is a flying sim for real people, not nerds – you’ll love it, I promise. It gets a fly-away 9 out of 10.
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Related: Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo 3DS list of games