A glance at my save file on Pilotwings Resort, the strange 3DS launch title that acts as a sequel to Pilotwings 64 and quasi-sequel to Wii Sports Resort, reveals that I’ve spent a majority of my game time playing Free Flight Mode. Free Flight Mode is actually ripped directly out of Wii Sports Resort in which the goal is to slowly explore all of Wuhu Island in an attempt to gather information on the island and find hidden items. At first I had zero interest heading into Free Flight mode as I felt I had my fill of Wuhu by the hours I’ve spent playing Air Sports in Wii Sports Resort, but upon playing I once again became addicted to what is essentially a cheap filler mode in order to pad the game.
Here I am, spending a solid chunk of time on my brand spanking new (and over priced) 250 dollar 3DS unit playing something I played before roughly two years ago. I don’t regret this at all, because I was having fun doing this. To me, it’s a testament to the mechanics of Pilotwings Resort, a series that has always struck a good balance between simulation and arcade control. Sure, I’ve played this all before, but not with Pilotwings pitch perfect hang glider, rocket belt and plane control. The 3DS’ slide pad feels great, and the range of subtle motion may even put the traditional analog stick to shame. I almost kind of found myself wanting something like this for console games. Maybe I’m just having some kind of honeymoon with the slide pad and my feelings on it will level out with time, but as of now I’m kind of loving it.
The core game itself is made up of a bunch of bit sized missions (roughly 3 minutes long each) where the player earns stars to progress. All of these missions could probably be seen in less than 2 hours depending on the skill of the player. The real challenge lies in getting three stars on all of the missions in order to unlock the final set of hidden missions. Dedicated players that come to adore the game can then attempt to get a perfect score on every mission (something I personally don’t have in me) which I imagine will lead to other rewards. I spent a healthy amount of time, roughly 10 hours total, going through all of Mission Mode and Free Flight. Not too bad for a game being billed as a three hour experience (though admittedly, Free Flight did get tiresome when I was down to the final few objects to find). If Pilotwings clicks with the player, they’ll be in it for the long haul, but if the player is only interested in blowing through mission mode, they’ll obviously feel somewhat cheated by what the game offers.
Being that this is my first and only 3DS game, my initial reaction to the 3D effect was that while I found it kind of neat I would never play with it turned on. I had a headache after a few minutes the first night I had the 3DS and thought that would be the extent of my time with 3D turned on. After all, when I saw Avatar in 3D I had a pounding headache by the end and found myself having a hard time even seeing the 3D in most cases. Regardless, I decided to toggle the 3D on from time to time and I’ve now come around to it. I like playing Pilotwings in 3D, and while some of the claims that 3D changes the game in that players can better judge their distance is kind of bull crap, it sure does look fancy. The actual 3D effect has some issues as far as finding the sweet spot, but that’s an issue inherent in the 3DS itself.
As a launch game Pilotwings makes a fine product, though unlike the N64 days this isn’t the only choice other than Super Mario 64. I guess depending on your perspective of the 3DS launch it is either the only choice, or eclipsed by other offerings like Super Street Fighter IV. It lacks the length, variation of modes and air craft of Pilotwings 64 (at least, from what I remember) but it makes up for that with the most sound control and flight mechanics in the series. Also, it’s just such a nice relaxing game to tune out too.
Would I buy a 3DS just play Pilotwings? No (though I guess you could say that I did personally do that… oops), but if you already own a 3DS or plan on getting one anyway, you could do much worse.