Pilotwings Resort is, in many ways, a nostalgia trip. The series saw installments on SNES and N64, but hasn’t been seen in fifteen years. That said, this isn’t Kid Icarus. We think people can generally understand the appeal of a game that lets you strap on a rocket belt and fly around places.
Oh, and glide around on a glider, and fly a plane. Those are the three things you do.
For the uninitiated (and with the 15-year hiatus, we’re sure that’s many of you), the game issues various challenges that you take on in these aircraft, and it grades you on your ability to hit targets, follow paths and land gracefully. Attaining certain levels get you one, two or three stars, and you need at least one star in things to move on to the next set of missions. In this version, you fly around Wuhu Island of Wii Sports fame. That’s really rather arbitrary, but it explains why things seem familiar. (Oh, and all the reused assets.)
While it starts off reminiscent of the original games, it soon develops a feel more similar to Monster Games’ other titles, Excite Truck and Excitebots. Everything is structured similarly, from the menus to the challenge design. While those titles were solid, they didn’t exactly burn up the sales charts, so it’s a bit surprising that they didn’t try to rock the boat.
There are a few additions in Resort that are a bit gimmicky. During your flights you can take 3D photos of the island, and sometimes you’re required to. We understand the fun of taking 3D photos of things around you. We’re not so enamored with the ability to take shots of the eight or so things on this island we see the whole time we play the game. You can save them! You can share with friends! We are trying really hard over here to care about that.
Somewhat surprisingly for a first-party title, Pilotwings has a higher tendency than most games to kick you out of focus. The world’s nice and lush, but this problem (that is sure to be the recurring nightmare of the system) takes you away from it a bit. Otherwise, visually, we can’t complain, though with all these assets being used before for Wii Sports Resort, we’re just not enamored with them.
But we like Pilotwings. The controls work well, the Rocket Belt is still a freakin’ Rocket Belt and the challenges are varied if small in number. That last part is really the problem here. There are only a handful of missions for each craft, and they’re not long. If you’re the type to keep trying to get a perfect score, you’ll find it to be worth your time, but if you’re less persistent about those things, the missions will be over in a few hours. There’s a Free Flight mode, and that sounds relaxing. Right? Relaxing? Well it is in theory, but for some reason there’s a time limit on it, so you can’t just kick back and glide around for as long as you want. We didn’t notice anything in Free Flight mode like a score or a challenge, so it just seems silly to have a limit there.
At launch, Pilotwings is the most traditional first-party option, and it’s not a bad time. It’s just over fast enough that you may start reconsidering the costs of the game and system you just purchased.
And yeah, that photo thing. We’re still not sure what that was supposed to be.
Pros: Smooth flight, return of a classic
Cons: A little short and devoid of extra features