If someone were to ask me which game among the 3DS’ launch line-up best showed the handheld’s potential, I’d probably point towards Pilotwings Resort. I would never label the game a triumph of the modern age, however. It’s just that among the laundry list of titles available for the portable at launch, Pilotwings Resort packs the most visual punch, the best gameplay and the largest potential for repeat visits.
Again, compared to the other offerings.
Were this the middle of the 3DS’ lifespan, I’d be here telling you that Pilotwings Resort is a fair entry in a catalogue with better buys. So, if you’re reading this review and their are an abundance of other gaming options out there, keep in mind that what follows is discourse concerning the other offerings that stand to prove the technological merit of the 3DS.
Pilotwings Resort is the third entry in one of my favorite gaming franchises of all time. I played the original title to death on the Super Nintendo. This game was portrayed in a serious light. You were a pilot getting your license at a flight school that specialized in hang gliding, prop planes, rocket belts and parachutes. The entire title, like the other games, was a series of flight challenges or mini-games centered around single objectives. However, unlike the 64 version and the 3DS version, the SNES version of Pilotwings had a crazy, military chopper mission at the end that stood in stark contrast with the rest of the game.
The sequel released for the 64 and delivered an entire new level of wackiness. The game was brighter, centered around humor and oddly unique from the original. Still, it was fun, as is the headline penchant of the Pilotwings franchise… simple fun.
The 3DS version repeats that mantra, though it has once again taken on a completely unique look and feel. This game is built around the same island featured in WiiSports Resort. The graphical presentation, the tone, the aural presence and the menus all feel like a part of the WiiSports series. That’s sort of a downer for me, seeing as how Pilotwings traditionally stood apart from the pack of games around it. It was, unto itself, completely unique.
However, aside from the shift in tone from fantastic to bland, Pilotwings Resort is a remarkable launch effort from Nintendo. The gameplay is rock solid and makes great use of the circle pad control system. Launch titles for the DS seemed to be dead set on shoehorning the touch screen into the game’s mechanics. In Pilotwings Resort, the touchscreen serves for menu navigation only.
You’ll pilot planes, strap on the rocket belt, fall from the sky in a squirrel suit, hang glide and hover bike (which is awesome) around the island as you’re charged with flying through rings, blasting targets and landing your vessels. That’s Pilotwings; striving for perfection among simple goals. While you could probably blast through the game in a few sittings, coming back and perfecting every objective and mission will be tough. Then you’ll be able to fly through the (oddly limited at 3:00) Free Flight mode and snatch collectibles and discover locations. That fare is best left to completionists.
Where Pilotwings Resort truly shines is in its 3D presentation and overall graphical charm. The game is lush, vivid and rich with color. Flying at sunset is stunning and offers up a wealth of potential for future titles on the 3DS. The 3D effect is great here, sliding the slider offers up a full range of depth. And, flying by in-game objects is one of the best examples of 3D available for the system at launch.
If you’ve picked up a 3DS at launch and are looking for the one game that will prove the system’s merit, Pilotwings Resort is your best option. Be warned, however, that unless you plan on mastering every objective in the title, you’ll likely finish the game in a day or so and be ready to move on.