Pilotwings Resort Review

By Jake Gaskill - Posted Mar 23, 2011

PilotWings Resort hits the same highs and same lows of the previous two games, but it does it in skeptic-converting 3D. The game doesn't last long, but it's a beautiful, (at times) peaceful ride that sets a solid foundation for what the 3DS is capable of delivering in the future.

The Pros
  • 3D works nicely with aerial gameplay
  • WuHu Island is gorgeous
  • A positive sign of things to come
The Cons
  • Over in 2-3 hours
  • Controls get unruly in harder challenges
  • "Free Flight" mode isn't so free

PilotWings Resort Review:

The Pilotwings series has a legacy of being one of Nintendo's go-tos when it comes to showing off the graphical capabilities of a new console.  The original Pilotwings was a launch title for the Super Nintendo, Pilotwings 64 launched with the Nintendo 64, and now Pilotwings Resort keeps the tradition alive by releasing with the Nintendo 3DS. Funnily enough, the latest installment hits the same highs and same lows of the previous two games, but it does it in skeptic-converting 3D. The game doesn’t last long, but it’s a beautiful, (at times) peaceful ride that sets a solid foundation for what the 3DS is capable of delivering in the future.

Pilotwings Resort

It's Coming Right At Me!

Seeing as how talked about the glassesless 3D effect of the 3DS has been over the past year, we might as well get it out of the way up front. I’m happy to say that the 3D actually ended up working really nicely with the flight-based game design. Well, to be more accurate, the 2.5D, since I found the full 3D had some ghosting issues at times, which is not only distracting but also ends up hurting your eyes. However, with the slider at 2.5, the depth-of-field effect was still pronounced enough to give that sense of 3D without the distractions or eye strain. I have a feeling that the degree of 3D people use/prefer will differ from person to person and depend on their own ocular capabilities, but once I hit that sweet spot on the slider, it was smooth sailing. The game also looks great in traditional 2D, for those gamers whose eyes just can’t handle 3D.

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I Wish I Really Had A Rocket Belt

Pilotwings Resort consists of two modes: Mission Flight and Free Flight, each of which has specific challenges tailored for the game’s various flight-based vehicles. These vehicles include two types of planes, a hang glider, two types of rocket belts, a bike glider, and the sadly under used squirrel suit. All the vehicles handle uniquely and as you’d expect them to, but when it comes to the harder challenges, especially if you want to get a three star rating, you realize how imprecise and clunky the controls actually are. You won’t really notice this when you’re peacefully gliding around the blue skies above WuHu Island (yes, the same WuHu island from Wii Sports Resort), but when you have to navigate through a rocky tunnel without touching the walls, it’s a different story.

Pilotwings Resort

Mission Flight contains 39 challenges, spread across five difficulty classes, but you can finish them all in around three hours. You’ll fly through rings, shoot balloons being pulled by boats and planes, and use thermal vents to generate enough speed to smash through giant red barricade for bonus points, just to name a few. Each mission has a maximum point total, and the closer you get to that total the more stars you get, so there is definitely incentive to come back to try to top your best score, even though, like I said before, you’ll most likely be battling the controls more than the actual challenge requirements.

In Free Flight, you, inexplicably, only have two minutes to fly around and enjoy the scenery. This limit was obviously put in place because there are locations to discover, Wii trophies to collect, and rings to fly through all over the various islands, and finding these items unlocks dioramas of all the vehicles, but why the game wouldn’t include an option to just freely fly around for as long as you want is a bit baffling.

Everyone Looks Like Ants From Up Here

Considering that Pilotwings Resort is essentially a Wii Sports-ish compilation that serves as more of a packaged tech demo than an actual game, it’s a shame Nintendo didn’t bundle it with the 3DS. Because for what’s here, $40 is a little steep, especially if you just spent $250 for the 3DS. The game and the tech driving it are solid enough, but you’ve basically seen all it has to offer after about an hour. This wouldn’t be such a problem had the game come with the 3DS, but since you paid for it, you’ll undoubtedly start to wonder what else you could have bought with that money.

Still want to play it? Why not rent it at Gamefly?