The Pilotwings series has always been a beloved Nintendo franchise, even if it’s one of the rarer ones, and with Pilotwings Resort for the 3DS, Nintendo has chosen to incorporate the flying mechanics with the Wii Sports universe. The result is a unique, if short, excursion to the skies above Wuhu Island.
In Pilotwings Resort, you create a Mii character and go through a series of increasingly difficult challenges. You can choose to fly a seaplane, hang glider, or a jetpack, and the challenges consist mostly of flying through a series of rings and landing successfully within a specific time limit. There are variations on this, and you are allowed a free-flight mode to explore at a more leisurely pace, but the gist of the game revolves around time challenges. The different flying devices all feel and control differently, adding a bit of diversity, and each requires you to master them in order to advance to the later challenges.
While the challenges are difficult and there are quite a few of them, there just is not enough variety and you’ll either run through them or hit a wall trying within a few hours. Each time you complete a challenge, you get a star rating, from one to three. This can add some replay value to those who enjoy getting high scores or collecting the highest possible rating on each challenge. Wuhu Island is gorgeous, but it’s also relatively small and there isn’t anywhere else you can go. After the feeling of discovery wears out, the sense of freedom for which the Pilotwings series is known disappears.
The visuals in Pilotwings Resort are very reminiscent of those found in Wii Sports Resort. Wuhu Island is reproduced nicely, with excellent geometry, vibrant colors, and inventive lighting. Activating the 3D makes it even more stunning, with excellent depth and clarity. I’m not sure if the 3D actually helps in beating some of the challenges, but it does add to the visuals and makes flying around more enjoyable. There are also different lighting environments. You can play during the day, dusk, or at night, and each time of day looks great, although it doesn’t change anything about the gameplay. The sound is reminiscent of the Wii Sports franchise, which is to say light and airy, but not particularly memorable.
With its short length and comparatively small play area, Pilotwings Resort can be a tough sell at the high price DS games are launching with. Still, with an overall weak launch lineup, Pilotwings Resort will undoubtedly stand out amongst the available 3DS games. The beautiful 3D, easy mechanics, and lively environments will have wide appeal and the game will provide a few hours of fun before you get your fill. This is one short, but enjoyable, flight.