So the 3DS is finally here. And, you know, it’s got a 3D capable display without the need for glasses. Great, now where are the games? Pretty much the safe bet with any new Nintendo hardware release is to stick with the 1st party games– thats either going to be Pilotwings or Steel Diver. That’s an easy choice, I played hours of the original Pilotwings on SNES and Pilotwings 64 on the.. um, Nintendo 64. Here we go…
Nintendo has a strange way of creating themes around certain games. With SNES everything was “Super”. On the N64 every game title was appended with “64”. On the DS many games fleshed out the acronym DS in their titles. Well, in the current generation of Wii and 3DS it seems like the new hotness is the “Resort”. I guess Mario had a great stay at Wuhu island despite spending most of his stay cleaning up the town with his water cannon. Anyhow, this is where Wii Fit and Sports Resort take place, and now we return to The Island in Pilotwings Resort.
This is a more or less streamlined version of the previous games. Players can fly the plane, jetpack, and hang glider through a series of increasingly difficult missions. In typical Japanese gaming fashion the runs are scored and assigned a rating of 1-3 stars. However, the game encourages you to get a perfect score… but then you can replay the same level after the perfect score and get an even higher score. I don’t get it either.
The other main game mode is Free Flight, where players can take any of the rides out to explore the island. And what better way to explore the island than to do so while collecting stuff. Oh boy. The “free flight” missions are also limited to just a minute or two; the duration of the flights increase as you collect more crap, at which point you probably don’t need the extra time anyhow.
And that’s it. A seasoned pilotwings player can plow through the mission mode in a few hours. It’s a bit disappointing. But what about the 3D? Well it looks great, Pilotwings is a good vehicle to show off the capabilities of 3D and Wuhu island has enough colorful Wii-style eye-candy to enjoy the visuals. For a launch title Pilotwings Resort ain’t too bad, and most likely better than many of the 3rd party ports available at launch. I mean– I’m sure SFIV looks great on the 3DS too, but I’ve already seen that game.
To recap: Pilotwings is good for a launch title and does a good job of showing off the systems 3D capabilities. However, the game is relatively short with little replay value beyond Free Play, and it doesn’t make use of the 3DS wireless or AR capabilities. With only 18 or so titles at launch you’re going to want to play something on a cartridge; Pilotwings Resort should be in your current top 3.