At a glance...

Reviewer Platform Publisher Developer Players
Richard Pilot Nintendo 3DS Nintendo Nintendo & Monster Games 1
Requirements Buy from
None. Click here to buy Pilotwings Resort.

Pilotwings Resort review

Another launch of a Nintendo console passes us by and reviews of the 3DS have started to trickle through (well, more like a torrent at this point). But before you can make any judgement on the console itself, we need to consider the games, for without that what does it have to offer gamers? Nintendo made an ingenious decision when they released the Wii in Europe and that was to include a free game with every console. Not only was this a value add for those on the fence about making a purchase, but it also did something that no-one expected. It showed you everything you needed to know about the console. By playing Wii Sports, people understood the vision behind the technology, they knew what the Wii had to offer you and it made people excited about the future of that technology. Turning our attention back to the 3DS, do any of the titles give us the same vision for 3D gaming? Sadly, they don’t, but one gets awfully close.

Enter stage left, Pilotwings Resort, a flashback to Nintendo's past. The first thing you'll notice about the game is that it has been given a fresh coat of paint, courtesy of the interface seen in the "Wii" series of Nintendo first party games, most famously, Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort. It is the latter we must focus on; fans of Wii Sports Resort will immediately recognize the playground of Pilotwings Resort as none other than Wuhu Island, the setting of the previous Resort game.

Yes, we can't actually show you the 3D imagery here.

Yes, we can't actually show you the 3D imagery here.

There are two modes of play on offer to the prospective Wuhu tourist. Mission Mode offers up a bunch of objective-based flying challenges that are reminiscent of the original Pilotwings. Most see you flying through rings or bursting balloons, but there is always the odd exception, such as a free-fall down to earth, going through checkpoints at a certain speed or shooting targets with a gun mounted to your plane. Points are awarded at the end for time taken, the objectives completed and the quality of your landing. There are five sections of missions (Novice to Platinum) with between six and nine missions in each. Sadly, it won’t take long for you to get them all but the points system helps by giving you a star rating out of three and encourages you to retry to perfect your score.

Pilotwings Resort's other mode, free-roam, grants you exactly that, a two-minute jaunt around the island, going where ever you see fit. To keep you occupied, you are encouraged to fly through collectibles, large floating info signs that give you a fit of information about the area you're flying around. Sound familiar? Yet another feature taken from Wii Sports Resort. On top of that, you'll also unlock other collectibles, such as balloons, some of which can only be burst by certain aircraft as well as stunt wings which ask you to fly through them at various angles, sometimes upside-down. It's a great opportunity to just enjoy the sights and more importantly the 3Dness (yes, I know it's not a real word!) of the game without worrying about completing any objectives, although they are there if you want something to do. The only disappointment is that you are thrown out after two minutes, which doesn't give you much of the time to do anything; a one way trip to one of the smaller islands perhaps? A quick run to collect some info bubbles? All too soon you're back in the menu and you have to start all over again.

Soaring through the air is very satisfying

Soaring through the air is very satisfying

So what of the 3D? I hear you ask. Pilotwings Resort demonstrates the most comprehensive use of 3D on the handheld that I've seen. The game gives a fantastic sense of depth, which really helps with flying through those hoops. The reason it does this so well is because of the camera position. The camera is attached behind the aircraft so there will always be a large 3D object in the foreground. This allows you to draw a direct comparison of depth to any surfaces in the background; you always have a way to reference that. The only downside to this approach is that you can't focus on objects that are directly ahead of the aircraft, but this a side effect of the technology rather than a problem with the game itself, so we couldn't fault Pilotwings Resort for that. The most impressive demonstration of this is when you skim the ocean’s surface with your plane and you see the body of water stretching back into the distance. All of this means that Pilowings Resort is a great example of what 3D has to offer on the 3DS from the menus to the rolling landscapes of Wuhu island.

The game also handles really well, making great use of the new circle pad on the 3DS . There's no need for an acceleration button, the game taking you to top speed relatively quickly at the beginning of each mission. The A button grants you a temporary boost that allows you to quickly reach an objective, but drastically affects how tight you can bank. This will recharge after a few seconds and you have unlimited uses of the them over each course. Gently tapping the B button will gradually slow you down, allowing you get those perfect landings. Whilst in the plane or jet, tapping either of the shoulder buttons makes you "do a barrel roll" and curiously holding them both down lets you fly up side down (with no impact on handling besides the reverse controls). Whilst the plane is more maneuverable, the most interesting aircraft to control is the glider which relies purely on the wind to power it. Tilting the glider down will increase you speed (at a cost to your altitude, of course) and tilting the glider up will slow you down. A combination of the two will grant a reasonable amount of control and by using large gusts of wind (or friendly-looking hurricanes as we call them) scattered across the track you can get carried back up to a safe height. The sound of the wind rustling against the canopy of your glider echoed out of the 3DS speakers and illustrates one of Pilotwings Resort's most relaxing stages.

Just hang(glid)ing around

Just hang(glid)ing around

Unfortunately, there are a few features we felt that Pilotwings should have included. Whilst the game makes a fantastic showcase for handheld 3D gaming, none of the other 3DS features even make an appearance. There’s no motion control, no augmented reality and no StreetPass. Whilst the first two features aren’t something we were expecting to see in this sort of game, we were surprised by the lack of StreetPass functionality. No custom content, no ghost data, no competitive leaderboards. For a game that has supposedly leapt its way out of Wii Sports Resort, why wasn't dogfighting included? It's certainly something we would forgive from a third-party developer, inexperienced with a new platform, but for a title that was led hand-in-hand by Nintendo, we can’t be forgiving. That said, what is on offer is thoroughly enjoyable and Monster Games have done themselves proud. If only they had bundled this in with the 3DS...


Overall Pilotwings Resort is a fantastic showcase for what 3D gaming has to offer on Nintendo's latest handheld. It may be a little light on longevity, but it's a great ride from start to finish. 8/10

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