Reviewed on 3DS
Here is another migrated review for a Nintendo 3DS launch title. I had to have a little smile at the last sentence. Spot on, even if I do say so myself.
As has been alluded to previously, the launch of the 3DS would have gone all but unnoticed by me were it not for two things. The first was the decision to finally combine my love of writing and gaming to form part of this here site. The second was the promise of a new Super Monkey Ball (click here to see how that went…).
What I had barely considered, even when I arrived at the queue outside HMV, was Pilotwings Resort. The few things I had read about it didn’t really push my buttons, so until the demonstration console found it’s way into my hands a purchase wasn’t on my radar. I wouldn’t say it was love at first sight exactly, but I certainly had an admiration for the presentation and concept.
The concept, for those unfamiliar with either resort (or the at-the-time-groundbreaking SNES original), is to take control of one of three flying machines and guide them through obstacle courses in the air. Points are awarded for the quality of landing, your ability to navigate the course and time taken, amongst other things.
In resort, all of the action takes place on an island called Wuhu. The island itself brings to mind the sort of model village that would be a key tourist attraction in Somerset but, that confusion of scale aside, everything just looks so damn good. The colours are rich and vivid, and the 3D so well executed that you feel like you are gazing through a window into a cartoon world.
It doesn’t half play badly either. The main game is separated into a series of zones starting at novice, then progressing through the medals up to platinum. These five difficulty levels have between one and three missions for each of the plane, glider and jet-pack. The difficulty curve for these missions is well balanced – you never feel that you have been thrown in at the deep end – and the types of challenges vary enough, at least early on, to keep you interested.
There is also a free flight mode, where you have a limited amount of time to tour the island, gaining bonuses for visiting new locations and finding hidden collectables. Here though, the level of reward doesn’t feel commensurate with the amount of effort you need to put in. Yes, finding new hidden areas has its charm, but most of these are seen in the course of mission mode. The time limit here is frustrating too. After two minutes of play you have to start again, with cumulative balloon collection the only way to gradually increase your time.
These gripes over free flight mode don’t detract from the missions, however the overall package seems to be missing the je ne sais quoi that keeps me coming back for more. Whilst playing, Pilotwings Resort is elegant, charming and enjoyable. When you’re not though, it really isn’t an itch that needs scratching. The depth in the missions requires repeated plays to achieve a perfect score, but the desire to achieve them was never really there for me.
So how to sum up such a game? A truly quality, if limited experience that just fails to go that extra yard. When we begin to eye up the 4DS (or whatever technological behemoth Nintendo next manages to make family friendly) I can imagine looking back at Pilotwings Resort as a game well remembered, but never replayed.