There’s something to be said for games as a method of relaxation. While I love a game of Marvel vs Capcom or Killzone as much as the next gamer, I often find myself sneaking in something a little more sedate to help me unwind.
In recent times my relaxation of choice has been with Outrun Online Arcade and the wonderful Magical Sound Shower music track that accompanied my drives. With Nintendo’s latest instalment of the Pilotwings series for the 3DS launch, there is now a whole new island resort for chill-out time.
The island resort that players navigate in Pilotwings Resort may look familiar to some players, as it is Wuhu Island from the Wii Fit series of game’s on the Wii. The island is a joy to fly around in the game’s three starting vehicles – plane, glider and jetpack – and is filled with secret entrances, caves and areas that can take some time to discover alone.
The 3D effects in Pilotwings are subtle and not as pronounced as in something like Ridge Racer, but that’s not to say they are unimpressive. As the game has such a focus on gauging distance, height and depth the 3D effects help in judging a landing or plotting a safe course through a tricky set of obstacles. While not essential to playing the game well, it does give a slight (and visually pleasing) advantage. By using the in-game camera, stills can be saved and shown off through the console’s built in 3D image viewer.
There are two main game types within the game, ‘Mission Mode’ and ‘Free Flight Mode’. The first game type involves a series of missions the player has to carry out, from flying through static rings to following a guide plane and executing stunts. Playing through Mission Mode also unlocks some new vehicles that I won’t mention here to save those not wanting spoilers.
The second game type does exactly as it states, the player is given a set time limit to freely roam around Wuhu Island collecting the various rings, balloons and landmark markers that litter the area. At first, the two minutes provided seems meagre. But as more balloons are collected extra time is added to the clock. Anyone with a penchant for collecting should fall in love with Free Flight Mode as there are numerous collectibles that vary by aircraft type. While all the way up to the platinum missions can be routed without too much hassle, Free Play Mode will keep players coming back on a consistent basis for some time.
Since its release, Pilotwings has been criticised by some for not offering up enough variety or longevity. This criticism is rather unjust as there is certainly a lot to do within the game’s one island. As missions are passed they are graded on a points and three-star system, achieving a perfect rank on every mission will take great determination and time. Collecting everything on Wuhu Island in Free Flight mode will also take a lot of time and encourages the player to take their time and explore into every corner, cave and valley they can.
Pilotwings is the ideal launch title for the 3DS. Firstly it offers up impressive 3D visuals that show off the console’s capabilities. Secondly, it revives a much-loved old franchise for a new generation of gamers. Finally, that great feeling of discovery as something new is uncovered is there in abundance.
Go into this game seeking action and high-octane thrills and you’ll be disappointed. For those that seek the pleasure of a wonderfully constructed, challenging and mostly relaxing experience, come right on in. Pilotwings Resort is in some ways the video game equivalent of a summer holiday, get the headphones on and enjoy the aerial views of a sunshine paradise to escape reality for a little while.