|Dev: Monster Games Inc|
|Release: March 27, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: N/A|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
When you first start playing Pilotwings Resort, you receive a simple tutorial on flying. Then you can take the game's three aircraft types out for a spin and test out your innate flying ability. As you pilot the rocket-belt, airplane, and glider around the world of Wuhu Island (yes, THAT Wuhu Island, of WiiSports Resort and WiiFit fame), it's easy to think to yourself, "Yeah, I got this." Zooming around the island in these early moments is effortless, and you may think you are the master of the skies. Well, I hate to burst your bubble, but no, you are not as good as you think you are. And Pilotwings Resort is a game that will demonstrate how you can go from the heights of confidence to the depths of despair in just a few short minutes. Though the game starts off incredibly easy, by the end of it, your eyes may be bleeding from staring at the 3D visuals for too long, and you'll be left wondering where it all went wrong.
Pilotwings Resort is not a bad game. I thoroughly enjoyed it. But if you look at its cutesy Mii characters and the tropical setting lifted directly from the casual-friendly WiiSports Resort, and think that this game is going to be pure fluff, you couldn't be more wrong. Once you get past the initial free-flying mode, the difficulty ramps up incredibly, and makes Pilotwings Resort one of the most challenging games in the 3DS launch schedule.
There are two main modes in Pilotwings Resort: Free Flight and Mission Mode. Mission Mode is the main, linear mode that has you progressing through different levels of rapidly increasing difficulty. These missions include speed runs, item gathering, target shooting, picture-taking, and flying through hoops. Though these different missions start out separately, they start merging together in the higher difficulty levels, and the learning curve ramps up exponentially.
The difficulty in Pilotwings Resort is a tricky thing to describe, as the controls are actually very simple. You use the thumbstick to navigate, and you use the face buttons for boosting or accelerating. However, precise control is mandatory for success in Pilotwings Resort, and you have to nail your missions if you want to move on. The game uses a star-based scoring system that rewards you with a 1-3 star rating depending on how well you fulfilled the specific mission, how fast you did it, and what penalties you incurred during your flight. The rating system is actually really harsh, and achieving a three-star rating, even on the game's lowest non-Training level is almost impossible without a dozen practice runs. Although the game is certainly not a hardcore simulator, the way you have to go back through levels to tweak your own moves certainly resembles one, and the difficulty level will probably be frustrating to those who pick it up and think the inclusion of Miis and a familiar setting automatically means it will be casual. It's definitely not.
The repetition in the game may be frustrating, but love it or hate it, that's where Pilotwings Resort gets a lot of its replay value. There aren't actually that many levels to complete (there's about forty across all the difficulty levels) but getting to the higher levels by bumping up your star rating in lower levels becomes incredibly time-consuming, but strangely addictive.