|System: Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Hudson||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Konami||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: March 20, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Adam Brown
Wing Island starts off with Junior, the game's main character, describing his situation. Junior has spent a large amount of time working for his grandfather at Wing Inc. One day, his grandfather decides to get away from it all and takes a trip, leaving Junior in charge of the company. Now he must fill his grandfather's shoes by taking on any mission that needs to be done. Although his grandfather has left him, Junior will not be alone in his quest to keep Wing Inc. afloat. He is aided by the company's other employees including his long-time friend Puffin.
As with the rest of the game, the storyline is clearly targeted at a younger audience. It does a good job of being kid-friendly and cute but may be a little too cutesy for more mature gamers. However, the gameplay in Wing Island can appeal to players of all ages.
Unfortunately, the controls in this game are really a mixed bag. Every positive seems to be balanced out with an unnecessary negative. Since this is a Wii game, it takes advantage of the motion-sensing controls provided by the Wii-mote. Flight in this game is handled by tipping the Wii-mote up and down for altitude control and twisting it left and right to turn. For a tight turn, you can shake the Wii-mote either left or right and boost or brake by thrusting or pulling the controller respectively. While flying in the open skies, far away from obstacles, the controls work perfectly and feel very intuitive. Unfortunately, the game will often have you flying in tight quarters where precision is necessary, and then the steering completely falls apart. While trying to twist and turn around obstacles to complete objectives, you will find yourself slamming into things and crashing far too often. The motion controlled steering is just not responsive or accurate enough when precise turning is a necessity. This is upsetting since the open-air flight feels so natural and fun.
In Wing Island, you will need to complete various missions for the people of the surrounding three islands. These missions include everything from delivering goods and putting out fires to snapping aerial photographs and popping balloons during tournaments. In some of these missions, you will be flying solo but most will have you in formation with four of your employees. You will have three different formations to choose from, each with specific strengths and weaknesses. The V formation is well balanced in both turning and speed, the line formation is used for increased speed and slower turning, and the cross formation is useful for more responsive turning but at a drastically reduced speed. Players will need to balance the use of these formations to succeed. Unfortunately, switching between these formations is often disastrous and frustrating. To switch formations, you will need to point the Wii-mote straight up and pull, drop, or shake it in either direction. This tends to completely disorient you since aiming the Wii-mote up will result in you climbing in altitude. I think that changing formations would have been better served by just requiring a simple button or directional press.
Besides the story mode, Wing Island also includes a free mode, a mini-game, and two player multiplayer options. Free mode consists of flying around any of the three islands that you have completed. This allows you to fly around and appreciate the view without the worry of a ticking clock and an objective to complete. There is only one mini-game in Wing Island but it has five levels. You must pop as many balloons as possible, getting bonuses for consecutively destroying balloons. Each of the five levels of this mini-game have the balloons dispersed in a different formation, which adds some depth to the balloon popping frenzy. Two players can also face off against each other, one with the Wii-mote and the other with the Nunchuk, in one of two games. Players will compete to pop the most balloons in a balloon formation or destroy each other's trail of balloons that follow their planes. These games are fairly fun but you better enjoy the company of your opponent since the cord between the Wii-mote and Nunchuk will require you to sit uncomfortably close to one another.
Like I said earlier, this game is clearly targeting a younger audience. The storyline, graphics, and sound in Wing Island clearly demonstrate this. This game does look fairly good. The islands are visually appealing and well detailed with many trees, houses, people, and structures populating them. The cartoony chicken characters in the game aren't graphically stunning but they do fit the feel of the title well. The music is a nice instrumental mix that really brings the game to life. Perhaps the most enjoyable, and amusing, part of the game to me was the characters' voices. When the characters speak they sound like a cross between an "Animal Crossing" character and the little robot from "Buck Rodgers." It fit in well with the younger appeal of the game and always made me laugh.
Wing Island does many things right but does too many things wrong to be a great game. It can definitely be appealing but imprecise controls, lack of missions and mission variety, and extremely short length (only three levels) detract from the game's otherwise enjoyable experience. There are still many good parts of this game. I would, however, like to see this game's problems improved upon, perhaps in a future sequel.
CCC Freelance Writer