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Pilotwings Resort 3DS realises the dream of a portable Pilotwings update. While this leans heavily on Wii-Sports Resort flying the familiarity works in the favour of this almost perfect 3DS launch title.
Getting my hands on Pilotwings Resort was not quite the experience I had expected. After all the grand claims and pizzazz of the media circus around the 3DS's launch, Pilotwings was surprisingly sedate, almost understated.
You can choose to play in either Free Fly mode or the main Mission mode. In free flight you have a preset amount of time to explore and discover as many points of interest as you can. Although I started with the obvious locations on the tops of buildings or amongst the large plaza complexes of Wuhu island, the desire to collect them all soon had me investigating every nook and cranny.
Like the Wii-Sports Resort flying on the Wii, there are an impressive array of location pins to go after. Flying around the island gave me a good idea of the best spots to explore, but it wasn't until I adventured into caves, inside volcanoes and under bridges that I started to get a feel for just how much there is to discover here.
The Mission mode is more focused, and has you progressing through a series of increasingly difficult challenges. Although I usually picked the Bi-plane for exploration, here you have to complete missions with each mode of transport to unlock the next set of challenges.
Spending more time with the Jetpack and Hang Glider was no bad thing though. Each of them handles very differently and makes certain missions particularly challenging. The Jetpack is great for pinpoint landings and collecting items in a small area, but really struggles over long distances. The Hang Glider is similar to the Biplane but with the advantage that it can go considerably slower and corner much tighter, this is really helpful on the photography missions -- where you have to locate and fly to particular locations to return home with a picture.
They actually seemed to relish the opportunity.
The kids have played Wii-Sports Resort to death, and collected the majority of location pins on that version of Wuhu Island. I thought this might deter them from being overly excited about returning to the same location.
They actually seemed to relish the opportunity. The novelty of the 3D display drew the requisite oohs and ahhs from them as they fiddled endlessly with the 3D slider. It made me realise that there was no real way I could tell if my youngest two (3 and 5) were playing with 3D switched off, as I had asked them, and I soon setup the Parental Control to put a password on this feature.
Pilotwings Resort plays much like its Wii counterpart. I missed the subtle fidelity of the MotionPlus controls and the detail close to the ground seems to have been simplified a bit, but otherwise it is hard to spot any real differences.
The kids actually did a much better job of figuring out what had changed than I did. In fact a favourite game developed with one of them flying around in the Wii game while another played on the 3DS, whereupon they would shout out any minute differences they noticed.
It turns out that although it's essentially the same island there has been plenty of development between the two games. It seemed to make sense to the kids that the island would have benefited from the influx of tourists and trade the Wii game brought with it.
In terms of visuals, the addition of the 3D display and the smaller screen makes this a superior experience to Wii-Sports Resort. I found that with the 3D slider just under halfway I could play the game for a good hour or so without any complaints from my eyes or brain and my seven year old seemed to be happy to play it with no complaining. The kids in general seemed to "get" the 3D output without the straining of muscles I found first time I saw it.
As well to the 3D adjustments you can adjust the map's magnification on the bottom screen by tapping it, and switch between three different cameras. Although the first person view is impressive, and top down view quite fascinating, I plumped for the sheer joy of seeing the little aircraft pop out the screen in third person 3D.
Although the 3D novelty soon wares off, it continues to add something substantial to the feel of the game. The solidity of the top screen works well with the almost therapeutic sense of gently exploring your own private island.
There are a number of different elements that combine cleverly here to make a very interesting and well judged launch game. The 3D display, analogue controls, accessible play style and familiarity from Wii-Sports Resort all work well, and in concert create a compelling little game that is rather hard to put down.
I actually think this muted start bodes well for the game's longevity.
I was, however, more disappointed by the lack of attention to the Pilotwings brand. I was really hoping for that knee wobbling jump from 30,000 feet (which was actually captured well in Wii-Sports Resort). Failing that I'd hope for at least some Parachuting levels.
Maybe this is something that you can unlock if you complete the game or progress to the later levels. But as it stands there is much more Resort than Pilotwings in the mix.
Although this may all sounds like I am rather under whelmed with Pilotwings Resort, I actually think this muted start bodes well for the game's longevity. It leaves the impressive big bangs to other launch titles like Street Fighter IV or Pro Evolution Soccer 2011, and gets on with offering its distinct experience.
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