Pilot Sports (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Renan Fontes 19.01.2019

Review for Pilot Sports on Nintendo Switch

Indie developers paying tribute to older games can be a great way of revitalizing interest in a genre or franchise, without sulking too deeply into the inherent dangers of homage. In a time where Mega Man was more or less dead, Shovel Knight created renewed interest in the concept of the action-platformer. With the Pilotwings franchise's virtual non-existence since 2011, it only makes sense for passionate fans to get their hands on a dev kit, and create a spiritual successor. Unfortunately, Pilot Sports, while competent enough to fill a niche that needs filling, does too little on its own to stand out as a videogame with a defined identity.

Pilot Sports is Pilotwings in everything but the name. Given how long the latter has gone without a single installment, this is not immediately so bad, as it at least gives fans the chance to sink their teeth into familiar territory, but extended play sessions will, like clockwork, devolve into audiences wishing they weren't playing such a cheap imitation of a beloved franchise. The former fails not because it copies its inspiration so blatantly, but because it does so haphazardly. There is a distinct lack of polish present in the flight simulator where, no matter how hard it tries, it cannot lived up to Pilotwings' high standard.

Screenshot for Pilot Sports on Nintendo Switch

If nothing else, the series always felt appropriately refined in terms of aesthetic and controls. Pilot Sports, on the other hand, opts for a clean, but homogenized look that does its tropical setting no favours, along with a rather low skill ceiling and floor. Gameplay is split up across fifty missions, themselves split into four separate categories: Plane, Jetpack, Hang Glider, and Parachute. Each mission involves a timer either counting up or counting down depending on the objective, and all four play styles feature enough similarities where it's simple to jump from mode to mode without the entire experience coming off uncomfortably uniform.

Of the four, the Plane is easily the best to play as, due to its depth. Of course, said depth is only in comparison to the other three categories. The plane can accelerate, decelerate, and break, meaning that manoeuvrability has to be given a bit more focus than in other modes. Turns require some semblance of precision, and simply going as fast as possible won't get players far. The skill ceiling is not particularly high, but it is a good deal higher than the skill floor, requiring the most mastery.

Screenshot for Pilot Sports on Nintendo Switch

Jetpacks are an interesting enough concept, prioritizing strategic, vertical movement in place of standard turns and curves, but the addition of fuel is perhaps one step too far, taking the timer, and effectively adding another notch of complication over the mode. Naturally, it is not as if the fuel tank is particularly offensive, but later stages do make poor use of it as it contributes little of value outside the presence of the perpetual timer. The Hang Glider and the Parachute are rather in similar in that both more or less involve propelling downwards towards a target.

Both modes do play differently, with the Parachute focusing on vertical downward movement specifically, but they are so conceptually linked together that it also seems a waste for half of the title's four modes to be dedicated to the same concept. What really roughens the whole package, though, is how little room there is for personal growth. The need for mastery is not exactly non-existent, given how insufferably hard the latter half becomes, but the core mechanics simply do not allow for greater depth than what is already present.

Screenshot for Pilot Sports on Nintendo Switch

Learning to curve with the plane will happen by the second set of stages. From there, it's just stagnation until the very end. On the subject of difficulty, the first half is fine enough, as it allows for a fair bit of leniency, along with just generally offering a familiarly relaxing experience, but the second half is a tried and true nightmare, necessitating perfection far often than not. Given how stilted the controls how, this effectively leaves only one way to progress through each level, killing experimentation.

Pilot Sports can be fun, but only when it really channels that Pilotwings feel. More often than not, it comes off like a pale imitation that wants to give series veterans a taste of what they've been missing without really wanting to put in the effort of expanding the franchise its homaging's concepts or mechanics.

Screenshot for Pilot Sports on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

4/10
Rated 4 out of 10

Subpar

Although Pilot Sports is not exactly bad, it is likewise far from compelling in its own right. Most of its best qualities are shared with the far more polished Pilotwings series, with its reliance on homage doing a considerable amount of damage. The content present is fine enough, but that, in itself, is a problem. Fine is not good. Pilot Sports is a below average flight simulator that might scratch that wholly unique Pilotwings itch, but only for so long.

Developer

Z-Software

Publisher

EuroVideo Medien

Genre

Simulation

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  4/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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