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Pilotwings Resort (Nintendo 3DS) Review

Review for Pilotwings Resort on Nintendo 3DS - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Nintendo had fantastic success with the original Pilotwings at the launch of the 16-bit Super Nintendo console back in the early 1990s, as well as with Pilotwings 64 when the Nintendo 64 arrived on the scene. Following on from Paradigm Studios’ exemplary attempt, another Western company has been enlisted to handle the third iteration, Pilotwings Resort. However, will Monster Games, the team behind Excite Truck, Excitebots and Excitebike World Rally, be able to muster up enough quality to satiate the demands of patient fans that have waited 15 years for the next chapter in the aviation-themed series?

Pilotwings Resort feels like it should be part of a larger package, right from the very start. Its name alone infers a link with Wii Sports Resort, and indeed it is closely related in the fact that it shares the same main play area in Wuhu Island, the setting of the MotionPlus Wii sports title, the place that made an appearance in Wii Fit Plus, and the land that Shigeru Miyamoto has stated will become somewhat of a mainstay in future Nintendo releases, becoming almost like an iconic character in itself. Even the graphical style of Pilotwings Resort screams Wii _ range, and is not only reminiscent of the home console best-seller, but almost identical in appearance, right down to the fact that there are no new characters to choose from, with the player controlling their personal Mii throughout.

There are three main forms of aircraft available, a plane, rocket belt and glider, with other variations on the theme opening up as more levels are unlocked, yet they are indeed simply minor modifications on the originals (such as the Pedal Glider with its propellers and energy meter that runs low when pedalling too much, or the rocket-powered Turbo Jet plane). As for modes to keep the entertainment factor high, there is only one primary selection - Mission Mode, where there are five Class levels to choose from, starting with Novice and its six stages, working up to Platinum, which has nine challenges to work through. For each level tackled, players can receive up to three stars for their final rating, all dependent on completing the main objectives (fly through rings, burst balloons, take photographs of certain landmarks - photos that can then be saved to the 3DS hardware), as well as meeting various extra criteria (achieving a smooth landing, finishing within a set time, following the floating guide dots around a stage). Each aspect is handily broken down into separate point totals so players can keep track of where they need to improve.

Screenshot for Pilotwings Resort on Nintendo 3DS - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

The missions in Pilotwings Resort are highly enjoyable, yet whilst Monster Games wowed players with its inventive course creations in both Excite Truck and its crazy pseudo-sequel, Excitebots, the small locale of Wuhu Island limits the experience considerably as the whole sense of discovery from the previous two Pilotwings releases is stunted this time round. The island itself also does not seem quite as expansive as in its Wii format due to all events being air-based and preventing some of the scope provided by the land-based tasks of Wii Sports Resort. Another hindrance that prevents this highly polished game from neither living up to its predecessors, nor becoming an essential launch day purchase is the variety of challenges, or more the absence of such.

As mentioned briefly earlier, players are asked to take to the skies and carry out a number of tasks before carefully bringing their craft down onto a landing strip or pad, or to shoot down target boards. Some levels require accurate photographs to be captured whilst flying along a designated path, whilst others ask that floating gold rings are passed through, again as a specific route is navigated. There are a few inventive inclusions, such as using the Rocket Belt to charge your Mii swiftly at large crate-holding balloons to push them in the right direction, or following a car in the bi-plane as it drives along, using crosshairs to aim and shoot the small, different coloured balloons it brandishes as it trundles onwards.

Unfortunately, though, for the most part it is always a case of keeping to a route and landing safely, with the formula growing tiresome after a short time. Thankfully, in this respect, the game is over in barely any time at all, so the repetitiveness does not drag Pilotwings Resort down too much.

Screenshot for Pilotwings Resort on Nintendo 3DS - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

It is tough to criticise Pilotwings Resort too much as Monster Games has done a fantastic job of emulating Nintendo’s own style for the Wii _ family of games, and the visuals do really reveal how powerful the Nintendo 3DS hardware is, yet the missions only fleetingly maintain their air of mystery, instead growing repetitive after only a few play-through sessions. Considering how even the more onerous challenges can be overcome with at least a two-star rating in one sitting, and the entire Mission Mode can be completed in a matter of hours, having Pilotwings Resort at full price when launching alongside the 3DS portable console in the US and Europe is disappointing. If priced lower than the rest of the launch line-up, Pilotwings Resort would be far better value for money. However, with some retailers currently selling at the premium rate of £39.99, the three or four hours a player may get in return is a let-down, to say the least.

The opportunity to play in the time-constricted ‘Free Flight’ mode, where stunts can be carried out at numerous locations, key areas of the island can be uncovered and logged, plus large globes must be hit, should not conjure up thoughts of flying around endlessly, soaking up the ambience of Wuhu Island. Why? Well, ‘Free Flight’ actually has a two-minute long timer to prevent players from totally relaxing and absorbing the extent of Wuhu Island. The reason being is that there are 75 ‘Locations’ to tag around the island, as well as 120 silver ‘Balloons’ to pop and 60 ‘Stunt Rings’ to pass through (tilting left and right, as required, or barrel-rolling), and if a time constraint was not in place, the developers only hope of really extending the lifespan of Pilotwings Resort would have gone to waste. Instead players must repeatedly go through the two-minute process if they wish to account for every item around Wuhu Island (the reward for doing so being dioramas of aircraft and island monuments - like the statues in Smash Bros.), something that is not terribly appealing, but also does not take very long to finish off anyway.

Screenshot for Pilotwings Resort on Nintendo 3DS - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Basically, with the dearth of extra content, the nonexistence of online leader boards or multiplayer modes, in addition to the total deficiency in StreetPass or SpotPass-related connectivity, all that owners of Pilotwings Resort can rely on for longevity is the chance to go back and play each of the forty stages (that each last no more than around three or four minutes) over and over until first of all the three-star ratings are obtained, before attempting to then achieve a totally perfect score (the three gold stars will become outlined in red). Either that or take plenty of in-game photographs and share them with friends and family via the SD card.

Monster Games had the same issue with Excite Truck at the launch of the Wii back at the end of 2006, delivering what was essential a ‘Grade A’ product, yet in the end it was stripped of the highest accolades due to the length being unacceptable for the price-point and little-to-no reason for replaying the off-road, motion-controlled racer (there are no motion controls in Pilotwings Resort, for the record). With any luck, the graphical style and way this is being advertised will encourage the ‘casual’ crowd to approach Pilotwings Resort in their droves, giving Nintendo the push it needs to prevent the Pilotwings brand from going back into hibernation until the next system launch.

Screenshot for Pilotwings Resort on Nintendo 3DS- on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review


Monster Games and Nintendo show how accurate the Circle Pad is for minute movements, giving players the ultimate control over each aircraft type. The missions available prove that the old Pilotwings formula is still fresh even today, yet there is a distinct shortage in the overall variety of objectives included.


Pilotwings Resort is the perfect example of how fantastic the parallax technology works to give the impression of 3D depth, plus faithfully recreates Wuhu Island that featured in Wii Sports Resort and Wii Fit Plus with all its sparkling locations.


Between the funk-filled title track to the Wave Race-esque level introductory tune, and the adventurous, melodic main stage music and panpipe fanfare moments, everything proves to be very suitable for the proceedings, yet ultimately so inoffensive that it lacks the memorable nature of previous Pilotwings soundtracks.


All five difficulty Classes can be unlocked / completed in a matter of hours, the Free Flight mode is actually timed and limited in itself due to only one location being available, whilst there are no other extras to offer extra replay value.

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 7 out of 10

Good - Bronze Award

About this score
Rated 7 out of 10

Pilotwings Resort is technically a superb simulation that shows off the graphical prowess of the Nintendo 3DS, as well as demonstrating how impressive in-game 3D can be. Everything is thoroughly polished to perfection, however, despite fantastic controls, enjoyable missions and an extremely pleasant soundtrack that helps set the relaxing atmosphere, Pilotwings Resort is far too short given its price-tag and will be over in a few hours, maximum. If its price comes down somewhat, though, snap this up straight away.

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C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10 (1 Votes)

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Reader comments - add yours today Comments on this Review

There are no replies to this review yet. Why not be the first?

Really looking forward to playing this, when it arrives with my 3DS. It was the only launch game that interested me and I adored the previous games.

This is sounding like a solid title and although it's a little disappointing it's only a few hours long, it was what I was expecting.

Nice review Adam.

( Edited 22.03.2011 13:10 by Marzy )

It will be odd not getting a Nintendo title with the 3DS, but this review pretty much confirms that I won't be interested in Pilotwings Resort. I was not a big fan of the 64 version, either.

This is the kind of game where I question the £30 price tage nintendo will place on it. I agree with the arguments that come from nintendo but then they put out a piece of software like this.

Re hashed environment. THe same ugly textures and models. A very lite package that people would expect to download on their android for less then a tenner.

I'm really not a Sreet Fighter fan, but it's looking more and more like being the only launch title worth the asking price. I want to get this but I may just end up getting Pokemon. Seems to defeat the point of getting a launch 3DS when I'll still have an XL.

Add me on anything. I'm always looking for new friends/opponents/town visitors/chances to appear more popular than I actually am.
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Completely disappointed by the lack of additional islands :/. I still want it, but not as much as I did when it was unveiled. Now all I want is to wait till I find it for cheaper than the full price.

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

Kafei2006 said:
Completely disappointed by the lack of additional islands :/. I still want it, but not as much as I did when it was unveiled. Now all I want is to wait till I find it for cheaper than the full price.

A first party game rarely drops in price. I was naive in thinking I might be ably to get mario galaxy for �£20. It is 3yrs old

( Edited 22.03.2011 15:09 by meeto_0 )

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

meeto_0 said:
A first party game rarely drops in price. I was naive in thinking I might be ably to get mario galaxy for ��£20. It is 3yrs old

Oh my !! What's this ????

I was referring to buying a used copy, like off ebay on auction or something. I dunno about UK but where I live, even first party games get price drops after a while.

There's no justifying the lack of content in this one I'm afraid, as much as I love the previous ones, especially the N64 episode, which was rich with content compared to this one apparently.

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

I saw Smash Bros. Brawl for £3.99 in Argos and it was brand new.

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

From the launch games I've played so far:

SSFIV -> Ridge Racer -> Asphalt -> PES -> Pilotwings -> nintendogs

I've heard good things about Ghost Recon as well, with Julian Gollop being behind it, but not played it yet.

I really wanted to fall in love with Pilotwings Resort, but it was all over too quickly and the missions were starting to grow repetitive, so I moved on to the next launch title after the few hours it took to complete it. Shame.

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

I'd just like to say that my initial preference list ^^^ has definitely changed the more I play the launch titles. Asphalt has dropped down the list, PES went up in my estimations, whilst LSW3, Ghost Recon, Samurai Warriors and Rabbids are all in the mix as well.

That hasn't stopped Pilotwings from being a major disappointment in terms of content, though. All signs point to it being a big launch seller, though, which can only bode well for a sequel with online, more varied missions, extra islands and maybe even a multiplayer mode...

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

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