March 23, 2011 at 10:00 PM ET
If you're thinking about picking up the "Pilotwings Resort" game along with a new Nintendo 3DS when they debut in stores this weekend, I have one piece of advice: Be sure to bring your love of flight ... as well as an air sickness bag. You may just need them both.
That is, "Pilotwings Resort" is a delightful, high-flying flight simulation game ... as long as the soaring 3-D effects that are its selling point don't make you woozy.
Nintendo's new 3DS game device launches Sunday bringing with it a world of 3-D gaming without the need for glasses. And "Pilotwings Resort" is among the launch titles that Nintendo has carefully designed to show off the device's dimension-expanding abilities.
It works like this: Users are able to see games play out in eye-popping 3-D right there on the Nintendo 3DS' top screen — but only as long as they keep their heads properly aligned in front of the screen. Tilt your head or move it outside the rather narrow viewing window and the image goes blurry and you feel like someone has grabbed your eyeballs and yanked them toward your nose.
As for "Pilotwings Resort" ... it is the third in Nintendo's "Pilotwings" series. The two previous games are now considered classics, having appeared on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System and the Nintendo 64 game machines of yore.
And after all this time, the series has certainly gotten a spiffy, modern makeover. Development company Monster Games has given "Pilotwings Resort" the polished look and feel of newer titles like "Wii Sports" and "Wii Sports Resort." In fact, "Pilotwings Resort" takes players to the tropical island of Wuhu — the same island we visited in "Sports Resort."
For those who enjoy flights of fancy, "Pilotwings Resort" will be a very nice treat indeed. No, this is not one of those in-depth, true-to-life flight sims (this is a Nintendo game after all). This is simply a game that gives players the chance to soar through a three-dimensional cartoon world in a variety of aircraft and have fun while doing so.
When the game opens, you'll be given access to an airplane, a hang glider and a rocket belt (and you'll unlock more aircraft as you go).
If you head over to Mission Mode, your flight skills will be put to the test against a variety of challenges. For example, wearing the rocket belt you'll have to fly through a series of rings and then land on a bulls-eye-style pad with precision. While flying the airplane, you'll be asked to shoot at a series of passing targets. While flying the hang glider, you'll maneuver through updrafts and snap photos of specific sights around Wuhu Island.
As you play, you'll progress through higher levels — Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum — which put increasingly difficult challenges before you.
Meanwhile, in Free Flight Mode, you'll soar around the island hunting for rings, trophies and goodies. There is a time limit and you'll have to fly high and low, looking in all the nooks and crannies to find everything that's been secreted away. The challenge of trying to find it all is really quite addictive.
With windmills, woods and a volcano, exploring Wuhu Island in all its 3-D glory is quite impressive and, in many ways, the glasses-free 3-D effects are quite enjoyable. You really do feel like the 3DS' top screen opens up onto an expansive world. And that additional depth enhances the kind of airy, swooping feeling that you really want from a flight game. After all, we all want to know what it feels like to fly and anything that makes that sensation more real is a good thing.
That said, I also found the 3-D visuals to be, at times, distracting if not pushing toward nauseating.
I wouldn't say that I'm the kind of person who gets motion sickness very easily. A loop-de-loop on a roller coaster will certainly turn me an unattractive shade of green. But I can read books in cars and fly on airplanes without ever glancing at a barf bag.
However, keeping my head properly positioned in front of the 3DS while playing "Pilotwings Resort" was distractingly difficult at times. There's something about flight games that makes me want to sway with the motion of the action on the screen. And so every time I moved my head during, say, an intense moment of flight, I would find the 3-D pictures going blurry and my eyeballs going uncomfortably wonky. It was uncomfortable to the point that I found myself turning down the 3-D effect if not completely turning it off.
Of course, that's the nice thing about Nintendo's new device: It has a 3-D slider that lets you very easily adjust the amount of the 3-D effect — or turn it off — at a moment's notice.
As I played "Pilotwings Resort," I turned the 3-D on when I wanted a bit of eye-candy though, ultimately, found that I preferred playing the game in good ol' 2-D.
I readily admit this is a very personal preference. In-Game editor Todd Kenreck has spent a lot of time with the 3DS and he hasn't had a lick of trouble enjoying the 3-D visuals in the games he's reviewed.
The only additional negative I'd add is — it would have been nice if "Pilotwings Resort" included a multiplayer option of some kind. The competitive nature of the challenges and the game's nod toward "Wii Sports Resort" made me want to pit my airborne skills against those of my friends'. Alas, it's not to be.
Still though, "Pilotwings Resort" is a fun flight game — with or without the 3-D — and a worthy first buy for your new 3DS device.
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