Does this launch title soar or crash?
Pilotwings Resort is, at its base, a wonderful showpiece for the 3DS. The graphics pop almost literally, and the 3D actually affects the gameplay in subtle ways, giving you a wondrous sense of depth. In more detail, Pilotwings Resort is a playful flight simulation focused on exploration and high score chasing that, while a little on the short side, is a full-featured quality launch title.
Technically, this is the newest Pilotwings game since the launch of the Nintendo 64, but this title is more of a sequel to Wii Sports Resort, as it features the same locale and graphical style as the Wii MotionPlus showcase title. It takes the Air Sports segment of the game and turns it into a full experience, with two main modes: Mission and Free Flight. Consisting of more than 30 stages, the Mission mode allows you to utilize three types of vehicles. Free Flight lets you take those vehicles out for a leisurely spin in two or more minute runs while you collect various trinkets to unlock throwaway content.
The three vehicles all control differently, and feature a few variations. The plane controls simply, with automatic acceleration, a boost, and a brake. The rocket belt, a known commodity to Pilotwings veterans, is trickier to control, requiring players to angle the jet pack's thrusters to propel their character. However, it is a fun challenge, especially since you can make use of the 3D to accurately see where you're moving. The third vehicle, the hang glider, is based around hitting pockets of hot air that elevate you, and then using the gained altitude wisely to complete goals. Each vehicle features a variation, including the jet plane, the skydiving squirrel suit, and the pedal glider.
The missions are varied, and none of them feel repetitive. While the number of missions might be low, there isn't a lot of fluff, making Pilotwings Resort's missions a focused experience. It gets very difficult in the final stages, and the quest for the perfect run in each mission is alluring.
Free Flight takes the structure of the missions and throws it out the window. Instead, completionists can rejoice as each vehicle has its own specific set of items to discover on Wuhu Island. The information points that served as the crux of Wii Sports Resort's Air Sports section return, and some of them are humorously updated to reflect the passage of time since the prior game.
The world, while a little less active than it was on Wii, is lovely to look at, especially when you throw in the beautiful particle effects that are bolstered by the 3D. It's one of the first games that has made me enjoy a lens flare because of how it looks on the 3D screen. The sound is equal parts gentle and intense, ramping up for more difficult missions and slowing down for Free Flight.
If you enjoyed the other Pilotwings titles and/or Air Sports in Wii Sports Resort, then Pilotwings Resort is right for you. The subtle ways that the 3D affects the gameplay, combined with the excellent controls and mission variety, makes for a great experience.