#183 Pilotwings

Posted: 24th August 2014 by Jeroen in Games
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358th played so far

Pilotwings_BoxGenre: Flight Simulator
Platform: SNES
Year of Release: 1990
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo

SNES fest! I do love obsessively playing a run of games from one console.

After Monkey Island, today we turn to Pilotwings. Again a game from my youth, although not as major as Monkey Island, I remember playing this at a friend’s house. It never played as big a role in my life, but its gameplay is still vaguely familiar, and I really remember its difficulty even now…

Our Thoughts

Pilotwings is not, in terms of looks or mechanics, a very complicated game. I’m not saying that it’s easy, but its simulations are mostly straight forward. The four modes, flying a light plane past certain goals, sky diving (reaching certain goals), a rocket belt (not realistic, but working as you’d expect) and hang gliding, all have similar mission structures and options while offering different enough controls to make them feel distinct.

Momentarily ignoring the lack of real life rocketbelts and the presumed danger posed by putting a skydiving landing pad in the centre of a lake, causing trouble if you miss your landing… the game does focus on getting the controls feeling accurate. Skydiving only lets you spin left and right, and do some tumbling that supposedly makes things different, but I believe mostly speeds you up or slows you down (something that matters more when you consider you are partially timed).

Your goal, at least initially, is to get high enough points on different levels using these different modes, based on speed, accuracy and (well…) surviving your task. This is not as simple as it sounds – while it’s initially fairly easy to land safely when ski diving – you’re told exactly when to deploy your parachute – just landing the plane requires a tricky balance of speed, angle and time to set down. Following the more complicated paths after that feel quite tough already. No wonder, from my perspective, that we had trouble getting through the first set of levels, the second felt near impossible already.

(That’s not true, I remember playing the hang glider level a long time ago. It’s just that situation again of how much time you dedicate to it)

The seriousness of the game shows in the graphics as well. They’re functional, not embellished much, giving you the bits of information you need. Boring perhaps, but befitting the serious simulation this tries to be.

Final Thoughts

A nice beginning to our SNESfest despite the fact that it is absurdly difficult to fly using a jet pack or (at times) to land a plane without going so fast that the wheels fly off. I actually like how the cartoon flight instructors look visibly sad when you are so inept during training.

We have two more games this SNESfest. Any guesses what they are going to be?