Review by Pyro Vesten

"Though not for everyone, Pilotwings 64 delivers an awesome flying experience."

Introduction
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Pilotwings 64 is the upgrade/sequel to one of the Super Nintendo’s very first games, and also not very well know games, Pilotwings.

Pilotwings 64 didn’t really receive much mainstream attention just like it’s predecessor but I’m here to tell you it should of.

Gameplay
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The main idea of Pilotwings is to fly. There is more to it than that, but I’ll get into that a bit later down the track.

You’ll start off able to play missions with three different craft, the Hanglider, Rocket Belt and the Gyrocopter. There are four different missions for you to complete with each of the craft. These missions, story wise are training missions, at an elite flight school. You’ll have to complete every single one to eventually become the ultimate master of all craft at the school.

You can choose to fly as one of six unique and different characters. Some will be better than others at certain craft etc, so you’ll have to play around a bit and see who is best for what.

The initial missions will be rather easy, but as you progress, you’ll be met with more difficult objectives to complete.

Missions are judged on a points based system. You will be judged on you landing accuracy and impact, time taken, as well as level specific objectives, and then, awarded a bronze, silver or gold medal. If you are good enough you can even get perfect points on each level.

A few examples of some of the mission objectives would be flying through a set number of rings, taking a photo of a landmark, bursting a number of balloons in the air etc.

Pilotwings is just so fun and relaxing though, that often you will ignore the mission objectives and just fly around for the sake of exploring the breathtaking levels, and scenery.

Each of the different craft handle extremely differently. The hanglider, as expected doesn’t have any engines, and will have to rely on your flying skills and expertise to get you where you need to be, of course the odd wind draft will increase your altitude if you fly through one. The Rocket Belt, is basically a jet pack. It has very accurate control, both vertically, and horizontally. The Gyrocopter is very, very fast, so again, you’ll have to know what you are doing, and steer wisely.

Of course, the Rocket belt and Gyrocopter runs on fuel, and you’ll need to be conscious of this throughout your missions.

When you’ve progressed a bit through the single player missions you will unlock bonus missions, and there are a crap load of them. I don’t want to spoil too much for you, but I will say that birdman is an awesome mode, where your character straps on wings, and can fly…. Also, you’re able to be a human cannonball.

With a mix of great objectives for you to complete over three main craft, as well as the loads of bonus missions, Pilotwings is a fun, relaxing and all out excellent game to play. Nintendo have really captured the flying experience, and transferred it seemlesly onto a console. Well done!

9.1/10

Graphics
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Being one of the Nintendo 64’s first two games, Pilotwings at the time was one of the best two looking games to date.

Your jaw will drop when you first play this, well better make that, my jaw dropped when I first played it. Today (2001) it doesn’t quite have that same effect.

The levels are amazingly big, and on some of the bigger levels there is the tiniest amount of pop-up, the sheer size of the levels impress.

Texture wise, Pilotwings 64 looks pretty good, you can be 100’s of meters above the island you are flying over and see it quite clearly, or fly just meters over the top of a house of field and still see nice textures.

The frame-rate remains solid throughout the game, which is pretty essential to keep the fantasy seeming so real.

In your journeys you’ll notice some of the games finer details, including other people flying about the place, as well as some other things like clouds rushing past you at great speeds.

When it was first released, Pilotwings was jaw dropping, and today still looks pretty sweet, but when compared to some of the Nintendo 64’s finer graphical efforts, it leaves a tiny bit to be desired.

8.7/10

Sound
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Pilotwings doesn’t feature a great lot of sound effects, but the ones you do hear are reasonable. The missles being fired sound right, the wind gushing past you sounds great and all that.
Some of the sound effects leave a bit to be desired, such as the sound of crashing.

The music on the other hand, I really like. It is very relaxing, soothing and well, good. I suppose not everyone will like it, but the way that it has been applied to the game works great, as it just enhances the flying experience further.

8.9/10

Multiplayer
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It’s unfortunate that Pilotwings didn’t have some kind of multiplayer mode, but then again I don’t know how exactly a multiplayer mode would have been implemented really. Unless perhaps you and a friend took it in turns playing levels for the highest score….. but you can do that anyway :)

N/A

Originality
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I’ve gotta say, Pilotwings is up there as one of the most original games you’ll play. Sure, there are loads or flight simulators, but all you ever fly in them is aeroplanes. Nintendo took a nice genre, added it’s own touch, threw in three uncommon craft (not to mention the bonus ones) and created one of the most original, and fun flying experiences ever. The only thing better would be the real deal, but you can’t exactly go hire a jet pack for the weekend, and I don’t think many of us will be able to afford to fly a gyrocopter, and I strongly doubt that many of you will be able to find a pair of wings you can strap on and fly like a bird with.

9.9/10

Controls
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At first, you will find it very hard to control the hanglider, but after time you’ll be flying like a pro. All of the other craft are fairly easy to fly, but will take some time to master. And of course, each of the different craft control very differently, and as they should.
The controls are also tight and responsive, which is always a good thing :P

8.7/10

Replayability
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It will take you quite a while to get gold medals on all levels, and once you’ve done that there is the added challenge of trying to get perfect points on every single level. But the thing that will really keep you playing after you’ve completed all that you can, mission wise, is the fact that the game is just fin to play. I can spend hours just flying around aimlessly, for no reason other than I just enjoy playing the game.

8.6/10

Difficulty
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Pilotwings caters for everyone in this area. The first few missions are easy to get gold medals on, but as you progress, you’ll have a pretty hard time completing some of the missions with even a bronze medal. And for the people who find the game easy, there is the added challenge of getting perfect scores on each of the levels, which is really hard in anyone’s books.

Load Times
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There are no load times whatsoever in Pilotwings 64, which is to be expected, considering it is running on a cartridge based console.

Pros
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(_) Pilotwings delivers a truly awesome flying experience, in all cases (Hanglider, Gyrocopter, Jet pack and Birdman).
(_) The Gyrocopter carries missiles!
(_) Pilotwings is a breathtakingly, peaceful and relaxing game.
(_) You can fly around for hours, aimlessly just because the game is so fun to play.

Cons
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(_) Pilotwings isn’t for everyone.

Buy/rent
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Rent first. I personally love Pilotwings, but the game isn’t for everybody. Rent it and see how you like it, and if you do like it then grab a copy. Because the game is so old now I’m sure you’ll be able to pick it up fairly cheaply second-hand as well.

Overall
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Pilotwings is a great game. Wether you are generally into flying games or not, Pilotwings will deliver a very fun and rewarding experience. It’s not for everyone, but I’m sure that most people will love it as much as I do.

Overall
9.1/10
(Rounded to 9/10 for GameFAQs)


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 08/27/01, Updated 08/27/01


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