The day after 3DS went on sale in the UK, I managed to pick up a second hand copy of Pilotwings Resort. The shop assistant told me that the guy who had bought it on launch day came back the next morning to say he had 'finished it'. I'd also read many reviews saying the same thing: Pilotwings Resort is great, but it's 2-3 hours long. I have to disagree. Not only do I class it as one of my favourite games of the year, I've only just finished it properly. And it's 23 hours long. So what gives?
The problem is that a lot of gamers seem to be overtaken by a Pac-Man-esque appetite for games consumption. Must see credits as soon as possible! Bam! Done. Next game. Pilotwings' initial length is but a single pellet in the maze of handheld games (note to self: this analogy's going well), but just try stopping to chew once in a while and you'll realise it's a very tasty treat.
You see, Pilotwings isn't about completing the missions in order and watching the credits roll. It's about getting perfect scores on every one of those missions. And I don't mean three stars - I mean literally perfect scores. It's hard enough on the first few tiers with the landings so easy to fluff, but the latter stages' designs offer some wonderfully hardcore gaming. But crucially, none of them are impossible. The three-minute challenge is a bit cheap, but even that's doable.
Above: Getting through the left image takes 2-3 hours. Achieving the right takes 23 hours. Short game? No
And in case you don't believe in high scores alone, consider the 5 hours of game time that you'll need to find every last balloon, information panel, golden hoop and stunt ring in Free Flight mode. I agree, that sounds incredibly dull, but the excitement of a treasure hunt and the challenge of doing all that without resorting to an FAQ (which would have spoiled it completely) kept me absolutely hooked. Combine the two modes and suddenly it's the most-played game on my 3DS to date, despite my online Sakura addiction:
Above: I would have played Rayman 3D more, but Cundy's daughter 'accidentally' deleted my save game. Grrrr
Now that I've finished Pilotwings, I admit I probably won't come back too often, unless its high score potential grabs me... in which case I might still be playing it years from now. I wholly agree with Brett's points in his review. The game could have done with more new content. It could have done with more modes and an unlimited Free Flight mode to simply explore and enjoy flying around for the hell of it. But there's more length and enjoyment in it than several big-name PS3 and 360 releases I could mention and it needs to be said.
Above: Why would anyone want this halcyon day to end as soon as possible?
Take your time with your games. Savour them. Pilotwings Resort is an absolute gem of a game and plenty long enough to justify its price. Don't let anyone else tell you otherwise - they're not playing it properly and they need to take a long, hard look at why they actually play games at all. Single day trade-in man, I'm looking at you.
07 Apr, 2011