Pilotwings Resort isn't 2-3 hours long, it's 23 hours long. Stop playing it wrong

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


  • talleyXIV - December 14, 2011 12:42 p.m.

    If it sold for like $20 I would be really into it. When you are getting bored of Zelda you pop in Pilot Wings for a bit and fly around. Then go back to Zelda.
  • philipshaw - April 8, 2011 2:41 p.m.

    I can see his point but I'm not one for chasing high scores or trying to master a game so for me this game would be 2-3 hours and I would be done
  • Lionzest7 - April 8, 2011 3:36 a.m.

    I side with you on this, if only other people stopped buying up games and assuming they have to be 12 + hours to take on their time. Although something I don't fully agree with, because I don't think its that acceptable to have to spend 40-60$ on something that gyps you. If you're not really interested. I'd say it kind of sucks though if you're totally uninterested after beating it, it kind of sucks to be only 2-3 hours in actual length.
  • BrokenCartridge - April 8, 2011 2:47 a.m.

    I don't necessarily agree or disagree with you completely, but you shouldn't have to be a perfectionist in order to get gameplay time for any game. It took me 2 hours to get 3 stars on every mission and I have absolutely no intention on going back to get a perfect on every mission. Why? Because that wouldn't be fun for me. I don't see the point in doing that, and the free flight mode, which I tried after completion of the game, got boring for me after I played it for 30 minutes...I flew around the island and collected some stuff with different vehicles, and it was neat the first couple of rounds of it....but the novelty quickly wore off for me. Ok, I explored this island I get it. Sure you may say that I'm "playing it wrong" by not getting a perfect score on everything or by not exploring every nook and cranny that Wuhu Island has to offer, but I say if it isn't fun to do all that, for me, then why play it that way to begin with? I gave the game a decent shot, I didn't plow through the courses, I got 3 Stars on every mission, yet it still failed to deliver an experience that lasted over 2 hours. The game lacks content for anyone who isn't going to go for the "perfect" score.
  • ViolentLee - April 7, 2011 11:43 p.m.

    I disagree that a game is "beaten" when someone accomplishes the bare minimum. At the same time, I disagree that one needs to get 100% to consider a game "beaten." There are very few games I'd consider having received 100% on -- Zelda: Minish Cap, Shadow Complex, Super Mario World, and Super Metroid come to mind.
  • Floolf - April 7, 2011 10:54 p.m.

    How come your eyes and head havent exploded from all the hours you've spent on 3ds :D /sarcasm On a serious note I have a 3ds and it's probably the best thing I've bought in ages! On topic I might sell street fighter and get this instead looks good! Been playin Mario 64 ds on 3ds with that beautiful circle pad - it's aces!!
  • shawksta - April 7, 2011 10:40 p.m.

    Totally agree
  • LBD_Nytetrayn - April 7, 2011 8:23 p.m.

    I agree with the article, in that you certainly need to play with certain goals in mind beyond mere "completion" to get the most out of the game.
  • jalbers - April 7, 2011 6:59 p.m.

    Thanks for posting this. After hearing everyone talk about how quick it was to finish the game I was beginning to think my coordination was handicapped.
  • Spybreak8 - April 7, 2011 6:25 p.m.

    So basically relate it to Peggle, a game you could beat almost in one sitting but takes long to master.
  • Scoob - April 7, 2011 6:10 p.m.

    @GRMatt: Pretty much took the words out of my mouth. Everybody who says Justin is wrong is wrong. And I ask them this: How do you approach fighting games? Sports games? Do you pick your one character/team, play through the game in 15 minutes and put it down? Pilotwings is about the time trials and such, and perfecting them. Maybe the market isn't into this kind of product anymore. With games being as cheap as they are, and titles as numerous as they are, there really isn't much time to master a game like many of us gamers have in the 80s and 90s.
  • ultimatepunchrod - April 7, 2011 5:37 p.m.

    seriously? after all the shit GDAR gives devs for saying, "youre playing it wrong." you post an article like this? lol
  • GamesRadarMatthewKeast - April 7, 2011 5:35 p.m.

    Comparing Pilotwings to RPGs or games like GTA doesn't really work. A game like Pilotwings is clearly designed for repeat play - the genre alone is known for this, so when someone buys this game there's the understanding that it's meant to be replayed. It's not at all the same thing as a true story-based game.
  • garnsr - April 7, 2011 4:23 p.m.

    How much time does it take if you can do everything perfectly the first time? Is having to repeat things the only reason it's 30 hours? I don't think calling the amount of time you "could" spend with a game an accurate amount to give as game length. You can grind till the end of time in many RPGs, does that mean game time is infinite?
  • JBizFoShiz - April 7, 2011 4:18 p.m.

    "playing it wrong" seems to have irked some people. i'd liken the phrase to "not appreciating the things the game has to offer". sure, i COULD blast through GTA IV (hell, one of the trophies/achievements IS to do that), but what about all of the side missions? man dates? girl dates? watching katt williams and ricky gervais? i could go on and on. it's a shame that this "must beat game!" mentality is quite prevalent...but as somebody who dabbles in it, i won't judge against it.
  • Redeater - April 7, 2011 4:11 p.m.

    @ GrandHarrier Gaming is pretty subjective. Just because you think trials are "artificial doesn't mean they aren't worth playing. I would not piss away 100+ hours on a game like Persona when I could be playing Red Dead, Bulletstorm or Mario Galaxy.
  • GrandHarrier - April 7, 2011 3:28 p.m.

    Artificial game length is artificial. Sorry Justin, when I can sit down and put 100+ hours into something like Persona 3 or 4 I'm not going to pay money for something like this.
  • n00b - April 7, 2011 2:43 p.m.

    this is just like bayonetta i beat the game in 7 hours but my clock is at 50+ hours now and counting. still trying to get them pure platinum
  • Darkhawk - April 7, 2011 2:35 p.m.

    Totally disagree. I realise it's up to personal preference, but I am sick of games artificially extending play times through quests for perfect scores, item collection, and the like. Don't get me wrong: I can appreciate the excitement of adventuring through the Pilotwings world, but in all honesty Sky Odyssey did the same thing back on PS2 without resorting to repetitive missions. Give me a one-off playthrough, start to finish. Unless the incentives for perfection are REALLY high (i.e. unlocking the original Pilotwings), I'm not going to go further than beating the "regular" game. reCaptcha: Yeah, so the first reCaptcha had the sign for "Pi" in it. Um, that's not fair.
  • EsotericFerret - April 7, 2011 2:08 p.m.

    Though I agree with you Justin that people should really just sit back and enjoy the games that they own, I have to say that not everyone is interested in getting the highest rating on their games, which typically means replaying the same levels over and over and over again. Not everyone is good enough to be a Guinness World Record holder like someone I could mention.

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