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


  • sirdilznik - April 7, 2011 12:12 p.m.

    I haven't played Pilotwings yet but I can see your point Justin. I like many types of games but I'm a RPG junkie at heart. while some people rush to finish the main quest as quickly as possible, I always strive to complete as many side quests as possible, talk to all the different NPCs, read every book in the game I can get my hands on and learn the lore of the land. People wind up finishing games in 15 hours while I play that same exact game for 40+ hours. 23 hours certainly sounds respectable enough, though it pales in comparison to the 36+ hours I've already sunk into Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars and I've still got some campaign left plus I've yet to touch the skirmishes and challenges. I'll probably wind up sinking 80+ hours into it when all is said and done. Anyway it's good to hear about the length of Pilotwings since the reports of its brevity had me concerned.
  • zackotto - April 7, 2011 12:15 p.m.

    Your mii looks like me.
  • Baron164 - April 7, 2011 12:19 p.m.

    Not having an unlimited flight mode is a bummer. In Pilotwings 64 that was my favorite mode, just flying around the continent with the jetpack exploring every nook and cranny of that world. It's also why Pilotwings 64 is still my favorite iteration of that franchise.
  • HankVenture - April 7, 2011 12:30 p.m.

    I can't believe a Gamesradar Editor just told people they were playing the game wrong... Gotta say, one of the few times I disagree with Gamesradar, but I do understand the reasoning. I just don't think people should be told they are playing the game wrong, they are playing it the way they want to play so it can't be wrong, maybe just less satisfying. But I'm not here to betch.
  • SillyPigeon - April 7, 2011 12:40 p.m.

    I agree whole heartedly with this article. I've completed free flight mode and got 3 stars on every level except the diamond missions. Took me 13 glorious hours! It's a bit like people that say angry birds is to easy. Yeah getting 1 star is easy, getting 3 stars requires a lot of effort. Pilotwings is a beautiful experiance. Must buy if you have a 3DS.
  • SadFace - April 7, 2011 12:45 p.m.

    I hate blasting through a game, I take my sweet sweet time. Kudos, glad you enjoyed it.
  • therawski - April 7, 2011 1:23 p.m.

    This is the best 3ds launch title!
  • claytonmiller - April 7, 2011 1:31 p.m.

    I think it's worth mentioning that for each time (day, evening, night), a number of the information nodes have different descriptions (not sure how many). However, I would still love to have a PW:64 remake for the 3DS. PW:Resort just made me want to play that more than ever. I guess I could go back and try to get perfect on all the missions, but I'll have to wait until the schoolwork dies down a bit.
  • Redeater - April 7, 2011 1:37 p.m.

    I don't know why but for some reason I read (but Cundy's daughter 'accidentally' deleted) and expected it to be (but Cundy's 'daughter' accidentally deleted). Ah T'dar. That said I have to completely agree. Take Super Scribblenauts for example. I'm sure I could have blown through it in about an hour or two but I played every bit of that game and it was worth it. What would you rather do? Play great levels and having fun trying to perfect them? Or play terrible tacted on levels just for the sake of length?
  • Aletheon - April 7, 2011 1:42 p.m.

    I completely agree with this. Pilotwings has plenty of 'game' if you are playing it right. I know some gamers don't like to be told they are playing a game wrong, but truthfully, many of them do and then they make unfair complaints about the game and the vicious cycle continues.....
  • TheUsernameYouSelectedIsAvailable - April 7, 2011 2:06 p.m.

    Its a double edged sword though...I for one get very bored in open world games and have to actively push myself to get to the next story point and not get side tracked on crap, cos if I do and lose track / interest in the story I never get around to finishing it, which in my opinion is much more of a shame. Maybe its just cos as live commitments get more I cant justify dicking around for 15 hours looking for that rare marmot to hunt. So typically I concentrate on the story and see how the game grips me. If it did a good job then I will go back to it and clear up all the other stuff and really get stuck into the meat of it. If after the story it was meh, I move on. Maybe that guy thought pilot wings was not his cup of tea and not worth more of his time. Trophies and Achievement points are a big motivator to get the most out of your games and should be applauded.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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?
  • 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.
  • 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

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