Sunday, September 30

Review: Pilot Sports [Nintendo Switch eShop]

One of the great things about indie developers is that they’re able to deliver experiences akin to those in series that major publishers have let fall by the wayside. Pilotwings is one of quite a number of titles in Nintendo’s stable that they simply haven’t opted to release a new game for in a few generations. That’s where Pilot Sports comes in, obviously taking cues from that classic franchise and creating an experience that may not necessarily thrill but that has enough charm and generally mellow but challenging gameplay that it can be quite satisfying.

Your challenges will be split across 50 stages and will eventually challenge you to try to master 4 very different disciplines including an airplane, jetpack, hang-glider (technically there are 2 variants of these), and skydiving/parachuting. Each requires a different skillset and has their own challenges. Much like in the original Pilotwings you’ll have those that you enjoy more than others, in my case I probably disliked the hang-gliding the most but I’d imagine everyone will have their own tastes.

Each major set of levels includes 10 total stages and in order to unlock additional ones you’ll need to complete the majority of those you’ve unlocked with gold medal ranks. I really appreciate that this wasn’t made an all or nothing proposition since, as I’d said, mastering each style can be tricky and with you only needing to complete the majority of stages with gold it keeps your target goals to allow you to progress onto another tier more fair. While it all seems pretty simple in the beginning you will be challenged, and in most cases the margin for error in earning your gold medal is pretty narrow since a single missed gate will generally sink you. Even with the pressure of trying to improve and refine my runs the island setting and music, combined with the feeling of flight, really make this a mellow experience that’s quite soothing overall and added to the enjoyment greatly.

If you’ve got some friends around up to 4 people can play split-screen, though for the most part I got the most enjoyment out of taking on the stage challenges and pushing myself to get better times and scores to unlock more content. Though everything is roughly set in the same space you will get to see more and more of the island as you progress so at least the setting doesn’t generally get stale. While there are times when the presentation isn’t visually the best, with the details getting sparse or a bit last-gen when you slow down and pay close attention, at a distance and moving along it does look quite nice.

If you’ve been aching to soar in the skies Pilot Sports has done a commendable job of capturing the essence of the classic Pilotwings series and has brought it to the Switch. Each of the methods of flight you’ll get to enjoy have their own distinct feel and though the controls are relatively simple in principle you’ll still find earning your gold medals to get tricky, especially as you advance to the later stages. While it may be lacking in polish visually and doesn’t do anything groundbreaking it’s still a generally serene and enjoyable experience that can likely be enjoyed by just about anyone.

Score: 8

  • Though the controls are relatively simple there are nuances to them and the stages will push you to master them fully in order to earn your gold medals as you get further along
  • Unlocking additional stages requires a certain number of gold medals but never having all of them, leaving room for you to struggle with certain styles without being penalized too much
  • The setting and the music, mixed with the feeling of flying, generally make for a relaxing experience… though that isn’t to say you won’t get frustrated as well

  • In terms of presentation when you slow down or come to a stop the visuals can be a bit dated in places
  • While the islands you’ll fly around are nice it would have been nice to have more locales to explore
  • It’s inevitable with these varied styles of flying that one or two won’t appeal to everyone