Nostalgia is a huge marketing tool. Hollywood is the worst offender at the moment, but gaming isn’t far behind. Nintendo has cashed in on the same recognizable franchises for decades now, yet ignores Pilotwings.
Kirby, Yoshi and even Bomberman get new games, but a franchise that helped launch both the SNES and N64 has been left behind.
Maybe if Pilotwings had a cute mascot with puppy-dog eyes and a cuddly body it could have stuck around. Pilotwings is missing the iconic personality of a star. Even the gameplay – consisting of multiple mini-games – lacks a singular identity to latch on to. Mario jumps, Kirby sucks, Yoshi swallows, but not even all the Pilots wing.
I can justify why Pilotwings hasn’t stuck to the gaming zeitgeist, but there are so many reasons why I wish it would come back.
As much as I hate Wii-motion controls, a Pilotwings collection of games would have been perfect. How about the Wii U tablet as a control panel filled with gauges and fun buttons!
Pilotwings has always been about showcasing game tech. Navigating 16-bit versions of 3D spaces on the SNES felt like a huge leap forward. The N64 version fully realized the 3D dream and felt fantastic. It was important enough to be one of only two launch games for the Ultra 64, alongside plumber boy.
The Music – Please listen to Birdman while reading
Wow, what a track. In an interview with Nintendo Life, Pilotwings 64 composer Dan Hess told the story of creating the smooth funk of ‘Birdman‘.
“I don’t know how many tunes I actually wrote in an attempt to appease Wada-san’s need for a “floaty-fluffy”, but I think 20 would be a conservative estimate.”
“ I would write a few tunes, work them up and present them to Wada-san who would give me some kind of puzzled look, smile and shake his head every time. This grew increasingly frustrating and became my main focus.”
During the crunch period, the team was expanded and moved into lockdown, with full catering to encourage employees to never leave.
Hess moved into the Chief Programmer’s office and often shared ideas.
“One day, I was playing around with various feels and grooves, searching for the Birdman track when a tune began to form in my head and I quickly worked it up…I was slap happy by this time, just creating for the sake of creating. At one point, I threw it up on the speakers for Mike to hear with a smile and we both got a kick out of it. At that very moment, Wada-san happened to be walking down the hall just outside of Mike’s office. He stood in the doorway and listened for a moment, a grin growing on his face and began jumping up and down and flapping his arms!”
Pilotwings Resort was a launch title for the 3DS in 2011, and even re-released as a downloadable eShop item the following year.
I agree it’s an excellent game to have on a handheld system.
When I buy my Switch for Mario Odyssey, I would really love to grab a new version of Pilotwings alongside it, just like old times.