By Andrew Liszewski
The Super Nintendo entered my life on a Christmas morning many, many years ago, and besides the Game Boy, it was the first real gaming console I owned. And while the SNES came with the most excellent Super Mario World, I wanted another game to play during the Christmas holidays, and that turned out to be Pilotwings. Even as a kid I was quite an aviation enthusiast, and even though Pilotwings leaned more towards being an arcade title than an actual flight simulator, it was still quite challenging and entertaining. The game relied heavily on the Super Nintendo’s ‘Mode 7’ graphics capabilities, and while the ground looked pretty fake up-close, while in the air the pseudo-3D effect was quite convincing.
The game allowed you to fly various ‘aircraft’ including a light plane, hang glider and a helicopter (in a bonus mission) and even included a few skydiving missions where it was often more fun to not pull the parachute cord. But for my money the rocket belt levels were easily the best. The controls allowed for left and right yaw rotation while your character would lean forward and back to control his speed. All of the game’s levels required you to fly (or fall) through a series of floating rings and then land on or hit a target for the best score. While landing on a moving target was definitely the most difficult task, the rocket belt levels also provided an overhead view which occasionally made things a bit easier. (Not always though.) The game was eventually followed by Pilotwings 64 on the N64, but to be honest the new version never really had the same appeal to me as the SNES one did. However, I’m hopeful that Nintendo will eventually revive the franchise for the Wii.