Those magnificent men (and girls) in their flying machines...
Can there be a game with more of that crucial pick-up-and-play appeal than the dazzling Mario 64? Think about it. If you have ten minutes before you have to be somewhere, that kind of time isn't going to get you anywhere in Mario's world, is It? It usually takes way longer than that to complete a level, but not with PilotWings. Even if you dont make it, you can play through a full test from beginning to end within ten minutes. That is the reason for PilotWings being more friendly and less daunting. Nintendo themselves must have great faith in this title, if only because the Japanese and American launches of the N64 were accompanied by just two games: Mario 64 and PilotWings 64.
The challenges in PilotWings are set In the skies above four beautiful islands, flying in Hang Gliders and Gyrocopters or blasting around using the Rocket Belt. As Is the custom, farther weird and wonderful forms of flight become available with the completion of certain tasks, but most of your time will be spent In the air with one of the Initial three.
The idea is to graduate from the lowest classes for each vehicle to the top. In order to do this, you are set various tests which you must perform with each of the craft around the Islands, and these are usually simple things like flying through rings in the Gyrocopter, or photographing something while flying the Hang Glider. The differences In control between the Gyrocopter, Hang Glider and Rocket Belt are huge though, and each will take some considerable time to master.
Beginning with the Gyrocopter, the best way to learn to pilot it well Is to have a good concept of how it works. The little propeller at the rear Is what controls your forward speed, while the big propeller above the pilot acts more like the wing of a plane. The A button controls how much power goes to the back propeller, while the Control Stick moves the rudder and flaps at the back in full analogue beauty.
The innovative analogue pad that comes as standard with the N64 lends itself so well to flying this light aircraft, and after a little practice the degree of fluidity which you can achieve in flight is amazing. The limitless supply of onboard missiles are still available on levels without anything to shoot, so you can just fly around launching them at boats and buildings if it takes your fancy.
If you're in any doubt about the power of the Nintendo 64, just let your jaw hit the floor as you gaze at the scenery which passes slowly and smoothly below you during flight. There is simply no pixelation to be seen, and the ground only distorts slightly if you land and stare at it -not something you need to do.
Walking in the Air
The Hang Glider is powered in a very different way: just like the real thing, you have to depend on certain airflows to provide sufficient lift to keep you airborne. To make this possible in PilotWings 64, creator Paradigm has made circular columns of warm air visible on both your radar and in the playing environment, and you sail into these zones to lift the Hang Glider higher in the air before it starts to fall slowly and silently again. There is a whole different feel to piloting the Hang Glider as opposed to the Gyrocopter, particularly because there is no engine noise, and obviously you are flying at a greatly reduced rate. A more relaxed, peaceful tune plays as you fly too, and enhances the airy, floating sensation.
All you are ever required to do when flying the Hang Glider is guide it through rings or photograph something, sometimes both on the same level, and the aerial photography Is made simple for you. Just hold down the Z button and the red frame appears. When you let go of the button, whatever was visible at that time within the red border will be on your film. You get six pictures per test Scoring is awarded on how close your pictures are to what the message at the beginning of the test said was your aim. The most difficult part of the Hang Gliding experience however is landing the damn thing, and getting the perfect landing can be a real headache. More on this in our guide over the next few pages.
Control is as you would expect, but you need to take care not to make the glider lose altitude too quickly; as you can't be saved unless you can get to the next warm updraft. Gently banking by just moving the Control Stick a little off center, and turning shallow is the way to do it.
The most challenging way to fly Is with the Rocket Belt though. The control is like nothing you've ever experienced before, and you are bound to knock against a few buildings until your confidence increases. Moving the control stick left or right causes your pilot to rotate in that direction, and moving it up or down tilts the twin rockets forward or back. There are similar tests to the other vehicles In that you sometimes have to manoeuvre through the usual rings, but things can get far more dangerous with the Rocket Belt. For a start, the rings will often be situated in more confined areas, like between the buildings of a city, and the odd controls don't make it easy to avoid touching the ground every once in a while, and so scraping two points each time off of your final score. You even end up having to navigate your way through an underground tunnel that cuts through one of the islands, and it's the kind of journey that has your heart rate speeding and your hands sweating. On later levels you are required to push a huge ball around the scenery by bumping into it, trying to roll it towards the defined target elsewhere on the island, and for this you really need to master the quirky controls and learn to hover without using up too much fuel.
Birdman Of Alcatraz
The best asset which PilotWings 64 has is the immense freedom offered as you fly around these great landscapes, exploring the area for as long as there's fuel in the tank. A trip on the Little States island (a scaled down version of the USA as the name suggests) can keep you enthralled for long periods of time, buzzing such faithfully reproduced details as the Seattle Monument, the Statue of Liberty just off little New York, or the launching space shuttle at Cape Canaveral.
With moments of both total tranquility and frantic action, PilotWings 64 is an excellent game to accompany your new super console, and although it's pretty, prolonged playing has shown that it's not just a looker.
Flights Of Fancy
If you can find the right star hidden near the coast on one of the islands, you will be given the Blroman mode as an extra game! Fly around, exploring for an unlimited amount of time, not constrained any longer by things like fuel or even wind - just flap!
One of the more amusing bonus games included is the cannonball game. Pick a pilot, and fire him or her out of a huge cannon! The idea is to aim for the bullseye on the massive targets on each stage, but remember to allow for things like wind and gravity!
Due to their different sizes, each of the six characters react differently to your control they can be split up into small, medium and, well, fat.
Lark and Kiwi
Hang Guder: Because they're so small and light, they react sensitively to the control stick.
Rocket Belt: They are not so heavily affected by inertia and momentum as the others, but get blown around by the wind rather easily.
Gyrocopter: Their size doesn't bring them any real pros or cons on the gyro
Goose and Ibis
Hang Glider: Not so small as to have hypersensitive reactions, not big enough to be sluggish. somewhere in between.
Rocket Belt: As they're heavier, the wind doesn't affect them but they suffer from bad inertia.
Gyrocopter: The best pair for Gyrocopter missions, very easily manouvrable
Hawk and Robih
Hang Guoer: These chunky OVERFED pilots ARE slow to REACT on the Hang Glider. Go for Lark or Kiwi for these missions.
Rocket Belt: Having beefed up Rocket Belts to compensate, they have average performance and reactions.
Gyrocopter: Like the Hang Glider, they are fairly difficult to fly with because of their size. no more cookies.
The timer on the gyrocopter tests will not start until you start moving by pressing a, so there's no rush to start. The rudder will not actually move either until you leave the ground, so if you want to head somewhere immediately upon takeoff you can push the stick hard to one side as you accelerate along the runway without fear of just trundling onto the grass. This is often the best way to begin the metal horizon mission (test 2 in class b) where you are asked to destroy all the targets and land. the first targets are very close to the end of the runway and so you can often overshoot them straight away, using up valuable time having to fly back to try again.
whenever you are playing a mission that requires you to shoot something, either balloons, targets or meca hawk, it is advisable that you switch to the inside view (press r) to get the gyrocopter out of your field of vision while aiming.Because you have no sense of the size of your gyro when using the inside view you will probably find it much easier to make it through difficult spaces such as under bridges if you switch to the external view. As for landing, you simply don't want to attempt it without being able to see the wheels, especially as landing impact is one of the areas you are being assessed on. A rough landing with any of the vehicles can mean anything from losing a few points for landing accuracy and Landing impact to a bouncing spinning death.
To be honest, you're not going to pick up the nuances of the Rocket Belt as quickly as the Hang Guder and Gyrocopter, but stick with it. It's important to learn how to instinctively switch between the three types of power when it's required. Use the z button to come to a halt if you're headed for a building or mountain side too fast, but don't rely on it unless you have to - it burns fuel at an obscene rate, meaning you could be left quite literally high and dry. The b button is very handy too, being a softer, less fuel consuming version of the fiery a button type of propulsion. Use b to float through tight spaces, and the a button for travelling larger distances or to push you high in the air if your going to hit the ground and lose points.
Another tip for success in the Rocket Belt stages is to change the camera angles to get a better idea of how close you are to certain rings or hovering landing spots. press the c up button twice to get a view which is almost directly looking down on your character, and you'll find your accuracy increasing fairly sharply in these situations.
At take-off, try to keep from going too high on the meca Hawk levels. An altitude of about 30 meters (above the ground, not sea level) is about perfect for your attack. if you fly in too high, problems occur when you reach meca himself, like you will be forced to point the nose of the gyrocopter down towards the ground to get a decent shot at him, meaning you will be constantly risking a crash because you are hurtling at the ground so often. The Gyrocopter is generally happier and easier to control when it's levelled out anyway, so bear this in mind. Because he is so tall, if you fly level at around 30 meters above the ground your crosshair will be over him when you hold the z button, so you needn't worry about height, only banking left and right to get him in line. When you think you have a good shot at him, always remember to fire off two missiles as quickly as possible after one another. You'll be surprised how many times you can catch him twice using this technique before he yells and runs away. Getting two shots in on a single flyby will greatly reduce the amount of time you have to spend in the air too, so you can land much sooner and pick up those time points! The most ukely way to rapidly shoot meca twice or more is if you manage to come in behind him, bearing in mind that perfect 30 meters altitude, and shoot him in the back. when the first shot hits, he'll raise his arms and run away, but normally he'll run forwards, so the second missile should catch him too before he runs out of range.
Pilotwings 64 DownloadsPilotwings 64 download
Early N64 game where you fly various aircraft over well-detailed landscapes. Looks great, but it's all a bit slow and aimless.
A supreme example of how to harness the N64's immense potential. Up. up and away.
A game that splits the office to this day. One camp argues that the ability to more or less set your own agenda provides near-infinite replay value. The other camp maintains that there isn't any real objective and that you just waft about over pretty landscapes. Since a member of the latter group edits the mag, guess which viewpoint is represented here?
If you fly far enough out to sea from an island, after 15-30 seconds you will see the back of the island that you fust came from in front of you This is useful when you're short of fuel or time.