If you're bored, if you're REALLY bored, take flight
Pilot Wings isn't so much a game as it is a mediocre showcase for the fabulous graphics capability of the Nintendo 64 machine. Sure, if you already know how to fly a helicopter or maneuver a hand glider, you may want to test your skills in the comfort and safety of your own home. But if you're looking for a game with a point or a plot, keep looking.
There are three vehicles to choose from in Pilot Wings: hang glider; rocket belt; and gyrocopter. And to keep things interesting, you can also choose between six pilots, who all have different skill sets with each vehicle. Once you choose your vehicle and the pilot, you can fly around different islands, see the sights, try to hit the few other people you may see, for extra fun. There isn't much else to do. The 'flight tests' include such challenges as: hit the balloon, go through the rings, touch the balls, land nicely, etc. If you find yourself in the middle of the ocean, there is a map to help you find the island again. And after you've mastered each flight test, if you're still bored, you can try your hand at sky diving or being shot out of a cannon.
The folks at Nintendo tried to make this game as close to the real things as they could, without making it too complicated. Each vehicle is affected by inertia, winds, speed and direction. The hang glider is probably the most difficult because you have to keep in mind how your altitude will plummet if you turn too quickly, ascension versus the descention when moving the tail, head towards the thermal current, raise your nose, not that fast!.......AAAHHH! Needless to say, my face met the side of the mountain many times. And after you crash, you can see an instant replay of your demise. Cool.
I had the most fun with the rocket belt. The belt straps around the pilot's waist and has two powerful rockets on either side. After I got over my initial fear that my pilot's feet were being burned off by the rocket fire, I blasted up and away. You can go pretty high too, up to about 670 meters, but there's nothing up there, and it just wastes your fuel. The point (the only real point) of all of these test flights is to land smoothly on a big bull's eye target on the island. With the rocket belt, if you pump the throttle as you're landing, it gives you a smoother descent, and the pilot will nod his/her head in approval while your scores come up.
The gyrocopter is also 'fun' because you can fire missiles. Blow away the castle, blow one into the water, be dazzled by the graphics, and that's about it. If you fire one into the surface you're about to crash into, you completely obliterate yourself, which makes for a cool playback. One small note, it takes forever to get this copter to make a complete turn around, something about inertia, ( high school physics class does come in handy! ) so try not to fly too far past the island. There isn't anything out there anyway.
Overall, there's not much to this game, if you can call it a game. Nintendo had to release something, anything to be plugged into it's fabulous new machine, and they gave us Pilot Wings 64. Now that more games are being released for the N64, I recommend waiting for one that's worth the shelf space.