Pilotwings 64 is an arcade-style flight simulator released for the Nintendo 64 in 1996. It is the sequel to the classic SNES game, Pilotwings. The game was designed by Nintendo and developed by Texas-based Paradigm Simulation (later to become Paradigm Entertainment).
The game is broken down into four different classes, each with three rounds, and the aim is to play as one of six different characters trying to earn pilot licenses by completing various different aviation-based tests. You score points for things you do right, and lose points for things you do wrong, and must score a certain number of points to earn bronze/silver/gold badges to pass. When you’ve completed one class you then move to the next one up, and also unlock extra games for the classes you successfully complete (the extra games are mostly free flight missions where you can take photos as you fly around, and you can view/edit your photos from the main menu).
The early flight tests revolve around a hang glider, a rocket pack, and a gyrocopter, and get more complicated and difficult as the classes increase. Initially you must fly through rings to complete a course, and later you must take photos of certain landmarks to pass. The flight path through the rings gets progressively more difficult as the missions increase so you must use the game’s in-built map feature to plan your route. If you hit any buildings or touch the ground you automatically lose points. The quicker you complete a test the more points you get, although there are a number of criteria on which you’re judged. When you land and finish a test you’re shown your points total based on this criteria.
Pilotwings 64 is a typically fun Nintendo game that emphasises ease of play over absolute realism and will appeal to anyone who likes the idea of simulated flight but doesn’t want to be burdened by hardcore physics and over-complicated controls. That’s not to say that Pilotwings 64 is an easy game to master – sure: it starts off easy, but quickly becomes pretty challenging. You do have to put some practise in to pass later courses and win those gold medals. It’s a fitting sequel to Pilotwings and a classic N64 game, though.