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Pilotwings: What Did Critics Say in 1991?
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on April 16, 2014   |   Episode 30 (Show Archive)  


Pilotwings (Super NES)
Ever wonder what Electronic Gaming Monthly, GamePro and other popular magazines thought of your favorite 8-, 16- and 32-bit games? Now you can find out, thanks to Review Crew! This is the only show on the internet that is willing to go back in time to find out what old school critics thought of retro games at the time. Did they pan your favorite game? Did they love something terrible? Find out every week as Defunct Games presents Review Crew!

If you're going to launch a system, you better have games that show off its power. Pilotwings was Nintendo's secret weapon for the 16-bit Super NES. It did what the Genesis couldn't, creating a realistic 3D environment with impressive scaling and rotating effects. With airplanes, jetpacks, parachutes and more, Pilotwings was a sight to behold in 1991. But what did Electronic Gaming Monthly, GamePro, Super Play, Nintendo Power and other classic magazines think of this tech demo when it first came out? We dig through these old magazines to find the answer!

(NOTE: Although we occasionally cut for length, no other edits are made to the review. Defunct Games does not change any of the wording, grammar or punctuation use. Also keep in mind that our score is the average of all critics at the time, not just the sample that is reprinted on this page. If you still have more questions, I recommend you check out the Review Crew FAQ, where we address the review guidelines, converting scores, magazine covers and more.)

[ Company: Nintendo | Console: Super NES ]

GAMEPRO (January 1992)
5 out of 5

"Are you ready to take off with Pilotwings? The unusual flight simulator from Nintendo takes full advantage of the Super Nintendo's ability to rotate on-screen images 360 degrees. Gorgeous graphics bring each of the game's eight levels to breathtaking life (hope you don't suffer from vertigo). Care to soar through the air with the greatest of ease? If so, Pilotwings may give you just the life you've been looking for." -Andromeda

96% out of 100%

"The graphics on this high-flying airborne extravaganza are amazing! It's like having an arcade machine in your own home. The 3-D effects are beyond spectacular, they're incredible! For those who've always dreamed of taking to the skies but haven't got a head for heights, here's your chance! The only weakness is the sound, but for Biggles' sake it's a flying sim, who needs jazzy music?! What can I say, this cart will change your life!" -Ace

92% out of 100%

"Pilotwings certainly isn't the last word in flight simulators, but then it's not trying to be. The mixture of different styles and passwords mean you'll never get cross with it. This is a truly original game and a thoroughly good buy. It's got all the qualities to keep you playing -- and looks good enough to convert just about anybody to SNES-dom."

90% out of 100%

"Take a trip to the Pilotwings academy for advanced flying in this visually stunning game. Hang-gliding, jet-packing, parachuting and playing-flying are all here to be enjoyed. Although the novelty does wear off after a while, Pilotwings still ranks as a highly playable, exquisite game."

8 out of 10

"Pilot Wings [sic] is a cool show-off game for the Super Nintendo's new Mode 7 scaling and rotational capabilities. The challenge is high, and it even has a touch of humor! Try landing without opening your parachute! Hilarious! I hope Nintendo makes a sequel to this one." -Sushi X

3.8 out of 5

"Nintendo's Super NES flight-action game combines flying challenges from parachutes to airplanes, but the most impressive part of the game is how the graphics rotate and scale to give a very real feeling of flight. Pilotwings boasts some of the best graphics and play control of any Super NES game and showcases the potential of the system's special features such as scaling and rotation."

7 out of 10

"Yes, it looks good, and it does things no other home game has ever been able to do but, when it gets down to it, the actual game is rather thin. I tired of the gee-whiz scaling and rotation after the first hour and then started looking for the challenge, which never appeared." -Ed

Best SNES Simulation

"The problem here, perhaps, is that simulations are pretty thin on the ground so far as the Super Nintendo is concerned. There's only really Pilotwings (and Sim City, maybe) -- but there're so good we don't need any others."
REVIEW CREW AVERAGE: 84% - Two decades ago, Pilotwings was a real showstopper. It was the tech demo to end all tech demos, signaling a new generation of 16-bit games from Nintendo. With its impressive scaling and rotation effects, this Super NES launch game wowed critics in both the United States and Europe. Critics were impressed with the game's sharp visuals and real sense of heights, leading GamePro to worry that some of their readers may suffer from vertigo while playing Pilotwings.

On the other hand, even some of the top scoring critics suggested that the novelty wears off quickly. This didn't seem to hurt most the scores, but there were a few writers who didn't get caught up in the excitement. Electronic Gaming Monthly's Ed Semrad complained that the game was too easy, while Nintendo Power gave the game a 3.8 without saying a bad word about the product. Lower scores aside, Pilotwings did manage to win over most of the critics. Hell, it even won Super Play's Best SNES Simulation award, beating out even Sim City. Wait ... WHAT?!?



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