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GoNintendo "End of day" thoughts - Wing Island impressions

Compared to the last few days, I finished up kind of early today! No headache this morning, that’s good too. Want to give you guys a little reminder. Today is the last day for our Goin Bananas contest! I will give it a big bump later today, but for now you can check out all the info HERE. We have lots of great submissions, but you still have a chance! I will catch you guys in a few hours with Tuesday morning updates. Have a great morning everyone!

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No matter what the reviewers said, I held out hope for Wing Island. I don’t know why, but for some reason I thought the game wouldn’t be as bad as we heard. I’ve liked plenty of Hudson games before. I have also found more enjoyment in titles that most reviewers didn’t score well. Previous to playing Wing Island, I had spent a few hours with Kororinpa. Most outlets were giving this game a mediocre score, but I was having a lot more fun with it than I expected. This raised my hopes for Wing Island. I was going to give the game a try and see what I got from it. Flying airplanes in a nice laid back setting sounded like it could be fun. It seemed like Wing Island was striving for the same type of zen atmosphere you get from Pilot Wings. You cruise around through the air, pleasant music plays, and you have simple goals to achieve. These are some of the things I was hoping for as I popped Wing Island into my Wii. What I came to find out in about an hour’s worth of play was that Wing Island had none of the charm of Pilot Wings, and little to nothing that would hold your interest.

Wing Island doesn’t really make much sense from the beginning. You will be playing as a pilot that is some sort of bird. Perhaps I am asking too much of the title when I pick apart the story, but it’s such a flaw from the start that it has to be mentioned. If I am a bird, why on earth do I need to fly around in an airplane? Yes, it’s true that you have to deliver packages and many other goodies, but most of these jobs could be accomplished by the bird itself. I feel silly arguing the point, but it’s something that bugged me the entire time I played the game. With all these birds as pilots, you think they would save themselves the money and fly in a pack to get these jobs done!

The other issue with the story is that there is a lot of it. I normally have no problem with long storylines in games, I actually really enjoy that. The problem is that absolutely nothing happens in Wing Island to make a story about. You are a bird; you deliver packages, and complete other random tasks…that’s about it. This is just one of many instances where Wing Island should have taken a cue from Pilot Wings. Not every game needs to have a story to be enjoyable. The characters drone on and on about the work that needs to be done, with you waiting endlessly to actually start gameplay. I am sure at one point you will find yourself skipping tons of text just to get to the missions. It’s hard to care about a story when one doesn’t really exist in the first place.

As far as missions go, there is some variety in what you do. Early on in the game you will be delivering boxes, hunting down cows, putting out fires, popping balloons and more. At first I believed that some missions provided more entertainment than others. The cow hunting for instance does somewhat resemble a Pilot Wings mission. You have a time limit, and are left to roam about the island to hunt down cows. Once you find one, you press A to trap them in some sort of giant net/web thing. On the other hand, putting out fires is a pain in the butt. You have to keep covering the same area over and over again, swooping back and forth to drop retardant. Each time you make a pass you feel as if you aren’t actually getting anything done. It’s hard to tell if you put out a fire or not. The only real hint you have is your radar, which will show you how many fires you have to put out. As I continued through the game, I started to realize that none of the missions were fun. Why was I enjoying cow hunting more than the fire missions then?

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It all comes down to freedom within the level. As I mentioned, putting out fires keeps you limited to a specific area. Cow hunting opens up the entire island to exploration. The fun wasn’t actually in the missions themselves, but the area you are allowed to cover. Flying around the island is actually fun. There’s a lot of island to explore at first, which makes it fun to fly around and check out the scenery. You can dip down into mountain paths, fly around the backside of the island, and soar over the valleys below. The exploration aspect can really keep you entertained for a bit, but the time limit from your missions hampers it. It’s hard to say how Wing Island could have gone in a better route though. Exploration is a lot of fun, but you do have to have some sort of mission. I guess that is why I liked Pilot Wings 64 so much. You are given a time limit, but the focus of a lot of the missions is exploration. Find the rings to fly through to complete a level, take pictures of landmarks, fly to the landing zone and come in slow…all of these involve a lot of exploration and scenery changes. It’s interesting to fly over the terrain and take it all in. Wing Island puts limits on most missions that end up ruining the experience you could be having.

The one good thing is that controls felt great. Handling the plane via Wiimote motions worked perfectly, and it was extremely easy to pick up. Before I make my next statement, keep in mind I am a 24 year old. That didn’t stop me from busting out with a few plane noises as I was using the Wiimote. I don’t know what it was…perhaps the Wiimote being perfectly tied to the on-screen movements of the plane. Swooping up and down, twisting around island…it was made a much more immersive experience thanks to the controls. You can also change your plane formation by hitting the A button, which allows you to sneak into even tighter spaces. If anything, Wing Island’s controls show you that the Wiimote could add a brand new layer to the Pilot Wings series, and give us a much more immersive game.

There really isn’t much to say about Wing Island because you don’t do much in the game. The missions continue on, you can switch between different planes, but none of it really matters. You’ll find yourself bored in about an hour’s time. I can still go back into the game and ignore the time limit just to fly around, but that just makes me yearn for a Pilot Wings sequel even more. I guess Wing Island proves that Wiimote controls can add a lot to flying sims, but this game is nothing more than a glorified tech demo. If something like this were in Wii Play, it would have made perfect sense. The way it is now, Wing Island doesn’t offer nearly enough of anything to warrant a purchase. Rent if you must just to check out the controls, you’ll be happy you can return it within a few days.

Categories: Reviews, Consoles
Tags: wii

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