Pilotwings 64 is a sequel to the Super Nintendo game Pilotwings. This installment in the franchise continues the flight simulator themes with arcade style gameplay. Flight missions are given on four different stages, with the player able to choose from six different characters. Three different vehicles are also available for standard missions; the Hang Glider, Rocket Belt and Gyrocopter.
Specific mission goals depend on the class of vehicle, however most missions follow the formula of takeoff, task completion and proper landing. Tasks vary from flying through a series of floating rings, to landing on checkpoints, and to taking judged pictures. Missions are also usually based on a time limit, where points are detracted once the player exceeds the time allotted.
For each mission, 100 points are possible for a Perfect Score from the player. Badges are awarded for obtaining certain point levels, as in a Silver Badge is awarded for the Rocket Belt after passing an average of 80 points or higher on each Rocket Belt mission.
When landing is required, the player is judged on impact and accuracy. Too hard of an impact anywhere in the level will cause the pilot to crash the plane and the mission to be failed. After each failure, the game offers textual tips for improving the player’s piloting skills.
Each level of difficulty for the classes of vehicles is designated to a specific island, all four of which display unique traits. The player is also free to choose any character at any given time, which are separated into light, medium, and heavy pilots.
The pilots’ names are taken from bird names in the American version of the game. The lightweight pilots are Kiwi, the girl, and Lark, the boy. These are ideal for the Rocket Belt, as they display an increased maneuverability and speed. The medium weight pilots are Ibis, the woman, and Goose, the man, both of which are suited for the Hang Glider. The heaviest pilots, the woman Robin, and Hawk, the male, are best fitted for the Gyrocopter.
The analog stick controls the Hang Glider’s movement, while an additional button can flare the glider’s wings for speed adjustments. Pilots must ensure they stay in the air long enough to complete the tasks while also landing properly. Hot air columns allow the Hang Glider to receive a significant amount of lift. Photography is also designated to Hang Glider missions, with each photo being stored in the photo album.
The Rocket Belts are more complicated than the Hang Gliders, allowing the player to control a jet pack that sends the player hovering at high altitudes and high speeds. Two buttons are designated to different amounts of thrust, one at full engine power, and the other at half. Hovering is also possible by the trigger button, allowing precise pilot movement, proving the Rocket Belt to be a favorite among many players.
The Gyrocopter takes off and lands similar to an airplane, with in flight controls responding similarly. Extremely low speeds are possible due to the helicopter fashioned design, but high speeds are also easily attainable during timed missions. The Gyrocopter is also equipped with a missile launcher while players have access to an unending supply of missiles. These are often used to either hit practice targets, or defeat the only enemy in the game, the Godzilla-like “Meca Hawk.”
The Birdman mode equips pilots with bird-like wings attached to their arms. During these stages, the player is free to explore the island at their leisure, as this is not a timed mission, nor are there any tasks. The different weather modes are also available, ranging in sunny, cloudy, evening and night.
Sky Diving is also another mode where the pilots must complete in air formations with a following parachute landing on specific targets. The player only has a limited amount of time to complete each formation, as the altitude drops rapidly during the freefall.
A Cannonball mode lets players aim their pilot in a giant canon, and shoot them out towards a target, similarly to a circus clown as the missions’ soundtrack suggests.
The Jumble Hopper fits the pilots with oversized boots, propelling the pilot vertical and forward with force, as the goal is to reach the destination in as few hops as possible. Landing in river water will not cause the player to crash, however, points will be deducted from the final score.
Holiday Island is the starting location for each class of vehicle. This island is the smallest in the game, featuring attractions such as an amusement park complete with a Ferris wheel, and a mountaintop mansion.
Crescent Island features a beach location, as well as an extensive cave system cutting through its main mountain ridge. Many coastal homes can be seen on the outskirts of the island, while the inside features resorts, complete with pools and tennis courts. Luxury liners also inhabit the waters nearby.
Ever-Frost Island is an island permanently covered in snow, featuring tall peaks and sharp vertical drops. An oil refinery sits between some of the small islets, while a ski resort is build upon the main island.
The Little States is a miniature replica of the United States, with a shrunken Mississippi River, Grand Canyon, and Rocky Mountain region. Major cities are represented as small groupings of skyscrapers, while some national monuments, such as the Washington Monument, or Mount Rushmore, exist in smaller scale. Mount Rushmore, in fact, features the likeness of Mario next to the American presidents.