Whoops, I accidentally forgot to write about this game. Pilotwings, for Super Nintendo, has been on my list of games to play for a long time. It's often mentioned when looking back at launch titles, and it seems to evoke a lot of nostalgia for people who grew up with it. It's also gotten sequels on N64 and 3DS (launch titles for both of those systems as well), and it's also gotten a lot of recognition in the recent Super Smash Bros. games in the form of stages, music, etc.
This blog has a thorough look at all the different modes of the game, but basically the game is divided into two halves each consisting of five levels, a "normal" mode in clear skies and a "hard" mode that introduces adverse weather conditions. The four different types of flight are light plane, skydiving, hang gliding, and rocket belt, and even almost 20 years later it's still impressive what Nintendo was able to achieve in terms of 3D effects on a16-bit machine. The game successfully conveys the sense of flying, and as with many Nintendo games it's fun to just spend time flying or gliding around without even trying to accomplish the actual goal.
When it comes to actually buckling down and attempting to get through all the challenges, though, there's definitely potential for a lot of frustration. There's a big gray area between blind trial and error and actually developing skills, and it often feels like with this game the balance leans much more towards the former than the latter, particularly in the skydiving and hang gliding modes and in landing in general. Of the four the plane flying was the most fun for me, and then the rocket belt, and skydiving just felt like a chore since it doesn't feel like you have much control at all. In the end I was able to get through all of the normal mode, but by that time I had had my fill and didn't have any interest in tackling the harder levels. Overall I had fun with this game and I was happy to get to know this bit of Nintendo history, and I'm looking forward to seeing how the sequels compare.