Game Center CX Season 12 – Back to Contents
Airborne Arino! "Pilotwings"
From Ninja Gaiden II, we get a nice change of pace: Pilotwings, the Super Famicom launch game that’s now almost 20 years old! This "sky sports simulation" features a variety of flying machines that the player uses to complete various challenges.
Arino starts the game, and begins with the introductory level, headed by the flight instructor Tanaka. The first flight area is introduced, and then Arino chooses the Light Plane to start with. Simple enough: Just fly the plane into the orbs forming a guideline in the air, then safely land on the runway. Unfortunately, Arino doesn’t hit all the orbs, as he goes up and down a little too sharply, and approaches the runway too fast — he almost crashes, but bounces off, only to, er, crash a second later. He only gets 5 points for that failure, and he needs 120 to clear the course.
Arino moves on to the Skydiving event, where he must fall through all the green rings in the sky, then safely touch down on the flashing landing area. Arino tries to be strategic and set himself just a little ahead of the target, then turn around to angle his landing better, but he ends up falling just a couple of meters outside of the entire landing area. Not a very good start — he ends up with 80 points total, and Tanaka is quite disappointed.
Arino gets back on the proverbial horse and tries the Light Plane again. Much better this time — slow and steady wins this race, and though he does bounce off the runway again, he does land perfectly. 78 points are earned!
If he can get at least 42 on Skydiving, he’s moving on.
He doesn’t quite hit the bullseye on Skydiving, but he does touch down on the landing area, and with the points from the green rings, he ends up with 60 from that event. That’s that, then! Arino gets his "A" license, and moves on to the second course.
A new vehicle, the Rocketbelt, is available on the second course, but Arino saves it for later and isntead tries a new Plane event. This one requires some turning before hitting the runway, but Arino takes it calmly, and flies through all the rings. But then, a tragic turn of events, as he pitches the plane too low, and it nosedives toward the ground. He tries to pull up, but it’s too late — a crash just before the runway.
He needs 190 more points, but he moves on to Skydiving to try and make up for it. This challenge isn’t much better, as the bullseye is surrounded by a moat, and Arino naturally overshoots and plunges into the drink.
Down but not out, he moves on to the Rocketbelt. Here, he must fly through all the green rings, then land on the yellow target. Extreme care is needed with the Rocketbelt, as it’s kind of touchy, but Arino manages to clear the rings and land right on the 70-point bullseye. He gets 90 points, but that only totals to 140.
As before, his second attempts are much better — the plane lands safely, as does his skydiver. But on the Rocketbelt, Arino gets greedy and tries to land on the moving platform outside the target. It’s nerve-wracking, and soon he loses concentration and falls right into the water.
And from there, the failures immediately start stacking up. Crash after crash after splash, Arino takes multiple attempt sthrough course 2. But he gets back in the zone and comes within sight of the goal — he just needs 65 points from the Rocketbelt to move on. All goes well with the ‘belt, as Arino scores an even 100 points. The "B" license is obtained!
The next instructor is the blond-haired foreigner Scott (Lance in the English version), who of course speaks awful Japanese. Scott’s course introduces the Hang Glider event, but Arino again starts with the plane. This time, he has to start from the ground, then fly up through a series of rings, and land again. He goes full throttle the entire time, though, causing him to miss most of the rings, and then lands in the water.
The Rocketbelt’s next, and this time Arino has to touch bar-shaped orbs rather than fly through circles. Easy on paper, but the sensitive Rocketbelt makes it hard to aim oneself toward the bars. Arino takes his time, though, and despite almost running out of fuel, he lands right on the tiny target. It’s not looking good for him clearing the course, though.
Now for the hang glider. In this event, Arino must use thermal gusts to ascend to 500 feet, then land. He hits 500 as soon as he hits the first thermal, and safely lands on the ground — but not on the designated target area (he had no idea where it was, you see). Time to do it all over again…
Arino starts with the hang glider this time, and also spots the target area as well. Unfortunately, his attempt to circle the area leads to him taking a swim. He checks the manual — it teaches him the flare technique, which is a much more effective "brake" while in the air. He tries it out, but still lands far away from the target. Still, Scott lets it slide, and he passes the event. Just 160 points to go!
The Rocketbelt ends with another swim, so Arino restarts the whole thing again. He clears that (landing right on the edge of the target platform!), then ends with the plane event. This time he just outright bungles it, failing to actually lift the plane up, and running right off the runway into the water. Another restart, starting with the plane this time — he does great until crashing on the landing… twice.
Arino cleans up on the next events, finally netting him victory (and the "Silver" license). Course 4 begins, led by the intimidating instructor Kurota. The Light Plane event is challenging, but Arino clears it easily the first time through — for once.
Skydiving isn’t as successful, but the Rocketbelt and hang glider go okay. It’s still not enough to clear the course, though (he needs a whopping 300 points), so Arino goes thorugh the motions again. And again, he comes up short. One attempt in Skydiving, in fact, ends with a botched landing, costing him crucial points. Skydiving becomes the big problem event in this one.
Finally, help arrives in the form of AD Emoto, who offers to handle the tricky landing in Skydiving. Emoto’s predictably awesome, swiftly diving through the rings, but unfortunately botching his landing as well. Still, Arino is handed back the controller to try and make up for that — though he wastes no time in crashing the plane afterward.
Emoto points out the bonus platform in the skydiving and Rocketbelt areaa, which can net an extra 100 points if Arino lands on it. It moves back and forth quickly, though, so extra concentration is needed. He tries it on the Rocketbelt, but hits the water just a split second before the platform travels under his feet.
On another restart, Arino comes within 77 points of the goal, so he’ll have to make the final hang glider flight count. He clears the altitude fine, and as he approaches the target, Emoto tells him how to circle the target just enough in order to hit the center. A few intense moments later, Arino touches the target area just before it’s too late, and earns 80 points from the event. All it took was four hours!
Emoto’s done for now, but before leaving, he warns Arino that the next course is a tough one. Indeed, course 5 is a special mission that has nothing to do with the flight school: Arino has to head into battle with an attack chopper and rescue a hostage! All he has to do is take out all the turrets on the ground and safely land on the base, but the turrets’ missiles are scarily accurate, and Arino gets struck several times.
After a few more failures, Arino takes things more slowly, taking out turrets one at a time (including ones hidden in the trees). Things get hilariously scary as he just barely misses enemy missiles, but after clearing the immediate area, Arino carefully lands on the helipad next to the base, where the hostage is rescued.
Victory! Certainly after such a climactic level, the game must be over. Nope — Arino is shocked when the title screen reappears, now showing a night sky and the logo, now reading "Pilotwings EXPERT." The proper fifth course begins, with a reappearance by instructor Tanaka and a new series of difficult challenges — these ones taking place during the winter.
Arino starts with skydiving, and tries vainly to land on the moving bonus panel — he doesn’t lose, but he doesn’t hit the panel either, so he just tries again. With the point requirement being so high for the course, Arino’s drive to hit that panel is greater than ever, and he goes through several attempts, each failure more upsetting than the last. Amazingly, after landing short of the panel, it slides up under Arino’s feet, counting as a good landing, and "landing" him the 100 bonus points.
Weirdly, landing on the bonus panel leads to a bonus game, where you control a penguin taking a high dive into a pool. Arino reaches for the manual to try and figure it out, but as he hits "Start" to pause, the penguin jumps off! Quickly he grabs the controller again, but the penguin lands on the outside of the water, falling through the ground. At any rate, he gets the base 100 points for landing on the panel — just nothing else for the penguin game.
40 points remain, and Arino goes for the plane event next. Unfortunately, he lands just before a slow drift, which ruins his landing once he touches it. He only gets 10 points for that one. He restarts, trying for that skydiving bonus again, and does eventually get it again. He gets the penguin into the pool this time, but nowhere near its target, and only gets an extra 10 points.
He tries the plane again, hoping he stops short of the snow drift — and he does! That’s enough points to clear the course, and he moves on to the sixth set of challenges. By now, though, the difficulty is just too great, and he continues to fail.
Arino is handed the clock — does he give up or try again anotherday? He wastes no time — this one’s a give-up. After more than 13 hours, the Pilotwings challenge ends in sadness.
A brief look at former AD Tojima’s wedding reception, which included a special video message from Arino. Tojima’s stuck around since the beginning, after all, so it’s nice to follow him taking such a big step in life.
A Waste of Color
For this final installment, Arino checks out the Game Boy version of Prince of Persia, a game he played on the show many years ago. It’s pretty faithful, meaning it’s just as challenging.
Next is another game familiar to GCCX viewers: Street Fighter II. Unfortunately, Arino’s trusty Dhalsim isn’t in this limited port, so he settles with Blanka. As he figures out the controls (he thinks it uses all the buttons, which just ends up rapidly swtiching Super Game Boy palletes), he remarks on how slow the game moves. He’s also summarily beaten by his opponent Ken. That’s about it, though — no doodles from Arino this time.
Game Collections: 1990: June