Wing Island Hands-On

Is this new flight game from Hudson the next Pilotwings? Maybe, maybe not--but we played it, either way.

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NEW YORK--Tucked away in a back corner of Nintendo's Wii press event today was Wing Island, a new flight game from Japanese developer Hudson, which is being created specifically for the unique console's control functionality. The demo indicated that you'll be able to accrue a diverse collection of biplanes (and possibly higher-tech stuff) with different levels of performance, and you'll be able to visit different islands to pick up all sorts of missions. Not a lot of information was available beyond that, but we're betting you'll unlock more planes by completing more missions (just a hunch.)

On the island we had available to us, there were missions like "deliver medicine" and "spot the missing cows." Other missions tasked us with photographing a flock of birds or destroying some rocks, and there was an "aerial battle" mission available where we had to race another team of planes through a series of numbered rings. Team of planes? Strangely, in the missions we played, we controlled not one plane but rather a team of five of them flying in formation.

It still played like one plane, though, and we moved the Wii remote about to adjust the pitch and yaw of our team. In the medicine-delivery mission, for instance, we had to fly from the large island over an expanse of water to a much smaller one where a small village was located. This island had a tiny drop zone on it, and each of our five planes had one package of medicine tethered to it, which we could release in sequence by hitting the B button. We were fighting against strong wind currents, though, so this was all trickier than it might sound. The control did remind us of the old classic Pilotwings games, in that we had to get a feel for pitching our aircraft against the air, planning our moves ahead of time, and so on.

Wing Island looks like a simple action game that will hopefully provide a satisfying experience for flight enthusiasts. Graphically, the game doesn't seem to be pushing the Wii too hard, with simplistic environments and plane models, but then, this is the sort of game you play more for the control anyway. There's no word yet on a US publisher or release date for Wing Island, but we'll bring you that info as soon as we can.

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