In the immediate aftermath of its 21 Nov 1990 launch, 'Mode 7' rotation became the Super Famicom's great technical pull. It was Nintendo's ace up their sleeve in the shallow but now traditional 'PR wars' that so hinder the sorry circus of bullshit that is the games business. Machines are seldom judged by the quality of their software, they are simply ranked by their technological power.
Essentially, 'Mode 7' means the simple ability of taking a flat object, or 'sprite', and rotate it around in any direction without it causing strain on the machine's processor. The Super Famicom had this ability built in, and that was enough to send the gaming media and tech geeks up into a giant roar of approval, despite the actual limited potential of the effect in question.
Case in point: the best examples of the effect remain Nintendo's F-Zero (1990), that had launched with the machine and Pilotwings, that appeared a month later. Throw in Super Mario Kart (1992) for completion's sake, and you have the only games on Super Famicom that even vaguely exploit 'Mode 7' to any genuinely meaningful extent.
But that's OK, since they are all masterpieces. F-Zero and Mario Kart are racing games, while Pilotwings is an arcade-style flight simulator, in which you must successfully navigate a wide array of different aircraft (biplane, hang glider, parachute etc.) through a selection of missions and obstacle courses. Points are awarded according to the precision of each stage's execution, and a set total will see you through to the next level, or 'licence'.
The game is a joy to play, and can often be absolutely hilarious... There's plenty of tense situations, close calls, and comedy moments in here - be it from crazy improvised stunts, inch-perfect landings, or the selection of wacky bonus games, accessible by reaching the most difficult landing points.
Despite its alomst being a simple 'Mode 7' demo, Nintendo come up trumps once again: Pilotwings is one-of-a-kind gem - a distinctive and unique title that today remains just as appealing as its super-swish N64 sequel Pilotwings 64 (1996), if not more so.


Format Super Famicom
Released 21 Dec 1990
Publisher Nintendo
Product ID SHVC-PW
Size (cm) 19 x 10.5 x 3
Weight (kg) 0.16
Smooth and chilled out simulator of all things aerial from Nintendo.
A fantastic game in every respect, that is slowly becoming harder to find in good condition.

Standard SFC cardboard packaging, 4Mbit cartridge, colour booklet.


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