Back in the 90’s, I played Pilotwings on my friends Super Nintendo and it hooked me in. The first Ultrawings was an obvious VR attempt at similar gameplay. Utrawings 2 takes things even farther by bringing together that nostalgia for me in the current VR tech. Graphics are simple, but it’s such a great game in VR.
Pilotwings from Back in the Day
I did not own a Super Nintendo, so my only playtime with the original Pilotwings relied on my friend’s console. Maybe the short play time added to my great impression of the game, but those were definitely good memories.
There was skydiving, hang gliders, biplanes, a rocket belt and an attack chopper. It was hard at times, but fun. Most missions required flying through floating markers, then landing on a spot or runway. Points gained added to a license total to advance to new missions. After enough points, combat missions unlocked in the chopper.
At times it was frustrating, but addictive, nonetheless. There was a great rush after sticking the perfect landing when skydiving, but there were plenty of failed attempts before that. Some of those “attempts” involved frustrations bubbling over and purposely plowing the skydiver into the asphalt. Probably all Pilotwings players did that at least once lol.
There were follow up games for consoles like the Nintendo 64, but I never revisited that game from my childhood. When I saw Ultrawings VR was the spiritual successor to Pilotwings, I jumped right in. When part 2 released, it was obvious the game leaned in even more.
Ultrawings 2 Claiming the Pilotwings Mantle in Virtual Reality
Right off the bat, I put on the virtual pilot helmet in game, then off to the first airfield office. There’s a briefing-like board to select the various jobs, combat ops or free fly. Some jobs are very familiar to the game modes from that old Pilotwings game.
Every new aircraft unlocked has a set of “licensing” missions that serve as a tutorial for the aircraft. There are various “jobs” to fly through floating target rings (like a dart board) with varying levels of difficulty by combine time limits, tight turns, shooting at drones or balloons, required take offs, landing and more. Most are plenty fun, while some frustrating.
Sticking the Ultrawings 2 Landing
Landing in Ultrawings 2 is tough at first, so the truly difficult missions are extra nerve racking when you have to land with low fuel. Crash and that mission progress is gone, but there’s usually an offer to skip landing to accept a lesser medal. It’s a fun challenge, but that option helps prevent frustrations.
Probably my least favorite are the spot landings. Landing in a target zone seams fun, but I still have difficulty controlling the airspeed to land where I want. Hitting the spot is only part of the battle, because you have to then slow the plane to a safe stop. You don’t have to stop in the spots, just touch the wheels, but after touching down theirs often tight quarters in which to taxi to a stop
Besides Jobs, there are also Combat Ops to dog fight or bomb enemy vehicles. It’s an extra challenge that is a welcome addition to the game. Earning medals in either Jobs or Combat Ops adds cash to the piggy bank. This is the main method of progression.
Cash buys new airfields and new aircraft. Each of the aircraft in the game are tied to a specific airport, but have missions available for all I unlocked. Basically, I’d buy the airport, complete some missions there with existing aircraft to earn money to buy that airfield’s signature aircraft. It’s nice to change the scenery and the aircraft. It keeps things fresh.
Flying Away with the Various Aircraft
Ultrawings 2 includes 5 aircraft including the Phoenix, the Stallion, the Comet, the Dragonfly and the New Hawk. Unlike the original Pilotwings game, all aircraft are pilot first person, in the cockpit. I love looking all around in virtual reality. The game does have visual comfort option to mitigate motion sickness, but I left the defauls.
Each of those aircraft include the same basic flight controls to start things up. There’s a fuel switch, a magneto switch and an ignition to start everything up. You can flip them in an order, but those first two both need to be on before the ignition works. It’s a great combination simple and multiple step to provide a super light sim feel. I love flipping those switches.
Each also includes a joystick to control the aircraft movement and some type of throttle to control speed. Both are controlled via the VR controllers (virtually grab the controls). The Yaw control for each aircraft are controlled via the left thumbstick on VR controller. Although all those basic controls are common for all aircraft, the location and functionality is a bit different for each (switch, button, dial, key, etc.).
The Phoenix is like a hobby plane with a small one seater body and glider-like wing. There’s a small engine at the top with permanent wheels at the bottom. There’s also a holster for a dart gun to shoot at balloons. It’s a fun starter airplane with the simplest controls, only including the controls I mentioned above. It flies like a glider with just a bit of power added.
The Stallion is basically a World War 2 style plane. It’s a nice step up from the Phoenix. There’s more power, more controls and guns (only during Combat Ops though). Beyond the basic controls, the Stallion also includes a lever for flaps and a flip switch for landing gear. They are simple controls, but it is so satisfying to raise landing gear after take off. It’s just as satisfying to lower the gear and set the flaps before landing.
The Comet is what really wowed me and hooked me into the game fully. It’s the only airplane in the game that doesn’t have a variable throttle control. That’s because it’s a rocket. There’s a flip switch to turn the rocket on and off. It’s super fast when the rocket is on and as good as a glider when turned off. That flip of the switch not only adds a dose of adrenaline, but also great gameplay.
It’s a challenge to flip the switch on and off to go from fast to maneuverable. Controls include flaps and landing gear switch like the Stallion. The flaps are so much more fun in the Comet. There’s nothing like setting full flaps on the ground and hitting that rocket switch. It launches almost straight up in no time.
Well I’d say the Dragonfly is my favorite, or second favorite depending on the day (the Comet is no joke). I love helicopters, so I’m very happy the developers included one. It’s definitely a different set of challenges compared to the other aircraft. I had fun balancing the collective (helicopters version of throttle) with the joystick and tail rotor controls (same as rudder). There’s plenty of fun weaving in between the skyscrapers.
I have not yet unlocked the New Hawk biplane. It is obvious the plane specializes in aerial stunts looking at some of the special rings from the game trailer. Looking forward to seeing how maneuverable the plane is compared to the the others. The style of the plane definitely reminds me of the challenging landings from back in the Pilotwings days.
Ultrawings 2 is a Must Have VR Game
The first Ultrawings game was a fun almost mini game experience, but Ultrawings 2 is a must have for any serious VR gamer. Sure the graphics border on cartoonish, but the challenge of the various controls and missions is a ton of fun. Everyone must try out the Comet. Flipping that switch for the rocket is magic and the helicopter is a must, as well.
Just remember if you start playing, don’t stress over always getting gold medals. Have fun.