The Story Behind The Open World Pilotwings That Never Happened

Illustration for article titled The Story Behind The Open World Pilotwings That Never Happened

Pilotwings used to be a dependable B-tier flight-sim series for Nintendo consoles but the last one came out over six years ago. That game was Pilotwings Resort on the 3DS. It was almost something very different, however.


Factor 5, the studio that worked on the Rogue Squadron series and also created the tragically flawed Lair, pitched Nintendo on a Pilotwings-type game that started on the Gamecube and would have eventually been produced for the Wii. Like a lot of failed game projects that never saw the light of day, Factor 5's take on the whimsical flight-sim had a lot of grandiose ideas, including the possibility of special head tracking glasses designed specifically to give the game more depth. Nintendo eventually passed on the proposal though, leaving Factor 5 to try and finish the game as “WeFly” in partnership with a different publisher.

This is all according to the latest Unseen64 video which tries to shed light on the mysterious, canceled entry in the Pilotwings series.

Julian Eggebrecht, the head of Factor 5, was directing an early Pilotwings-esc project which was teased at E3 2003. It took place during the Cold War with the player getting trained as a pilot beneath the shadow of mutually assured nuclear destruction. But when nobody was intersted, Factor 5 began to look to Nintendo to turn it into a potential Pilotwings game. It would shed it’s sinister Cold War baggage in order to be more light-hearted and family friendly for the Wii, and follow a more familiar version of the target and maker-based missions popularized in the Nintendo series.

The guys who might have made the next Pilotwings apparently worked best while drinking.

Players would have completed missions around real life landmarks from around the planet though instead of made-up locations, making it something of a compromise between the two visions. Most notably, it would have included a special Wii peripheral in the form of infrared glasses that could communicate with the Wii sensor bar in order to add another layer of depth to the navigation and spatial puzzles.

A lot.

Ultimately Nintendo passed, however, and while Factor 5 tired to hook up with other publishing partners to get the game finished, it never came to fruition. It’s especially unfortunate given that the most recent game in the series, Pilotwings Resort, didn’t do the best job of capturing the sim-lite magic that made the previous games so special. You can find out more at over at Unseen64.

Kotaku staff writer. You can reach him at


PanchoVilleneuve ST

This reminded me of my favorite PS2 launch title, Sky Odyssey. I want a new one of those, bad.