Pilot Academy

Pilot Academy

Pilot Academy

Let's not become a pilot!

Pilot Academy is a game about flying planes. It's got civilian planes, military planes, new planes, and old planes; it's got missions, challenges and lessons; and it's got records and achievements and multiplayer modes. It's an extension of the Japanese flight sim series, Pilot Ni Narou (or Let's Become A Pilot!), which has been brought out over here by Rising Star Games, a publisher with the admirable mission of releasing lesser known or niche Japanese titles in the west. But on balance, they probably shouldn't have bothered with Pilot Ni Narou.

The reason they shouldn't have bothered is that the game will only appeal to a small subset of PSP owners: hardcore flight sim fans. In fact it'll only appeal to a small subset of those PSP-owning hardcore flight sim fans: hardcore flight sim fans who like the added challenge of controlling a plane with the PSP's useless analog stick.

See, while the super sensitive and squirrelly handling and long periods of doing very little are probably pretty authentic, real pilots don't have to use the PSP's awful nipple to control their planes. So they're probably less likely to inadvertently send their craft into a sudden tailspin, or to accidentally have a malcoordinated panic attack that leads to a horrible fatal crash while trying (but miserably failing) to touch down on the runway. Which is good news for air passengers, obviously, just not for people who play Pilot Academy, because it means the game can veer between bouts of easy ambling and moments of sudden crisis: between frustrating difficulty and just plain boringness.

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Rising Stars

Bub Bob PSP, Rainbow Islands, Snowboard Kids and Pilot Academy.

Strolling through a chilly Green Park last week, on my way to a hotel to take a look at some of Rising Star's 2006 line-up, I was treated to the sight of strange men in complex harnesses hacking away at the branching tendril-like claws of the tops of trees with chainsaws, gradually revealing a murky grey skyline pockmarked at its thinnest by the promise of sun. It seemed like a good, wanky introductory paragraph just waiting to segue into reflecting on the publisher's first twelve months.