Friday, October 16, 2015

Play with Virtual RC Flying Toys in Wii U's Quadcopter Pilot Challenge




The latest waves of remote control (RC) flying toys have fascinated me, and their falling prices have tempted me on more than one occassion into actually buying one. Yet while I may be a nerd by choice, I am also a klutz by nature; thus, I'm certain that I'd somehow wind up breaking the toy within days--if not hours or minutes--after purchase. Thankfully, someone at TACS Games understands my geeky dilemma and has recently released Quadcopter Pilot Challenge as a downloadable eShop game for the Wii U. Read on for my complete review.

Quadcopter Pilot Challenge is an RC quadcopter simulator, which means that this game revolves around a simulation of a toy--not an unmanned combat drone or surveillance quadcopter. The Wii U Gamepad functions like an RC controller. The Gamepad screen also allows you to see through the quadcopter's built-in camera, while the main TV screen allows you to see the quadcopter from a third-person perspective.

The activities in the game focus on an RC quadcopter flight school--complete with your own pilot's license--that's located in a desert environment. In the flight school, players complete challenges assigned by instructor Jenny Rotors (yes, really). The flight school provides players with experience points and medals that will in turn upgrade the class of their quadcopter pilot licenses. Each challenge is timed, so how quickly players complete the challenge determines the amount of experience points they receive and whether they receive a medal. Every time players complete a set of challenges within the flight school, they unlock those and other challenges within the free play mode of the game. In free play mode, players can access the challenges without going through the flight school.




The challenges come in seven categories, with varying levels of difficulty within each category:
  • Flying the quadcopter through a series of vertical and horizontal hoops. 
  • Completing races across the flight school's quadcopter range.
  • Using a mounted canon that fires an unlimited supply of tennis balls to shoot at an arrangement of targets (some moving, some not).
  • Using a mounted mallet to knock blue cans off of raised wooden boards (while staying away from red cans).
  • Finding and hovering over "disaster victims" in order to mark their locations.
  • Flying around robot sheep in order to herd them to a specific spot where they will be beamed up to a flying saucer.
  • Using a serving tray mounted to the top of the quadcopter to deliver cheeseburgers to a number of picnic tables.
Players have the option in the free play mode to decide if they want to fly their quadcopter with or without a rotor guard. The rotor guard allows you to bump the quadcopter into other objects without damaging it; without the guard, the rotors break like twigs if they hit another object, thus upping the challenge. In the flight school, the initial challenges include the rotor guard; however, when players earn a certain number of experience points, flying the quadcopter without a rotor guard becomes mandatory to gain more experience points through the flight school.




I really enjoy this game and it does a very good job in capturing the physical motion of an RC quadcopter. Even though players don't get to fly the quadcopter outside of the flight school, the variety of obstacles and challenges that are added to and configured within the quadcopter range keep things interesting. Furthermore, the provision of two different, simultaneous viewpoints that I mentioned earlier comes in handy in completing certain tasks, such as aiming the cannon to hit the targets.

The only place where this game falters is in the night mode feature. After bursting over 100 green balloons--items that appear in the challenges that players can use to shave minutes off of their completion time--the night mode becomes available, where players have to rely on a spotlight mounted to the quadcopter to navigate their way through obstaces. Unfortunately, the illumination provided by the spotlight doesn't behave like light: It moves like a flat, circular window into daylight, not a beam of light moving through a three-dimensional space. Given how much this game gets right in its physics, such an error ruins an otherwise obvious addition to the game's many challenges.

Overall, Quadcopter Pilot Challenge is a fun game for anyone who enjoys RC flying and wants to test their mettle as a pilot without the worry of breaking expensive toys. For such a cheap price--less than $10--players can wreck as many virtual quadcopters as they want to without having to pay a dime more. Where else can you do this?





2 comments:

  1. Tim,

    I liked your blog on quad-copters. A simulator such as this is about as close as I'll ever get, or want to get, to the real thing.

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    Replies
    1. I'm right there with you. They may have gotten cheaper in recent years, but they're still to expensive for me to buy--and break. :)

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