Kid Pilot Review – Quest 3

Conceptually, Kid Pilot could be one of the most unique VR games to ever embrace the simple idea of a kid pretending to fly with a toy plane in their hand.  I love arcade-style flying games just like this and I love VR so this seemed to be a perfect match, and while there is some pretty cool stuff going on here, there are several fatal design flaws that will likely keep me from ever finishing this delightful aerial adventure.

There is a certain physicality to Kid Pilot I was not expecting.  Not only are you moving the plane around by making sweeping gestures with your arm and hand; you are also physically operating the “camera” with your body, so you are always flying forward and must physically spin around to turn the plane and reverse direction.  This pretty much eliminates any corded headset like the Rift or Vive, and requires the player to either stand or have a swivel chair or stool handy.  Hopefully, some sort of camera control or even a simple button to execute an Immelmann for a quick 180 gets added.

The game begins in a large hub world with a towering structure full of interactive gadgets and plenty of spiraling ring race challenges.  Don’t like the music; shoot the record player to change the track.  Rings orbit the structure, each with several themed levels to explore.  Some are open adventure areas and other stages are linear race and survival challenges.  My only issue here is that all the stages are locked and require you to earn a star by finishing the previous level, so if you get stuck (like I did twice), there is nothing left to do.  Out of the eight hours I’ve played before I ultimately gave up in hopeless frustration, I probably enjoyed maybe two of those hours.  I was stuck looking for an egg on the Parakeet level for over two hours and I have spent at least three hours on the lava boss.

At some point the game ceased to become fun and even the promise of more levels and adventure weren’t enough to make me endure this horrible boss fight.  I did make it to the third stage of that boss fight twice and was promptly squashed by defensive systems that even Tom Cruise couldn’t navigate.  Trying to survive all 20+ rounds of this boss fight is not a fun experience.  Kid Pilot crashed and burned in a fiery pit of lava and was promptly deleted from my Steam library to pave the way for more friendly games I might actually be able to complete.

I hope Kid Pilot really gets some post-release attention, as it would only take a few minor patches to add camera control and improve the balance on the boss fights, or at least unlock all the stages on each ring rather than forcing us into a linear progression where one stuck level will essentially end the game for you.  Even a difficulty option would be appreciated.  And perhaps the most annoying “glitch” in the game is that you are ALWAYS facing the wrong way when you restart or enter a new level.

I was blown away by Kid Pilot when I first started flying around my game room – yes this is one of those games where you will look like a complete idiot while playing so fly like no one is watching.  I endured the shame of missing the most obvious egg on the Parakeet level, but I simple couldn’t tolerate that lava boss.  There was no test of skill here – just a lot of random luck and tiresome button mashing.  Some of the race levels also went on a bit too long, especially for not having any checkpoints.  For a game with “Kid” in the title, this is going to take some adult patience.

Kid Pilot will certainly appeal to younger gamers with its charming and whimsical designs.  The environments are creatively themed and populated with fun objects and challenges.  Even the plane models are exquisitely detailed, with your pontoon plane having cool carved designs in the wing.  The game definitely works best for exploration and adventure and even the racing challenges but combat just never felt right or even needed.  There is a delightful musical score and interesting sound effects that sync with your actions, and overall, the entire presentation is fantastic.

At this time, I can only cautiously recommend this game.  I’m not sure what or how much game content lies beyond the lava boss – it might even be the final boss for all I know.  There are a few quality-of-life features that are still missing, but assuming this game gets at least one or two more updates it should be clear skies for some great VR aerial adventures.

Author: Mark Smith
I've been an avid gamer since I stumbled upon ZORK running in my local Radio Shack in 1980. Ten years later I was working for Sierra Online. Since then I've owned nearly every game system and most of the games to go with them. Not sure if 40+ years of gaming qualifies me to write reviews, but I do it anyway.

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