After the last two articles of “Mario Mania” cameos that coincide with anniversaries this month, I figured “why not go for three?” And since Pilotwings 64 is celebrating the 23rd anniversary of its Japanese release in June 2019, well, that’s good enough for me!
Developed by Nintendo Ultra 64 Dream Team member Paradigm Simulation, Pilotwings 64 served as one of the main launch titles for the Nintendo 64 in all regions, though it was literally the only other launch title besides Super Mario 64 in North America. This echoed the Super Nintendo Entertainment System’s North American launch, where the game’s predecessor was also featured as a part of the launch lineup.
Pilotwings 64 has its share of secrets, though perhaps the most well known among them is a not-too subtle cameo by Mario in the form of a head featured on the Mount Rushmore-like monument found on the game’s “Little States” island, referred to as “Mario Rock.”
However, if you manage to hit Mario’s face with a missile from the Gyrocopter or in the Cannonball mode, then you’ll be treated to a second cameo — a direct hit changes the perky plumber’s visage to that of his crooked rival, Wario!
You can see how the trick is performed for yourself here:
As it turns out, there’s also another cameo of sorts, albeit not a Mario one. And honestly, it’s hard to call it a cameo, as it features one of the game’s star players!
You might have noticed in the image at the top of the article that one of the game’s featured pilots, Lark (also seen here) bears more than a passing resemblance to Nester, the one-time mascot for Nintendo’s long-running in-house publication, Nintendo Power. But as you might suspect, it’s no coincidence; according to Nintendo Power themselves, Lark is Nester! Perhaps adopting the names of birds is a sort of codename procedure these pilots follow?
Depending on your collecting preferences, this next part can be either good news or bad news: Unlike its Super NES older brother, Nintendo has never re-released Pilotwings 64, and as a result, the only way you can add this to your collection is to purchase a copy of the game on an original Nintendo 64 cartridge.
Such a pity, too, as it was quite a fun little entry in the series. Maybe if that pie-in-the-sky Nintendo 64 Classic Edition ever happens, it will be featured as a part of the lineup, but all we can do for now is speculate.