Pilot Academy is being developed by Kuju, with design duties handled by Pilot Ni Narou! series producer Junichi Kutsuzawa. This fusion of East and West development talent will ensure the game retains the spirit of the original titles whilst making the most of the PlayStation Portable's formidable hardware.
"The Pilot Ni Parou series has shown that flight simulations needn't be niche, and Pilot Academy will reinforce this," says Junichi Kutsuzawa, series producer. "The game will offer the most authoritative simulation of civil and military flight ever seen on a handheld, without requiring a degree in engineering to play. Everyone's fascinated by the wonder of flying, and Pilot Academy will allow everyone, everywhere to enjoy commercial or military aircraft in a host of different planes."
The game is built upon staggering technology, which represents the landscapes from 30,000ft down to landing – and with three regions to explore, each around 64km square, this handheld flight sim packs significantly more than its home console counterparts. Controls offer the complexity of piloting a range of aircraft without insisting players are double-jointed, and the game will provide specific vocal instructions for those who veer off course.
Pilot Academy begins with a series of training exercises which teach the basics of flight. From there, players can jump into the cockpit of commercial, private and military planes in a series of increasingly tough challenges and missions.
Four eras of combat plane are represented – from World War I, through World War II, and The Cold War, to modern-day combat, each with their own challenges. All types and sizes of civilian planes are on offer – from crop sprayers to massive 300-seater passenger jets, and everything in between – with appropriate challenges for each class. Stunt aircraft will test dexterity, whist commercial aircraft will demand other skills – such as emergency landings in fierce conditions.
Each successful completion of a challenge allows players to select other planes and scenarios, each unique to the class of aircraft they are currently piloting. Records and achievements are recorded, providing further incentive to replay missions and challenges for additional reward.
Up to eight players will be able to take part in four different multiplayer games – with the 'Deathmatch' mode available to any PSP owner, whether they own a copy of the game or not.
"From these early screens, it's easy to see how Pilot Academy will define handheld flight simulations," concludes Junichi. Kutsuzawa. "It's a game which typifies Rising Star Game's philosophy of combining the best from Japan with the West, to create games which have appeal the world over."
Pilot Academy will be published by Rising Star Games for Sony PSP in March 2006.