Flight simulators can be pretty hit or miss, since there are so many factors involved in making them successful. Navigating the skies is a more complex process than one would think, as it's not just a matter of 'going forward' like a racing game. Being able to control height, having a reliable way to make turns, and even being able to do a few tricks are things that can make or break any flight simulation game. Kid Adventures: Sky Captain doesn't make the job any easier by being a flight sim for children, removing many of the button variations that a normal controller-pilot would rely upon and instead focusing completely on motion controls. It's a predictable swap for any Wii game, but does it work to any advantage?
The story for Sky Captain is pretty simple (as it should be). Players get to select between being a boy or girl pilot, are given a short tutorial on how to fly the plane, then are set off into the world with the goal of being the Sky Captain. There's no real explanation as to what a Sky Captain is, but in order to become one players wander the world in search of rings and quests. Flying through rings provides experience, and reaching a quest ring will give players a short mission, such as putting out a local fire with water bombs or helping deliver tools elsewhere on the island. The quests never really become more complicated than a few repetitive tasks, which is fine because this is a game meant for kids. It's actually a little surprising how quickly the game starts up, as most games for children like to feature an incredibly long and boring tutorial.
Flying itself is a hit or miss experience, but not due to the usual suspects that plague flight simulation controls. Controlling the airplane is very simple, as it will naturally cruise at a set speed the entire time. Players use a single remote (held sideways) and tilt to the side to turn, forward to go down, and back to gain altitude. It's very simple, easy to understand and control, and very well balanced. A few tricks are assigned to other buttons as well, making missions easy to complete and fun moves easy to master. The only real downside to flying is the speed, which is unimaginably slow. The only explanation for the lack of speed that the aircraft is capable of is to make navigation easier, but in this case the controls are so solid it feels like the developers could have done with a few extra ranks of speed boost.
Be that as it may, the real bread and butter of the game comes with exploring the levels. Players start with a single island unlocked, and can open up new islands to play from as they continue to gain experience. Missions and rings are hidden all over each level, in a very creative amount of places, making reaching them all a challenge. Adults should find most of the ring locations pretty easy to figure out (such as in a cave, or above the water), but younger children should have an engaging time searching for some of the more 'exotic' ring locations (in train tunnels, down waterfalls). As long as the player enjoys exploring non-stop (as there is no way to stop mid flight) they should have a relatively good time with Sky Captain.
Replay wise Sky Captain doesn't offer too much reward aside from exploring the levels and finding every single hoop. However, gaining experience does unlock a pretty decent array of new planes (including a funky UFO). The planes all come with some unlockable colors too, which adds a neat degree of customization to the game. A nice surprise considering they could of just let players ride around in the same plane forever without anyone noticing.
Graphically the game has a very 'Bob the Builder' feel, which works out. There's no complex shading, heavy environmental details, or high definition effects here. What matters is that everything, from buildings to boats, is easily identifiable from the distance. The game also plays some very chipper music on a loop that some parents may be very familiar with. The kind of noise your children love, but will slowly wear down upon you after the first four straight hours. Yet another sign of dedication that Sky Captain shows toward the intended target market, somehow it all fits together to create a very age-appropriate environment.
Overall, Kid Adventures: Sky Captain is far more engaging than it looks based on its cover. Easy to pick up, with some extremely impressive load times, the game is sure to engage any child that has a flying fantasy. The controls are intuitive and relatively forgiving, which is the most important thing to take away from this review since little hands sometimes have a harder time navigating such things. Depth wise Sky Captain suffers from a lack of variety amongst their missions, and the gameplay can get a bit repetitive to an older audience, but the experience as a whole is great.