Unseen 64, the wonderful archive of all games half-finished and unreleased, has done the impossible and dug up information on what until now was considered a myth: the Gamecube version of Pilotwings.
Usually Pilotwings shows up whenever Nintendo needs to show off an impressive new graphical feature. It demoed Mode 7 in 1991, 3D graphics in 1996 and a literal 3-D display in 2011. What would have necessitated a Pilotwings on the Gamecube? As the developer behind the project tells it, they were going for a different take.
Julian Eggebrecht, former head of Factor 5’s San Rafael studios, revealed to Unseen 64 that after impressing Nintendo with two Star Wars games, Rogue Leader and Rogue Leader II, Factor 5 was considering working with Nintendo directly on one of their own properties. Since they’d already proven themselves experts in the flying game field, Julian thought they should try their hand at Pilotwings, and he had the perfect spin.
Inspired by the movie The Right Stuff, players would step into the role of a test pilot during the Cold War. The game would have started out traditionally, but eventually the gameplay would diversify into things like stealth missions. Nintendo was enamored with the idea, but with a limited staff and Rogue Leader II on strict deadline, Factor 5 had little time to work on it.
By the time Rogue Leader II was completed, sales of Gamecube games had fallen dramatically, and Factor 5’s parent company Lucasarts no longer had an interest in publishing on the system. What little there was of the Pilotwings project (nothing was ever programmed or even sketched) was reworked into an actual Right Stuff game. This too failed to take off when no buyers were interested in footing the bill for the license to a 1983 movie.
All this information and more can be found in Unseen 64’s Youtube video, embedded below. It’s worth a watch!