Pilot Brothers HD – iPad
Publisher: G5 Entertainment
Developer: 1C Wireless
Release Date: Oct 25, 2012
Genre: Adventure
Reviewed by Mark Smith

Review Score: 2 of 5

The Pilot Brothers have not only been around longer than Professor Layton, the Russian duo have had logged considerably more hours solving various mysterious and puzzles dating back to the 90’s. The characters were originally created for a cartoon series in the 80’s then made their way into Soviet gaming, but this is the first time American audiences get to experience the quirky pair of inept gumshoes.

Pilot Brothers is a rather short game made longer by some troublesome controls and frustrating gameplay. It seems an elephant has gone missing from the local zoo and you need to find it by investigating clues and interacting with people and possible suspects in 15 unique locations. While the missing elephant carries the overall story, each scene has its own mini-agenda, and once you exhaust all the clues and conversation in that area you advance to the next. Some of the scenes are very short, often only requiring 2-3 steps to complete, and assuming you can get past the broken interface, you can likely finish the entire game in 2-3 hours.

As is typical with most adventures, you’ll find plenty of puzzles that need to be solved, and while many of these are amusing and even logical at times, others seem to be so off-the-wall you’ll either need some radical thinking or a walkthrough to ever figure them out. Thankfully, G5 offers both a hint button and a video solution option, each with a cool down timer to prevent too much abuse, should you get terribly stuck on any one puzzle. The hint button is annoying in that is shows you all possible interactions on a given scene – even the ones you have already completed.

But even clever outside-the-box thinking won’t help you overcome the troublesome controls that mostly involve imprecise character selection, response, and position based on where you tap the screen. And with some interactions measured by mere pixels, the game can prove extremely frustrating when you think you are where you need to be but are off by just a fraction. This could have all been fixed with a pinch-zoom feature. Some puzzles also require the use of one character versus the other, but these choices have no logical reasons, so it is merely more trial and error to extend an already short game.

As far as presentation, the art style is, shall we say, unique. They are definitely going more for style than to showcase your iPad’s graphics capabilities, but the visuals do exude their own unique and quirky charm. The sound mix is horrible in that the music drowns out the dialogue, and with no mixing options you’ll be forced to turn the music off entirely if you want to hear Chief and Colleague speak.

I was really hoping to like Pilot Brothers, not just because it was a much-welcomed departure from the weekly installment of HOA games, but because it looked to provide an original graphics style and a cool buddy-cop element with a fun mystery to solve. Sadly, at the end of the day, the only mystery is why and how did this Cold War Soviet relic ever get released on the iPad.

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