LostWinds is an enchanting adventure bursting with new gameplay ideas that embrace the innovative controller of the Wii – it puts “the power of the wind in the palm of your hand”. The game’s novel control mechanism lets you jump and glide through different regions, buffeting and smashing enemies, and solving puzzles.
No of Players: 1
Review – August 2008 by Keith Murray.
Right now, WiiWare inhabits a strange place in the landscape of Downloadable games. After much fanfare and the usual Nintendo promise to support their new platform, they seem to have abandoned it almost as quick as they set it up. It’s a shame as one of the leading titles from the launch of the service, Lost Winds from developer Frontier (and the legendary David Braben) is probably the most striking adverts there is for WiiWare. It manages to embody everything that fans of Nintendo desire from their titles; a sublime visual style coupled with exploration and the now ubiquitous waggle control.
The game focuses on the main character Toki, who is awakened from a deep sleep by the spirit Enril. Enril asks for help in banishing an evil spirit that has surfaced after being presumed long gone. Indeed, it’s no stretch of the imagination to see that it borrows heavily from certain other titles (*cough* Zelda *cough*) but in this case, imitation really is the most sincere form of flattery. Enril allows Toki to traverse around the island of Mistralis using wind power, with controls divided between Toki on the Nunchuck, and Enril using the Wii Remote for everything wind-related.
While the controls work for the most part (power-ups are gathered which aid the ability to traverse even loftier areas) they can take some getting used to and will frustrate gamers with a low tolerance for continuous failure. The obvious flaws with the Wii Remote are exposed when pin-point jumps take multiple attempts and will certainly see most players turn off in sheer frustration. It’s disappointing that a few tweaks could have saved this from being too much of an issue.
Graphically, LostWinds is imbued with a lovely art style which is coherent and strong throughout. Everything has a lush, vibrant look and although it relies heavily on bloom lighting in places, it feels right for the title. Blending in elegantly with the surroundings is a haunting musical score that, despite including flutes, still manages to remain attractive. Spot effects also blend effortlessly – from the whoosh of the wind in the trees, to the chirping of birds, Lost Winds attempts to engage the player.
There is a slight issue with the games length; at just about 3 hours it certainly doesn’t offer much in the way of gameplay or value for money, and there is little to no challenge presented by either the puzzles or the enemies encountered.
LostWinds is definitely something everyone should play, but whether it’s a must-own for everyone is another matter entirely. Hopefully future episodes iron out these niggles as there is obviously a quality title trying to come through.
Whether Nintendo continues to back the service and help titles such as these from being lost on the breeze is another matter.