Lost Winds review

April 25, 2010 at 9:02 pm | Posted in Game Review, Wii Review | Leave a comment
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Lost Winds was one of the initial set of titles launched on Nintendo’s WiiWare service. It’s still one of the best games available – although it has been surpassed by the sequel.

Title: Lost Winds

Format: Wii

Developed by: Frontier

Published by: Frontier

Genre: Platform

When it was first announced for WiiWare, Lost Winds quickly became one of the most eagerly awaited games for the service. Emerging from developer Frontier’s ‘game of the week’ competition, where their staff are encouraged to pitch game ideas to the rest of the company, early screenshots and videos suggested a title with plenty of promise. The game meets this promise and in some areas exceeds the high expectations the title had, which is a testament to the value of simpler game design and of course, to the possibilities WiiWare can offer gamers and developers alike.

The story is a typical ‘save the world’ scenario – you control a young boy named Toku, whose village is threatened by a long-dormant evil spirit named Balasar. Toku is joined on his quest to save his homeland by a wind spirit called Enril, visible on-screen as the pointer icon. Toku and Enril must find chests hidden around the land containing the memory of a village elder whose power can seal away Balasar and protect the village.

The story may be well-trod but the innovation and application on offer is something worthy of Nintendo themselves. Indeed Nintendo held this game in high regard in the build up to the launch of WiiWare, holding it up as an example of what the service was designed to achieve and praising the game’s use of the Wii controller. It’s in its use of control and interaction that separates Lost Winds from both the WiiWare launch line-up and most other Wii software. The pointer is used to control the wind-spirit Enril; hold ‘A’ and give the remote a quick flick and a gust of wind will blow along whichever path you etch out. This central element is very similar to Okami in execution, a game that surely proved influential in the look of Lost Winds’ charming character design and wonderful oriental-themed soundtrack. Toku himself is directly controlled by the analogue stick but due to lacking the ability to jump very high, must rely on gusts of wind to reach higher platforms.

The way wind is used to interact with Toku and his environment is well implemented and there are some great wind-based puzzles to tackle during the games admittedly short life span. But it’s the subtle nature of the wind’s influence on the game world that makes this game such a joy to play. Cherry blossom can be blown from trees and swirled around; Toku’s clothing is blown about with any burst of wind; enemies and objects can be juggled playfully or hurled around the screen at a whim. There are so many little touches in control and presentation that you’d normally expect to find in an in-house Nintendo title.

While it only lasts a few hours (three to see through the story, another to search out all the secrets), the experience is one of the most entertaining and relaxing on any console. The hint of a sequel is very welcome, not just because it will provide another world to play with but it will give Frontier a chance to address the few niggles present here. The pacing is a little uneven – the path to your first chest is the same length as that to the remaining three and it ends rather abruptly after the defeat of the games one and only boss. And given the similarity in level design and game structure to the 2-D Metroid games, a map would have been a useful addition.

If the sequel can sort these out and add some more environments to explore, to compliment the villages and caves from this game, then it too will be highly anticipated. It would also be good to see the co-op mode fleshed out a little bit, if the other elemental spirits hinted at during the ending are included.

Despite the game-length, Lost Winds is a definite must-have purchase for anyone wanting to see what WiiWare is all about. Considering that it costs a quarter of the usual medium price Wii title Lost Winds is good value for money, and probably the best out of the launch games. So top up your Wii points (or exchange your star points if you’re lucky) download this, leave a night or two free (a single run may give you serious arm-ache) and enjoy all that Lost Winds has to offer; you won’t be disappointed.

8.5/10

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