After the launch of WiiWare in Europe and Australia last Monday, the game at the top of our list was always Frontier-developed platformer LostWinds. We now own it. Here’s our review.
We were instantly struck by how beautiful and peaceful it looked. We were greeted by a sleeping child curled up on some grass surrounded by blooming, pink trees; flowers blossoming all around and some serene Japanese-style, flute and lute music. As soon as we moved the Wii-mote across the screen, we heard the sound of the rushing wind and noticed the branches swaying and the rushes leaning over as we stroked the cursor from left to right.
We soon found out that the little boy’s name is Toku and after same basic platforming in a sparkling underground cave he met a wind spirit called Enril. It’s here you learn your first skill: the ability to lift Toku up in the air by placing the cursor over him, holding down ‘A’ and flicking the remote upwards.
A few new abilities later and Toku is doing double jumps to reach previously unobtainable ledges, and you’re creating slipstreams by drawing path for Toku to glide across and directing flames at branches blocking the way. There’s plenty more on offer on the skills front, but we won’t spoil it for you.
LostWinds is essentially a 2D platformer with 3D back-drops, the overall effect adding depth to play. As you make your way through the village or across the countryside, Toku interacts with the goings-on in the background: children sneeze as you brush wind across them, and you can even startle old men. These touches are arbitrary to gameplay but underlines attention to detail. It’s cute.
The game’s puzzles are logical and easily fathomed. On occasion, however, locating the right puzzle to progress can be annoying. With no map for help and the various areas littered with ledges, choosing the right path can be frustrating.
For example, we tried for ten minutes to attain a faraway platform only to finally succeed and discover it was the wrong choice. Cue much backtracking and a few grumbles from Pat on the sofa.
You see, the problem is that you have to time the double jumps perfectly. You are aided by the fact that you can pause in mid air by holding ‘A’, but if you don’t get maximum distance or height on your first jump, you’ll never make it. And being as arrogant as we are, we were certain on so many occasions that we’d got it right and a certain jump was impossible, only to find out on the twentieth attempt that it could.
To be honest however, it could just be down to our in ability to control the Wii-mote than the game itself, but we thought it was worth mentioning.
As far as any other criticisms are concerned, they’re few and far between. There is one big one, though. It’s too short. You could see the 3-4 hours length as a positive, but we were left wanting so much more that we were genuinely disappointed when it was all over. Good job there’s already a sequel on the way.
The game reminds us of a mixture of the beauty and execution of Capcom’s ‘Okami’ coupled with the serenity of The Game Company’s ‘Cloud’, which is a huge complement in our books. LostWinds is an absolute must if you own a Wii and to say the ten euro price tag is worth the money is an understatement.
By Mike Bowden