A Great, If Easy, Platformer
LostWinds was one of the first big titles to be released on the Wii's WiiWare shop. The game, released in 2008 for 1000 Wii points (or $10), tells the story of a young boy named Toku who, with the help of the wind spirit Enril, attempts to rid his world of a curse. This simple story, backed by great gameplay, makes LostWinds a must own for all Wii owners.
The story of LostWinds is very simple. It serves a singular purpose; provide a reason for the gamplay. I found myself only half interested in the text. Rather, I was interested in exploring the game's world. LostWinds takes a similar approach to platforming that Super Metroid took. The world is fully open to the player to explore from the beginning. But, some areas can't be traversed until the player acquires the appropriate power ups. Exploring is a lot of fun. The world isn't very large which makes for a nice, tight experience while exploring. The player controls Toku with the Wii nunchuck's analog stick and controls the wind, via Enril, by way of the Wii remote. Simply holding down the 'A' button and moving the remote in a direction controls the direction of the wind as indicated by an on-screen reticule. Later, the player can draw intricate paths with this reticule. The player can also fight enemies by way of the wind. The motion controls are simple and usually effective. However, the controls aren't always as precise as the player may want them to be. There will be times where you may have to repeat a segment of gameplay because the game didn't register your movements well enough. The game is very easy. I believe I only died once and the penalty for dying is very lenient. Toku has a health bar (represented by a heart). After four his, Toku loses a life. Through his journey, Toku will pick up stray, floating bits. These appear by interacting with the environment or killing enemies. If enough of these are collected the player is given an extra life. At any one time the player can have three extra lives. These floating bits are everywhere and can easily be collected by hovering the Wii remote's reticule over the bits making the concept of losing all of Toku's lives a very foreign one. There really was never a challenge in this game. The only challenge I ever faced was wondering where to go at one point in the game. But, even then, the solution wasn't hard to find. LostWinds isn't a game to test your video game prowess. Rather, it is a game that is enjoyed through simply experiencing the uniqueness of the world and joy of exploration.
The sound design is very well done. The music has a nice soundscape musical score during exploration portions of the game whereas the fighting portions have a drum heavy, thunderous score. The music is very well done. The sound effects are just fine as well. Surround isn't really utilized but the sound is full and powerful when it needs to be. The graphics are another high point for LostWinds. The game has a very vibrant color scheme and utilizes fairly advanced techniques for the platform including heavy bloom and depth-of-field effects. Despite an occasional drop in the frame rate LostWinds is a very graphically impressive title.
LostWinds represents the best of what WiiWare has to offer and is as good as the best XBLA and PSN games. The game shows how to develop a great game that utilizes the Wii's capabilities rather then abuses them. If it weren't for some control issues I would consider this game one of the best downloadable games to be released this console generation. But, despite the issues, other developers should look to Frontier Games' LostWinds as a model for how to make a memorable, fun, and engrossing downloadable game.