Though they’re a developer with a heavy background in the theme park tycoon genre, Frontier Developments has brought about one of themost atmospheric title’s the Wii has seen in LostWinds. Combine that with intuitive Wii controls, you’ve got yourself a steal for $10 (1,000 Wii Points.)
The story in LostWinds begins with your protagonist, Toku, waking up to a bit of wind. Soon thereafter he falls off a cliff and picks up a stone that holds the world’s Wind Spirit inside. That’s all fantastic, but sadly this is about as exciting as the story gets. The Wind Spirit tells you the story of how it’s hard out there for a Spirit, and what peril the world is about to face due to the escape of the most diabolical insect looking thing ever. Very generic, which is really unfortunate, as the organic setting could have benefited from having some kind of emotional attachment to Toku.
Speaking of the setting, the atmosphere this game creates is second-to-none in my book. It’s not just the calming music, the way the world reacts to your gusts, the natural wind audio, or the games art: It’s how every piece of the atmosphere’s puzzle compliments the others. Now let’s get something straight: this game does not create the conventional atmosphere that a BioShock fashions, as seeing the protagonist from the third person fundamentally removes you from the environment. Still, the rural Japanese tone is something to behold.
To control Toku’s movement you will be using both the Nunchuck and Wii Remote. Move left or right with the analog stick, and when jumping use the remote to control the winds to control Toku in the air. You’ll also be solving puzzles with the wind, which range from simply drawing a line to drawing lines, opening doors, pulling levers, and watering plants in hopes of obtaining a ball with holes in it. The controls are solid from start to finish, and they achieve something very few Wii games have yet to sniff: the player doesn’t realize they’re controlling the game with flicks of the wrist. As such, this game could only be successful on the Wii.
There is however one not-so-minor problem. This game needs a FREAKING MAP. There are points in the game (and by points in the game, I mean for the entirety of the three to four hours LostWinds lasts) where you will be told to go to a specific location to find a certain something. While that’s not at all unexpected given the genre of game this is, there are simply not enough hints to inform you of where in Chris Hansen’s name you are while exploring. Actually, Frontier Developments are to the successful middle-aged men on To Catch a Predator as video game critics are to Chris Hansen: Frontier KNOWS their game isn’t scum, but when Sir Hansen asks “So what exactly are you doing here [without a map]?” all they can say is “We were just going t-… I don’t know what I was thinking.”
Even so, LostWinds is a must-play for Wii owners that enjoy either puzzle-dusted 2D platformers, or games with ambiance.