Review by comebackking1

"The winds of change are blowing, and in flies this masterpiece!"

LostWinds is a short and decidedly quirky WiiWare launch title. It combines a simplistic, Metroid-style adventure with some truly unique platforming elements. Rather than jumping to traverse the terrain, you will be armed with the power of wind. Colorful, pleasant graphics, a light-hearted soundtrack, and unique controls make LostWinds a successful launch title that should pave the way for greater things to come.

The game follows the story of a boy named Toku through the beautiful land of Mistralis. An evil entity named Balasar is threatening to destroy the peace and tranquility of the land. Armed with the power of the wind-spirit Enril, Toku must journey through the land, encountering different terrains, unlock four memory chests to help the mysterious Deo regain his memory, and put an end to Balasar's quest for power. It would seem that Frontier Developments has laid the groundwork for a potentially engaging story. However, this game is slated to be released in installments, with this being the first one, so it's a bit hard say how well it turned out.

LostWinds handles like a dream. The analog stick is used for movement, while a press of the A button and an upward thrust will blow Toku upward. It really functions much the same as jumping in most other platformers, although it feels a bit more precise. As the game progresses, Toku receives additional abilities, allowing him access to different areas, ala Metroid. The wind mechanics make for some clever puzzles within the game, but they never get overly complicated. My only frustration was that it was sometimes frustrating to try moving yourself and another object (i.e. a boulder) at the same time. Still, the controls in this game are intuitive and quite precise

The enemies in this game, also known as “glorbs”, are generally defeated by using your powers to slam them into the ground. The problem is that every enemy in the game is some form of a glorb, and there are only 3 different types in total. Admittedly, this is only the first installment in what looks to be a 3 or 4 part series, but slamming the same enemies into the ground with a gust of wind becomes very tedious after awhile. Here's hoping for more variety in part 2.

The music of LostWinds is really adds to the light-hearted feel of the game. It's a soothing melody that matches the art and gameplay perfectly. It's certainly not very memorable, and it does get tiresome listening to it throughout the entirety (yes the entirety) of the game. Save for the appearance of enemies and the final boss battle, it's all you will hear. It's quite relaxing, but it ultimately needed one or two accompanying songs to avoid the monotony that is the LostWinds soundtrack.

The graphics represent 2-D gaming at its finest. The backgrounds are pseudo 3-D while the characters are two dimensional. The forests, caves, waterfalls, and villages you encounter are all colorful and very pleasing to the eye. Its art style seems remarkably similar to the critically acclaimed Zack and Wiki, and the game is all the better for it. This really is a beautiful looking game, marred only by an occasional jump in the frame rate. It's a rare occurrence, but you'll probably notice it at least a time or two during your adventure.

Given that LostWinds is part of a multi-part saga, it's understandable that the game is rather short. Depending on skill, and the amount of exploration you put in, the game will average between two and four hours. There are hidden items known as totems, which may warrant an additional run; beyond that there isn't much incentive to play again. These totems, at least at this point, have no known use other than an additional challenge for completionists. Perhaps, they will serve a purpose in the upcoming chapters.

All in all, LostWinds succeeds largely on its simplicity and tranquility. The visuals are a joy to behold, the controls are rock-solid and intuitive, the music is soothing, though repetitive, and the story has the potential to blossom into that of one of the more enjoyable, unique games to be released in a good while. If you are a fan of either platformers or adventure games, then this game should offer some enjoyment, just don't expect a long or difficult endeavor.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 05/22/08

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