LostWinds Wii Review
When I see the wind blowing through the trees I just think of it as, well, the wind blowing through the trees. Steven Burgess of Frontier Developments saw the wind blowing through the trees and he was inspired to make a game about it, although the final product does go a little deeper than merely disturbing leaves and branches.
LostWinds is one of the games that helped launch WiiWare and to many is known as the shiny and polished gem of the Wii’s download service. In order to play the game on your Wii, you’ll obviously need a internet connection to download the thing, along with 259 blocks of free space and 1000 Wii points (£7 for those who prefer to deal in real cash).
Once I had downloaded the game I almost instantly found myself falling in love with the cheerful visuals and the calming music. Visually the game is bright and attractive and the world of LostWinds would certainly be a nice place to live in if it wasn’t inhabited by nuisance enemies that deserve to be blown away like pieces of rubbish in a gust of wind.
As you might have gathered by now LostWinds is all about taking control of the invisible force that is the wind (hence the very suggestive title) and using it to aid the central character in his micro quest. You take control of Toku (or should that be Toku and the wind), a red hat wearing and spiky haired boy, who is awoken from his nap at the beginning of the game by Enril the wind spirit. You are then tasked with helping her restore her power in order to go up against an evil spirit. The story may be functional enough although it doesn’t serve any other purpose than to give Toku a valid reason for being tossed around by the wind.
Chucking Toku with the wind is done with ease thanks to the brilliant controls that make impressive use of the Wii remote. The pointer function gently disturbing certain objects in the background is a nice touch, but in no way does it help you progress. On the other hand, drawing a line horizontally or vertically across Toku, by holding down the A button and moving the remote in whichever direction you fancy proves that Toku and Enril are a good team, and will conjure up a gust of wind that will send the young hero into a momentary flight. This isn’t Toku’s only means of travel, you also walk around like a normal boy by using the nunchuck, the wind comes into play to attack enemies and to soar up towards the kind of areas that would ordinarily be out of reach of curious children. As the game is without the traditional jump button seen in many other games, Toku reaches un-climbable heights in his own unique way.
So, we already know that LostWinds is part jumpy platformer, although it’s also very much a brainteaser as well. It doesn’t come as much as a shock to learn that puzzles involve some windy help, and the solutions to these puzzling obstacles are often very clever indeed. On the whole I didn’t find that the puzzles required me to be in some form of clever trance to reach the answer, although many are still very satisfying to overcome, using objects in the environment such as rocks, switches and fire, in combination with the always maturing abilities of the accompanying wind spirit.
It’s a real shame that Toku’s quest isn’t an epic one, and you’d have to have a good imagination to think otherwise. I completed the game in under three and a half hours on my first time through and was disappointed that some of this skimpy play time was devoured by moments of backtracking. It’s also a shame that portions of the game feel a little rushed, particularly towards the end. Being a puzzle title at heart, unless you are a perfectionist who will seek out the 24 melodia idols hidden throughout the game world, the game has virtually no replay value to speak of.
LostWinds is a tad overpriced and over short, but you could exchange £7 for something longer and much less enjoyable than this. The controls work brilliantly well and the quality of the game as a whole makes this an experience that is worth having. Just don’t go into the game expecting to be in its company for any serious length of time, as a decent amount of playing time is something that LostWinds just doesn’t deliver.