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WiiWare Review: LostWinds

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Among the initial WiiWare launch titles, only two stood out as potentially amazing games. One of those titles happened to be the latest game from Frontier Developments, LostWinds. Thankfully, those who put their faith in LostWinds were rewarded with a short, albeit fun, experience.

LostWinds centers around a young boy named Toku, a cute little fellow who is sleeping at the start screen before we wake him up. On his way back to his village, he stumbles upon a fragment of an artifact containing the wind elemental Enril. Turns out he was trapped in there with the very evil and vengeful Balasar, who just managed to break out into the world once more. And so, it becomes Toku's quest to regain all the broken fragments to help Enril regain his power. That's the only way the two can save Toku's people and the rest of the world from certain doom.

From the outset, you can tell that LostWinds uses the Wii's graphical power well. The art style is refreshing and pretty beautiful for a digitally distributed game, and the in-game sounds and soundtrack are nothing to complain about, especially when you look at the bevy of shovelware and poorly-produced games out there for the Wii. Toku and his world feel a bit cartoonish, perhaps, but they also feel like they're real.

LostWinds shines in the control area, making great use of the Wii remote. While controlling Toku with the nunchuk, players use the Wii remote's IR sensor and the A button to draw paths on screen. These paths turn into gusts of wind, very reminiscent of Okami and its paintbrush-based controls. It's the way that Frontier has implemented these controls that makes them even more useful than the ones in Okami, doing everything from giving Toku a boost in his jump to slowing his descent, defeating bad guys, and helping him solve puzzles.

Speaking of puzzles, LostWinds' game play centers around a lot of platforming and a lot of puzzle solving. The puzzles Frontier has put together for this game are pretty ingenious; one example has Toku using the wind to carry flames across the screen to melt giant chunks of ice blocking the path. It's interesting to see how the fire follows your drawn path, meaning you can have a little fun and throw in a few loop-de-loops if you want to goof around for a bit. The only real problem is that there doesn't seem to be enough of this in the game, a problem that isn't so much the fault of the design as it is a fault of the game's biggest weakness.

That weakness? LostWinds is a very short game, only about two or three hours, and there's not much replay value. It's a solid two or three hours, but the game still feels about half as long as it should have been, even though a sequel is on the way. Still, for the price (1000 Wii points), it's not terrible, and it makes a wonderful addition to any Wii owners' library.

Pros: Makes excellent use of the Wii remote. Good story and art design. Fun and easy to play.

Cons: Really, really short in length.

LostWinds is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB for Mild Fantasy Violence.

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About Brian Szabelski