|System: Wii (WiiWare)||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Frontier Dev.||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Frontier Dev.||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: May 12, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Joseph Catalanotto
March 24, 2008 - In countless video games, the hero of the story is not on his own -- he (or she!) often has somebody to help him along the way. Sometimes it's a companion or a party of friends. Sometimes it's a deity, a god who intervenes on the hero's behalf. In fact, the idea of gods helping humans is a premise started thousands of years ago (think back to the many stories of Greek mythology when a deity helps or hurts a human being). And now, LostWinds, a title scheduled for WiiWare release, plans to offer a surprising twist on this classic premise.
The innovations offered by LostWinds are many, but the greatest is the fact that you control not one but two distinct characters simultaneously. The game's protagonist, Toku is on a quest to save his world from the evil Balasar.< /p>
He is controlled with the Nunchuk. Using it, he can run and jump -- pretty much his only abilities. More complexity comes in the form of Enril, a wind spirit who is helping Toku. You can use Enril to examine items and people in the world, as well as call upon various wind-related abilities to help Toku overcome certain obstacles.
It is unclear at this point exactly how you'll use the Wii Remote to control the winds, but motion control is certainly not out of the question. Examining things is done simply by pointing at it and tapping the A button (think Zack & Wiki). That leaves just about an entire controller open to the development team to use how they wish. Specific pointing and actions will be taken care of with the Wii Remote, whereas the A and B buttons will be utilized as a way to execute Enril's basic wind abilities. There's more to the game than these simple abilities, however, so I think it is a safe bet to suggest that the Wii Remote's functionality will come into play more as you progress through the game.
But LostWinds is not a complex, intricate 3D adventure title -- rather, it's essentially a platformer with some obvious innovations. Many of the challenges that you'll face are simply navigating the game's different levels. There are gaps to be crossed and foes to be defeated, as well as many puzzles that must solved in order to continue. In all of these, Enril's abilities as a wind spirit need to be taken advantage of. For example, Toku cannot jump very high or far at all, but there are some huge chasms that he'll need to cross. The solution: conjure up some winds to help him across or, if that won't do it, create a tornado to carry him across the gap.
This very simple example brings up another really neat aspect of LostWinds: there's no right way to do anything. Of course, there are some simple tasks, but other platforming challenges can be tackled from a number of different angles. The same approach can be applied both to navigating Balasar's many foes and solving the game's puzzles. You could simply blow foes out of the way for a short while to allow Toku to run under them or hit them with a quick blast of wind to stun them momentarily. Or if you feel like it, you could constantly blow them back and forth, throw them into other enemies, or blow them off a cliff. The possibilities are many, and it's this variety that will make LostWinds a fun game to play.
The third major aspect of LostWinds, as I've already mentioned, are the puzzles scattered throughout the land. There are many of them, and you'll have to be creative in order to solve them. It's also worth noting that Toku himself won't be able to do much, as his abilities are quite limited; Enril will be doing most of the work in puzzle-solving, oftentimes augmenting the efforts of his hero-in-the-making. In order to solve puzzles, you'll have to take advantage of Enril's other main ability: that of sucking up items and then using those items elsewhere. For example, say there's a column of fire blocking the way. The solution? Go find some water from earlier in the level, suck it up, then use it on the fire to make it disappear. The puzzles are, in fact, quite similar to those of Zack and Wiki; that is to say, the solutions are often simple at first but will become more and more involved and complex.
One final facet of LostWinds that is worth noting is that it's surprisingly good-looking, especially for a downloadable title. The "area" of the game isn't that large, especially as LostWinds will be played basically as a 2D platformer, but the development team took advantage of that to really make everything look great. The visuals have a cartoon-feel to them, but at the same time the attention to detail in all the environments and enemies is fantastic. It's just another reason to consider purchasing LostWinds when it releases later this year. It's shaping up to be a really interesting, innovative game, and if you're a fan of either platformers or puzzlers, you've got to check this one out!
CCC Freelance Writer