LostWinds: Winter of the Melodias Review for Nintendo Wii

LostWinds: Winter of the Melodias Review for Nintendo Wii

The adventures of Toku and Enril continue in this second installment of the LostWinds series for WiiWare. Developer Frontier takes some of the basics from the first game to create a completely fresh experience Wii owners simply should not ignore.

LostWinds: Winter of the Melodias screenshot

The game begins with a brief glimpse of a young Melodia boy who stumbles upon an artifact of great power. The scene then cuts to Toku napping atop some tree in the village of Homeset where he soon learns that his mother, Magdi, may be in grave danger. Though the gameplay and presentation speak louder than words, the story unfolds gracefully, allowing players to slowly soak up each and every savory moment of the experience.

Tracing his mother to the neighboring village of Summerfall, Toku discovers the land has been blanketed with winter’s snow. Without spoiling the “why,” let’s just say the changes in weather play a major role in the adventure.

Like the first game, your main control over Toku is comprised of moving him with the analog stick on the Nunchuk. He can eat fruit (to heal) and interact with various other objects via the Z button, but for the most part Toku and Enril will need to work together in order to progress through the game.

If you didn’t play the first LostWinds, Enril is a wind spirit who you control by using a combination of button presses and gestures with the Wii Remote. Controlling the wind takes practice and finesse, but it never feels gimmicky. In the first game, you could propel Toku up to out-of-reach areas with two or three casts of the Gust ability (executed by pressing the A button and gesturing upward with the Wii Remote) and manipulate certain elements of the environment by using a power called Slipstream. You’ll begin Winter of the Melodias with these powers already intact, so most of the real fun comes from the new abilities and environments you’ll experience along the way.

Toku arrives at Summerfall ill-prepared for the biting cold, and he’ll need to stay near fire lest he freeze. You’ll have to light stoves at various checkpoints along the path, using the power of Enril to ignite additional torches to serve as your lifeline. It’s a really fun mechanic that’s only used in the very early portions of the game. By the time you reach your first, main destination, you’ll acquire other means by which to negotiate the harsh cold and slippery slopes of the game world.

LostWinds: Winter of the Melodias screenshot

Perhaps the main, new power you’ll acquire in Melodias is Cyclone, which, as its name implies, allows you to create mini tornadoes. Like the first game, Enril’s powers are used in incredibly clever ways, making the puzzles pure joy to play through. Aside from a few minor quibbles related to the final (and only real) boss in Winter of the Melodias, each large segment of the game left me with a big smile on my face.

One of the first uses you’ll find for the Cyclone ability is in helping Toku to reach particularly high vistas, but before long, you’ll be using the power to transfer water or drill through portions of the earth. For instance, you can cast Cyclone over a pool of water in order to form a cloud that can then be Gust to another location; casting Gust downward on the cloud will then cause it to rain, creating another pool of water. Tinkering with pools will allow you to revive plants that can propel you upward, or perhaps you’ll want to change the weather, causing the water to freeze over so as to form a pathway for you to progress.

LostWinds: Winter of the Melodias screenshot

Yes, you will eventually gain the ability to change warm weather to cold and vice versa, often implementing the change several times in order to navigate a single area of the map. You can harden streams, making it possible to walk up waterfalls, or melt waterways that lead to hidden passages.

One old trick of the trade makes a return in Melodias, but it’s used in new ways that make sense within the context of the game’s theme. In areas where there’s snowfall, you can form a vortex, which will create a snowball. You’ll use these to break through walls of ice or weigh down plates to open doors.

LostWinds: Winter of the Melodias screenshot

Music also plays a fairly significant role in Winter of the Melodias – no big surprise, of course, considering the game’s title. At certain points in the story you’ll use the power of music to activate lifts or open doors, and again, it’s an enjoyable gameplay tidbit that isn’t overused.

There’s no real combat in the game, though you will, once again, need to dispatch several types of glorbs. In most cases, a couple of Gusts will deal with these annoying buggers, but there are one or two bigger guys later on in the game that can be a real nuisance. It’s also one of the few complaints I have with Melodias – the enemies are more of an annoyance than a challenge. That being said, their presence in the game fits the mythology and sensibilities of LostWinds perfectly.

As you make your way through the game world, you’ll encounter a variety of interesting though subtle characters. Puzzle platforming remains the focus for most of the game, but you’re never stuck doing the same things for long. The gameplay always feels fresh, and the addition of a map system makes navigation quite a bit easier than the first game. Along your journey, you’ll stumble upon pages from Magdi’s journal; it’s a tasteful way to slowly pull back the curtain on Melodias’ story.

In terms of visuals, Winter of the Melodias isn’t just the best-looking game on the WiiWare platform, it’s one of the best-looking games on Wii, period. The game isn’t going to “wow” you with particle effects or bump mapping, but everything from the character models to the wonderfully ambient lighting exudes a love for the craft of game-making. As with the first game, the visuals don’t just look pretty from a technical standpoint. The entire presentation comes together to create a moving and thoroughly enjoyable gaming experience.

The music is mostly more of the same, with the exception of moments when you’re navigating winter landscapes. Recurring themes from the first game serve to solidify the powerful and inherently spiritual vibe of LostWinds, while new music adds a slightly haunting touch to the adventure. Sound effects are subtle but, matched with a touch of rumble feedback here and there, have a surprising amount of impact.

LostWinds: Winter of the Melodias is pretty much everything fans of the first game could have hoped for in a sequel, and it’s more than inviting to newcomers, as well. The ending is a bit anticlimactic, but the game says a lot without words. The visuals, heart-tugging themes, and stellar level design come together to make for a truly magical journey. Though it might not trump the first game, Melodias is its equal in every way. There are some neat extras to enjoy, and collecting all of the game’s 48 idols should keep completionists busy for a good while after the story ends.

Easily the best-looking game on WiiWare and more ambitious than most retail titles. 4.4 Control
Once again, LostWinds uses the Wii in ways that go well above and beyond the competition. Dispatching enemies could use a little tinkering, but overall, the game’s a joy to play. 4.5 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
There isn’t a whole lot of new content in terms of audio, but it’s such a strong soundtrack. The subtlety and nuance presented in LostWinds is truly enchanting. 4.2

Play Value
Clocking in at roughly five hours, it’s a fairly short experience. That being said, $10 is a small price to pay for the magic bottled up in this adventure.

4.4 Overall Rating – Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Instantly Transform Mistralis between Summer and Winter: Sonté Spirit of Seasons’ powerful gift lets you instantly transform Mistralis at will between Summer and Winter – you’ll harness the brilliance of nature as you venture across frozen Winter ponds and waterfalls that become deep, teeming Summer pools and chambers in which to dive and unlock secrets, whilst freezing or dousing enemies and using the very air itself to form snowballs and moisture-laden clouds.
  • Incredible New Cyclone Power: Mastery of Enril’s re-discovered incredible cyclone power will be vital in your adventure across Mistralis, using it to transport Toku, smash powerful enemies and even drill through the rock around you.
  • Explore Richly Interactive New Areas of Mistralis: You’ll need to use your amazing new abilities, plus all Enril’s power from the first game, to guide Toku through the diverse, magical and richly interactive new areas of Mistralis and protect him from new minions and a powerful, poisonous adversary sent by Balasar to thwart you in your battle to lift the curse and save Mistralis.

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