Lovely. Absolutely bloomin' lovely. That's our quick four word review of Winter Of The Melodias. It's all you need to know, but even so doesn't come close to describing what a sumptuous experience this is. Indeed, we could easily wax lyrical about how gorgeous, how clever, how economical and how utterly charming this game is for the next 20 pages. That would be an indulgence though, so we'll see what we can achieve over the next 400 words or so.
The plot picks up fairly soon after the original with Toku learning that his mother has come into strife high in the mountains surrounding his village. He sets off to investigate with the help of the now-friendly Magmok - the giant stone monster who he defeated at the conclusion of the first game. It's a breathtaking opening five minutes, with the Magmok clambering around in the background, occasionally moving into the foreground to offer Toku a lift, present his hand as a platform or pick the wee lad up and lob him up the mountainside.
Once you've finished your ascent the main plot kicks in and the sequel's embellishments, twists and extra bells and whistles slowly start to reveal themselves. The first game was a cracker of course, but Winter Of The Melodias improves on it in every department. Crucially, it's considerably longer than it's frustratingly brief predecessor, but as well as that it's deeper, more imaginative, more varied and more intelligently designed too.
The most significant development is the new season-changing mechanic. Not far into the game, Toku picks up the ability to switch between winter and summer, offering a really imaginative set-up for some brain-bending puzzles. He's got a host of new abilities too - he can summon whirlwinds to move water about, he can create snowballs in mid air and he can swim too.
The introduction of a map is also a welcome addition. It's essentially a fairly traditional 'Metroidvania'-style platformer at heart and as such a map is essential. The lack of one in the original led to a great deal of aimless wandering and discouraged exploration. That's remedied here and the game is all the more engaging for it.
There is more imagination, gameplay, finesse and straightforward fun here than in the vast majority of full price retail games. It surely deserves to be rewarded with your Wii Points.