It's official: LostWinds will change your life. It's a bold statement this early in the review but it's true. It might not last very long but while it does you will be utterly charmed and equally enthralled. You're curious now, aren't you? Read on...
LostWinds is one of the first WiiWare games to become available on Nintendo's new online shop. It costs a mere 1,000 points (approx £7.50) and takes less than a minute to download. It can't be that great, right? Wrong.
From the moment you start LostWinds up it's obvious that this is no budget game. From the pleasing art style to the dreamy music and lovely sound effects this is very much a proper game.
Bright And Breezy
Frontier's debut Nintendo game sees you taking control of a small boy named Toku and his friend, a Wind Spirit called Enril. The evil Balasar is awakening and will ravage the land unless you can do something about it. So far, so 'heard it all before' but it's the gameplay that really sets this game apart.
The adventure is, essentially, a 2D side-scrolling platformer set in a gorgeous magical land. The Nunchuk is used to move left and right (analogue stick) and to interact with items (Z button). It's the Wii Remote that gives you access to the game's big selling point - the power of the wind. Wherever you point, Enril will blow. At first this is limited to sending gusts of wind through the trees and your surroundings but you soon learn that it forms the basis for everything.
Hold A and strike a line through Toku and he'll be lifted in that direction. The strength and direction of the gust is all down to you. You soon learn to perform multiple gusts, essentially allowing you to double and triple jump through the air. You can also take out enemies with the power of the wind, whether that's with a strong gust or by blowing them into walls.
That's just the beginning though. About an hour in you'll discover that you can also control the elements. Flames can be carried in the wind in order to burn down barriers and water is be satisfyingly showered over seeds in order to make them grow. You can even suspend and spin musical blocks in the air so that they emanate a certain frequency and open doorways. It screams Zelda but that's exactly what is so good about it.
Stop, Look, Listen
Graphically and aurally, LostWinds is an absolute joy. Particle effects such as flames and water have been lovingly created and while the graphics won't blow you away (no pun intended) on a technical level they perfectly suit the game's art style. And the folk-like soundtrack is the perfect remedy after a long day behind a desk.
LostWinds' only problem then, is that it lasts a criminally short amount of time. After three or four hours you'll beat a boss character and that is it. There you are, itching to start the next chapter, when actually the game is over.
Now don't get us wrong - there are plenty of full price games out there that are of a similar length but LostWinds sucks you in so completely that you're going to be very disappointed when it ends so prematurely. We're sure new chapters of the game are on the way and at approximately three hours each we'll be more than happy if four episodes (which should cost around £30) eventually come our way but, right now, we simply don't know if that's the case.
Ultimately though, LostWinds is a fantastic achievement that has set the standard for all future WiiWare titles. It's a little piece of heaven that you really must experience, but you should be aware that the magic is over all too quickly.