With the first crop of Wiiware games on the U.S Wii, comes LostWinds. Developed by Frontier, exclusively for Wiiware, it's one of the best looking games among the titles first put out on the service.
LostWinds tells the tale of Toku, a little boy that lives in a paradisical village in the island of Mistralis . One day, he is woken up by a gust of wind, leading him to find a lost spirit who has the power to control the winds. Armed with this power, Toku is literally thrust into a quest to save the peaceful isle from the clutches of Balasar, an evil spirit once encased in a crystal, that is now free and terrorizing the land.
Playing LostWinds is incredibly simple. The Wii's nunchuk controls the main character's movements, with the Z button functioning as an contextual interaction tool. The gusts of wind are created through motions while pressing the A button on the Wii remote. These gusts not only move Toki, but serve as a form of lift force that acts upon environments, items and enemies. Other powers can be found throughout the various areas in the island, like a sort of directional gust that can be plotted out on screen while holding the B button. This works as a form of channeling the elements, like fire and water, so they can be used to clear obstacles, and to defeat enemies. The motion controls are intuitive and simple to understand, allowing an easy learning and mastering of the variety of actions simple blows of wind can do.
And simple is what LostWinds thrives to be. Its graphics, though not ambitious, marry perfectly with the game's premise. Light bloom smoothes the screen at all times, with plain shapes contrasting to pleasant colors. Environments have multi planes, showing depth and detail, while creatures - friendly or not - have few, but functional, lines to them. The game play itself sticks to bidimensional platforming, with levels having long vertical and horizontal paths to be explored. Most of the times, paths won't be open until a certain power has been acquired or upgraded, following a formula similar to Nintendo's Metroid series, or Konami's Castlevania. Although not as complex as those games, LostWinds rewards players for exploring, presenting twenty four hidden trophies to those who wish to explore.
Being a 1000 Wii Points game, which equates to 10 dollars, and a 43 megabyte download, LostWinds is not a long adventure. An average game player can breeze through the main game mode in about four hours, which can be prolonged by the trophy hunt and just the sheer delight of exploring the environments in Mistralis. Its relaxing game play, coupled with delightful visuals and sound design, make LostWinds not only a great title for the debut of Wiiware, but also one of the best Wii games around - fully priced or not.