It's winter and summer on the very same day!
The original LostWinds, released early last year as a launch game for the Wii's downloadable service, showed out of the gate how well-crafted games with very restrictive size limitations can be. It used a lot of what makes the Wii a unique platform, using both pointing and direct character controls. Since then, we have gotten very few games with the same quality and originality, some of which are mainly NyxQuest and A Boy and His Blob.
[image1]LostWinds: Winter of Melodias picks up right where the first game left off. Toku, an adventurous young boy, with the help of the wind spirit Enril, managed to save his village from the clutches of Balasar, an evil spirit bent on what else but world destruction/domination/conquering. Toku wakes up to discover his mother has gone missing while exploring the frigid lands of a bordering region in search of an item that has the power to rid the world of Balasar forever.
What made LostWinds - and now this sequel - so unique is how Toku is controlled. He's a common boy who can only run so fast or jump so high, but thanks to Enril's wind powers, used through the Wii's remote, he can reach new heights, carry heavy objects, and now in LostWinds: Winter of Melodias, even control the seasons. Very early in the game, he gains a magical item that reverts winter into summer, and vice-versa, becoming one of the main tools for solving the environmental puzzles in the game.
During winter, waterways are frozen and thus inaccessible, but on the other hand, the constant snowfall can be turned into snowballs to turn on pressure switches. In summer, enemies are more active, but there are fewer frozen obstacles in the way. The seasonal gimmick is drawn from the likes of the dark and light world mechanic in The Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past, but it is used smartly, and thankfully, not exclusively.
[image2]Enril also gains new powers, like a cyclone that can carry Toku and items vertically, or suck up the water out of a lake so it can fill another pool or even water a seed to grow into a bud. All the powers can be combined and work well as tools for puzzle-solving. None of the puzzles are particularly brain-meltingly difficult, but I did find this sequel fairly more hectic than the first game in terms of keeping tabs on Toku and whatever else I was doing at the same time.
The other thing that made Lostwinds so endearing was its art style, which combined colorful cel-shaded graphics and watercolor-painted backdrops, along with incredibly well-animated characters that react to your actions. In Winter of the Melodias, the name is not misleading: You run and jump around in snowy regions that have a colorful color palette despite being mostly white. Not to mention almost every area in the game has two distinct looks, one for each season, that not only vary visually but also mechanically, with frozen pathways that open during the summer and slippery rapids that only become manageable during the winter.
Toku is as charming as ever this time around, even when he's dying of frostbite. He tilts and tumbles as the winds throw him around, and after a certain point in the game, he even has a different set of clothing for each of the seasons. The music also plays a part in the presentation, with the theme from the first game making a return, and new tracks that fits in well with the new areas you'll visit.
[image3]The only detraction is how bad some of the collision detection is, especially during sections where you are handling rocks with Enril's winds and guiding Toku at the same time. Sometimes, the rock will hit Toku and it won't hurt him, while other times it will, but the reaction is the same and hardly noticeable if you aren't paying attention to his lifebar at the top-right corner of the screen. This isn't much of a complaint since there's not a lot of combat other than the occasional enemy encounter, but it's something that you'll notice simply because the rest of the game is gorgeously executed.
Like its predecessor, LostWinds: Winter of Melodias is a short game, lasting around three hours. Still, it's a very enjoyable three hours than can be somewhat extended if you are the sort to go after every hidden item, which unlocks art pieces that can be viewed from the main menu. Even if you are one to scoff at how quickly LostWinds: Winter of the Melodias might last you, it's definitely one of the best games you can get for 1,000 Wii Points (US $10) on Wiiware.