Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Lostwinds - Wii

Nintendo's Wiiware channel has thrown a couple of gems our way since it launched back in May, but so far nothing has come close to competing with the wonderful Lostwinds.

Lostwinds was one of the first batch of titles released on Nintendo's download service and incredibly, it was created in just three months by British company Frontier Developments.

Taking control of a young boy named Toku, you are handed the task of saving the island of Mistralis from the evil creature Balasar, who is threatening to cover the peaceful land in darkness.

Along with your wind spirit companion Enril, you'll explore this beautiful landscape and try and recover Enril's powers to finally rid Mistralis of this evil threat.

The control method has been wonderfully implemented and is both simple and innovative. Controlling Toku is standard stuff - left or right with the nunchuk moves Toku in that direction. However the real innovation lies with the Wiimote.

This controls Enril, and by drawing shapes on screen, gusts of wind are created, which are used to aid Toku on his quest. If a ledge is too high to negotiate, simply create a gust of wind underneath the little fella and he'll be blown upwards.

The wind also comes in useful for a variety of of other tasks, such as blowing away enemies and creating slipstreams to carry Toku to previously unreachable heights.

Along with being a way to help Toku on his travels, the wind is also useful for problem solving. For example, if you path is blocked by a tangle of wooden thorns, you can draw a line of wind between a lighted torch and the thorns, which burns them away, leaving your path clear.

You can also draw water from streams and waterfalls to sprinkle seeds, which grow into full-sized plants and help you reach new areas.

As you can see from the screenshots, LostWinds looks absolutely gorgeous. The art design is incredible - lush, green rolling hills give way to spectacular underground caves in the blink of an eye.

The local village is inhabited by a cast of wonderful and charming characters, while the background's 3D effect gives the whole world a real sense of depth. You can't help wishing you could go deeper into the scenery and explore more of the beautiful landscape.

The game is also packed with brilliant little touches which bring the whole world to life.

As you sweep the Wiimote across the screen, grass rustles, flowers sway and bend, cherry blossom falls gently to the ground, water splashes, windmills turn and villagers cry out in alarm. And leave Toku alone for too long, and he'll curl up into a little ball and fall asleep. It's utterly charming.

Along with the wonderful gameplay and stunning visuals, the music and sound effects throughout are superb, and give the game a unique and spellbinding atmosphere.

The whole adventure can be polished off in around four hours. While that might seem a little on the short side, for 1000 Wii Points, I'm not complaining. It doesn't outstay its welcome and leaves the player eager for more.

Let's hope Frontier are in the process of creating part two.

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