Outside of Nintendos first party games, there are not many Wii games that make good use of the Wiimote. When the Wii first came out it was sold as being very developer friendly. A short time after they mentioned WiiWare and the ability for indie developers to publish their games on the console. Now we have the first WiiWare games released and one in particular stands out – Lost Winds.
Lost Winds seemed to come out of nowhere, only being announced a month or so before it’s release, and looked to be a stand out example of indie ingenuity.
Lost Winds has it’s grounding in the platform genre, but it spreads it’s wings and flies when it comes to the unique features. On screen the Wiimote is used to control a blue cursor that represents the wind spirit Enril. With the power of the wind you can lift Toku, the main character, carrying him across gaps and around the environment. As the story progresses new skills and abilities are unlocked and you get to interact with other objects and elements.
The controls are incredibly intuitive. It does take a little while to get going but the game introduces new elements in a well thought out progression, so you rarely struggle. There is clearly some inspiration taken from the Zelda series in the way that skills are learnt and the levels are structured. You often revisit old locations using new skills to access previously unreachable areas.
The environment is also very interactive. Causing wind gusts not only lifts and carries Toku but it moves grass and trees, lifts and throws rocks, and in later areas lets you control the path of fire.
Lost Winds is presented as a 2d game playing in a 3d environment, which is almost essential considering the wind based control scheme. The visuals are wonderful and, whilst a touch simplistic, serve the game perfectly.
The primary challenge in the game is the controls, learning to move Toku around the world. Before playing I was concerned that there would be some Super Monkey Ball style levels of frustration. When it comes to games I don’t have a lot of patience and I was concerne that there would be parts where I would get stuck. There were moments of this but it always felt like the problems were mine and not the fault of the game so I persevered. As the game progressed the controls became second nature and revisiting the previously troublesome areas proved easy.
The secondary challenge comes from the games enemies. These enemies are a representation of the evil that has been unlocked, and they don’t prove much of a challenge, however some of the later enemies are useful in other ways…
Lost Winds is quite a short game it took me a little under 3 hours to finish, but it is exceptional fun while it lasts and is a great example of the types of games possible from WiiWare. It is also the first chapter in what will hopefully be an epic series.