Latest Game Reviews

LostWinds Review - Wii

8.5
Gameplay: 8 stars 8
Graphics: 9 stars 9
Audio: 8 stars 8
Multiplayer: 5 stars 5
Innovation: 9 stars 9
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Introduction

According to whispers from the development community, the maximum size Nintendo allows for a downloadable WiiWare title is forty-three megabytes. Yep, just forty-three. To put that into perspective, that’s roughly one seven-minute standard definition video podcast, or eighteen minutes of 320 kbps MP3s. It’s staggeringly small for a game. And yet, there are many talented developers who have taken up the challenge and are bringing their unique game ideas to the platform. One of these is Frontier Developments, their game is called LostWinds, and it’s freaking awesome.

Gameplay

The story is simple. You control a boy called Toku, who has to save the world of Mistralis from the rising powers of an elemental called Balasar, with the help of wind elemental Enril. The control stick on the nunchuk controls Toku, with the wind being controlled by the pointer of the Wiimote. There’s very little forced plot progression besides the occasional chat with a villager, but as the story progresses you can’t help but feel caught up in something of importance. Loath as I am to give away spoilers, I don’t think it ruins much to say that not everything is neatly wrapped up at the end of the game, which bodes well for a continuation of Toku’s adventures.

Toku can do little but run, climb and pull seeds from the ground, but Enril lends a hand by controlling the wind. Hold down A or B and draw a line, and when you release it a gust of wind will blow along that path. So to jump, you simply swipe upwards and Toku will be temporarily lifted up into the air. You can link a second jump in to get to higher platforms, and can manoeuvre rocks and defeat enemies with carefully drawn gusts. I hesitate to elaborate on some of the later abilities you uncover because they’re so charming to discover on your own. Although there are admittedly few compared to a full-length game, the game doesn’t really tell you how to work them or combine the abilities, so you’ll be able to uncover some pretty cool little tricks just by experimenting with your various skills.

In many ways, LostWinds hearkens back to an earlier period of gaming, where your hand wasn’t held and you were left to work out what to do, how to do it and where to go. Many times throughout the four or so hours you’ll get out of the adventure, I was struck by a feeling of nostalgia. It’s in some respects very like the original Metroid game. You have no map, no company and no real idea where to go for large stretches of time. It’s not so labyrinthine, alien or gloomy as that game, but in many ways it’s a modern ‘Metroidvania’. As you work your way through the multiple levels and different regions of the world, you’ll unlock new abilities for Enril and Toku that makes traversing the environment easier and provides access to new areas, new heights and through new doors. It’s classic game design, ...

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