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LostWinds: Winter of the Melodias Review - Wii

9
Gameplay: 8 stars 8
Graphics: 9 stars 9
Audio: 7 stars 7
Innovation: 8 stars 8
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Introduction

One of the first great games to debut on Nintendo’s then-fledgling WiiWare service was LostWinds, from developer Frontier Developments. The fresh, beautiful and invigorating platformer was a favourite of mine, and demonstrated a refined vision and delicate touch. Two years have passed, and the team are back with a sequel that adds to the concept in fantastic new ways.

Gameplay

Toku and Enril are back in a new adventure that picks up after the first, though is self-contained. There are a couple of shout outs to characters of the first game for the fans, but those new to the series needn’t worry about struggling to catch up. It’s a very friendly game that anyone can pick up. Toku’s search for his lost mother is universal and endearing, and is tastefully counterpointed with a mystery subplot in the prologue that reappears later.

The LostWinds formula is sort of a simple 'Metroidvania' – a 2D, side-scrolling adventure with a focus on exploration rather than action. You control Toku with the nunchuk’s analogue stick, and point at the screen. The reticule represents Enril, the wind spirit, and by pressing A and B you can channel currents of air to make Toku jump, or to carry water or fire as needed. You’ll uncover shrines that reward you with new abilities, most notably the new whirlwind power that lets you reach higher places, burrow into loose soil, and carry water in clouds to new locations. Plus, there are forty-eight Melodia idols hidden all over the world to collect, which unlock secrets.

The big addition this time around is the ability to switch back and forth between winter and summer seasons. Pools of water freeze, changing the landscape and allowing for some clever platforming puzzles, particularly when incorporated with the ability to move water around the stages. Passages that you could swim through are inaccessible, while rushing streams you couldn’t overcome can now be climbed. This underlines the big new push of the game – variety.

The first game, while charming, was at its heart just a navigation game, with each room in effect a small puzzle. Here, everything has been expanded. There are parts where you have to complete small side missions to collect items before progressing forward. There are mini-bosses, new enemies and clever puzzles. Towards the end you even gain control of another character, and need to use the abilities of both characters to navigate co-operative puzzles and defeat the finale boss. Your abilities have grown, the world has grown (and thankfully has a map) and everything just feels more fleshed out.

At the same time, there are a few minor quibbles. Swimming feels very slow, and while logically the wind can’t really accelerate a body underwater, from a gameplay perspective it would have been nicer to have a bit more speed. Similarly, when you’re trying to keep track of a second player that for a lot of the time is AI-controlled, it would be nice if it could keep up with you a little ...

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