LostWinds Review

This review was written by GamerNode community member lskennedy!

WiiWare has been launched boasting 6 games — some made by major developers, and some pretty low key. Enter Frontier Developments, the company responsible for quirky titles such as Dogs Life and Thrillville: Off the Rails. Their best-known success was Roller Coaster Tycoon 3, and they have done little else of worth since, but with just one quick glimpse of the game on WiiWare I was sold.

The game has a pretty simple storyline. An evil old school Japanese spirit monger tried to take over the world and the four stereotypical elements came and defeated him. Of course, not everything goes to plan and the spirits are trapped in stones and spread throughout the land. A long time later, a small boy named Toku goes out wandering and falls through a hole, where he finds Enril, the wind spirit.

This is when the game gets really good, because this is also the most fun part. Enril allows Toku to do some pretty cool things, all while utilizing the Wii remote very effectively. Simple actions like jumping are executed by pressing the A button, which slows time, and then swiping the aiming reticule through Toku. Other actions can be performed such as making an object hover by drawing a circle around the object, or slowing your descent by swiveling the reticule back and forth. The gameplay becomes so fluent that you don’t even need to think about it; I found myself often doing the action before I even thought I needed to. It’s that fluent. In addition to the A button controls, you use the B button to guide elements and such from point A to point B, while the nunchuck is used for basic movement left and right.

LostWinds also boasts a combat system not used in any other game that I’ve seen. Depending on what you’re fighting you have to perform different actions, like throw them up, then down to make them explode (if they’re little blobs of goo, which resemble the slimes from Dragon Quest); or make them hover and then throw them against a ceiling. The little goobers are pretty cute, but some of them become annoying and difficult to kill, taking away the fun and causing the combat to become monotonous when it otherwise isn’t.

The game is beautiful for a downloadable game, with well-rendered textures, smooth edges, and pretty colors displayed on the TV. LostWinds also uses Bloom and HDR very nicely. Since the game has to be 40 megabytes or less I guarantee there’s a good amount of graphical effects in those blocks. There are a few times when the framerate can drop and cause slowdown, but it never really interrupted gameplay, it just took away that floating feeling I got whilst playing. The soundtrack fits well with the action displayed on the screen, but don’t expect more then a few tracks, including battle music which seems a little out of place.

If LostWinds had one weakpoint I had to pinpoint, it would be the puzzles. The puzzles range from easy to time-wasting, and the use of boulders in the puzzles causes a lot of frustration since moving boulders can be difficult to control. Sometimes the rocks roll off screen and won’t come back, and then you need to walk off screen and start the puzzle all over again, which is a huge pain as it resets the entire puzzle. Imagine this happening with puzzles that take 10 minutes or more to complete. The poor time management in LostWinds is compounded by the fact that the save points are few and far between, and when you want to save and do other things you have to backtrack to town for the most recent save point. When your schedule doesn’t revolve around gaming — which is the case for most people who buy these more casual games — that can be a huge strike.

Still, LostWinds is pretty impressive. I think the developer might have found its first original and defining IP, and its first good game since the days of Rollercoaster Tycoon 3. Even with the issues I mentioned above LostWinds is great, and for only 10 dollars it’s definitely worth a buy.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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