Wii

North America

LostWinds

by Steven Rodriguez - May 16, 2008, 9:58 pm PDT
Total comments: 37

8

Frontier's WiiWare launch title is fantastic. However, there's something you should know about it...

As one of the launch titles for WiiWare, LostWinds is venturing out into unknown territory. With no existing games against which to compare its title, Frontier may have felt like it had to take a shot in the dark when prepping to release its ambitious little game on Nintendo's new download service.

Thankfully for all of us, LostWinds hits its mark. The gameplay is fresh and novel, the game is beautiful, and most importantly it's a great deal of fun. It's a fantastic game in just about every aspect ... except for one crucial element. But I'll get to that later.

The concept of LostWinds is to use the Wii Remote pointer to “draw” wind currents on-screen to create wind gusts that aid our hero Toku. These gusts help him climb up ledges, move around obstacles, and sometimes break his fall. They also play a crucial role in puzzle-solving. Moving boulders around and directing streams of water and fire are important tricks to master if you want to progress through the game's areas, which feature progressively more complex puzzles to tackle.

Manipulating the wind is very easy to do. There's no need to quickly draw out wind gusts, so if you have bad aim with the Wii Remote you can methodically trace out straight lines or curves and you’ll get the full force of wind along your path. You can slow down the action dramatically by holding down the A Button, during which time you'll have ample opportunity to create your wind path. This is also handy when dealing with enemies, who can be defeated by smashing them against the ground with wind forces or blowing them off of the screen.

The controls have a learning curve, but it's mostly because there haven't many games before LostWinds that lets you indirectly control your main character in this fashion. Once you get the upgrades that allow you to perform multiple wind gusts in one go (and literally fly wherever you want for a limited period of time, which is pure awesome), the controls will feel so natural and comfortable that you’ll wish you could do the same stuff in Super Mario Galaxy.


Here's some direct-feed footage of LostWinds in action.

Speaking of Galaxy, it's got company when it comes to looks. LostWinds is an absolutely gorgeous game. When you first walk into the central hub town and witness the pink-leaved trees, lazy windmills, and the softness of the landscape in the distance you’ll pause in respect. Everything above ground is lush and colorful. Though the color pallet changes to dark and muted when you venture underground, the details still remain in the background. In the mines, for example, the background suggests that they have no end in sight, yet you can clearly see old mine carts and other objects in the distance.

The star of the show is the game world itself. Although you're technically in control of Toku, most of your attention will be on the Wii Remote pointer cursor, also known as the wind spirit Enril. Passing the cursor over any object in the game world will cause it to react as if it were blown by the wind. If you streak the cursor across a tree, for example, the tree's branches will be pushed back in the direction of the wind gust and leaves will be blown off of it. Everything you do is reflected in the game world in some way, so there's never a dull moment. Because you're in control of this and will always see it happen, it feels as if the world you're playing in is alive.

This feeling makes LostWinds a fun and relaxing game to play. It's got some challenging bits in it too, so don’t assume it’s going to be a total a walk in the park. However, there is one nagging issue I have about the game that I just can't seem to get out of my mind; one that I feel blunts the game's enjoyment factor somewhat.

The intro to LostWinds sets up a grand story about the land of Mistralis, the evil spirit Balasar, and how Toku and Enril must work together to prevent him from taking over the world. The game progresses not unlike other platformers, in which the initial areas are something of a tutorial and the the difficulty slowly ramps up as you become more familiar with the game. After two or three hours of gameplay, you meet the first boss. Once you defeat him, you're given more insight into things with a continuation of the story. Just as it appears the game will move on to the next area, it abruptly tells you “To Be Continued...” and you're left with no more game to play, even with plenty of story left to go.

The beef I have with LostWinds is that I personally feel a little misled regarding the content of the game. It's not because three (extremely enjoyable) hours out of a WiiWare game is necessarily a bad thing (there's nothing to compare it to yet), but because there was every indication from the start that the game housed a full adventure, and not just what looks to be one chapter of a larger story. This is especially true since Frontier has announced a LostWinds “sequel,” further implying the first game was a complete work. This is far from the case. I wouldn't be as critical if the game were entitled “LostWinds: Episode One” or something to that effect, because then I would have known what I was getting into before I started. However, not knowing about it until the abrupt end of the game makes me feel if I was hit with the ol' switcheroo.

To be fair, this WiiWare thing is still new to everyone, including me. I probably should have expected to see a game of about this length given the size and price of the download. Then again, LostWinds looks and plays so much like a top-flight standard Wii game that getting only three hours out of it feels like disappointment, because I want to play more of it. A lot more of it.

The bottom line on LostWinds is that it's a marvelous little game which everyone should play, but with the caveat that it ends abruptly and will have you passionately craving more when it’s done. That such a grand game could be packed into Nintendo's draconian file size restriction might even be considered a technical marvel, all things considered. LostWinds is the perfect game to kick off the dawn of WiiWare, and considering what it brings to the table it's great to imagine the possibilities – not only for the next games in Frontier's series, but for future WiiWare games as well.

Score

Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
9 8 9 8.5 5 8
Graphics
9

The art style and the depth of the backgrounds, combined with the interactivity of objects, people, and the wind make the world of LostWinds feel real and alive. Above ground, the colors will pop. Below ground, the atmosphere takes over.

Sound
8

A light soundtrack keeps things moving, but you'll mostly hear the gust of winds as it propels Toku around levels, rustles the leaves off of trees, and pancakes enemies. The relaxing nature of audio adds to the relaxing nature of the game.

Control
9

It's a ton of fun controlling the wind. It doesn't take long to be able to do things like wind-aided double and triple-jumps, or float safely to the ground after a long fall. Everything feels very natural and sensible. The only thing that breaks it up is enemy combat, which feels out-of-place and clunky at times.

Gameplay
8.5

Although there are enemies to deal with, LostWinds is primarily a platformer with puzzle elements. Many of the puzzles wouldn't be out of place in a traditional platforming game, but everything has a fresh perspective because of the indirect nature of the wind control and the new abilities you can unlock. Despite the limited amount of abilities at your disposal, they do not feel repetitive.

Lastability
5

LostWinds has every indication of being a full-blown adventure, but it ends like smashing into a brick wall. The game takes around three hours to complete, but it feels like a lot less. You can collect extra items which are hidden throughout the game world, but getting all of them doesn't unlock anything. This makes the game a one-and-done kind of deal, although you may go back and play it from time to time just to appreciate its beauty and play around with the wind.

Final
8

LostWinds is a very fun ride while it lasts. Technically, it's brilliant. However, the fact that it cuts itself short in the way that it does cannot be ignored, even for a WiiWare game. Despite that, playing through it will bring you a sense of joy and wonder like few other games. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for something different to , and to those who are not quite sure what to purchase as their first WiiWare download.

Summary

Pros
  • A fun, relaxing way to spend a few hours
  • Wii Remote feels natural and is well-incorporated into the game
  • World looks absolutely beautiful and feels alive
Cons
  • "Ending" will leave you wanting more, because it feels like the rest of the game is missing
  • Little reason to play the game again after beating it
Review Page 2: Conclusion

Talkback

ATimsonMay 17, 2008

Ouch. That's one hell of a caveat.

The beautiful thing about not having the blocks for this and having to wait a little while until I can scrounge them up is I know from everyone's complaining that it's only 3 hours and more like a first chapter, and because I know I can adjust my expectations and not be blindsided by that fact. That way it won't be a big disappointment and I'll probably enjoy the game more.

KDR_11kMay 17, 2008

Sounds like Golden Sun...

Nick DiMolaNick DiMola, Staff AlumnusMay 17, 2008

You know, even though the game is short, it really is a blast to play through. I'll definitely be playing through again.

The caveat of how short it is needed to be addressed though. By all accounts it seemed like the game was going to be longer. I'm guessing Frontier knew they had enough good PR spin to move the game that they cut it down and moved the rest of it to part 2. This allowed them to easily make the Wii Ware launch and outshine the competition, capitalize on all the work they put in already and have a second half that people pretty much need to buy that they can again make a bundle on. If you ask me, that was pretty damn ingenious. Sure it sucks for us, but it will probably prove to other companies that WiiWare is a worthy investment.

PaleMike Gamin, Contributing EditorMay 17, 2008

This is interesting, because I've already got over 10 hours into My Life as a King....

Price difference vindicated?

PaleMike Gamin, Contributing EditorMay 17, 2008
MorariMay 17, 2008

It's only three hours long?!

I was thinking about getting the game, but that short of a time seriously makes me question my ten dollars worth.

Quote from: Mr.

You know, even though the game is short, it really is a blast to play through. I'll definitely be playing through again.

The caveat of how short it is needed to be addressed though. By all accounts it seemed like the game was going to be longer. I'm guessing Frontier knew they had enough good PR spin to move the game that they cut it down and moved the rest of it to part 2. This allowed them to easily make the Wii Ware launch and outshine the competition, capitalize on all the work they put in already and have a second half that people pretty much need to buy that they can again make a bundle on. If you ask me, that was pretty damn ingenious. Sure it sucks for us, but it will probably prove to other companies that WiiWare is a worthy investment.

I don't think this was the case. Developers have said that the Wii Ware size limit is 43 MB, some quick math reveals that LostWinds is about 35. It seems like splitting it into multiple games is a way of getting around the size limit.

Quote from: Morari

It's only three hours long?!

I was thinking about getting the game, but that short of a time seriously makes me question my ten dollars worth.

A 3 hour game for $10 is the same time to price ratio as a 15 hour game for $50, and those are pretty common.

WindyManSteven Rodriguez, Staff AlumnusMay 17, 2008

Quote from: insanolord

A 3 hour game for $10 is the same time to price ratio as a 15 hour game for $50, and those are pretty common.

This is very true.  I figure if this game winds up being four of five chapters, the price will be worth it so long as the playtime balances out in the end.  However, I actually beat the game in two hours and change, so for me it feels a lot less.  If I only get 10 hours out of an ultimately $50 purchase, I might be alright with it.  It depends if the next games expand upon what's in this first game rather than just be more of the same.

And like I said in the review, 3 hours for 10 bucks may or may not be a good thing.  That's up for you guys to decide.  However, I don't like the fact that the game didn't make it clear to you that that was going to happen until the last panel of what ultimately became the game's outro.  Not very forward-thinking.

Bill AurionMay 17, 2008

Quote from: WindyMan

However, I actually beat the game in two hours and change, so for me it feels a lot less.

Boooo, you didn't spend time experimenting with the wind or savoring the beautiful locations at all!  About four hours of time put in overall for me! =D

MorariMay 17, 2008

Quote from: insanolord

A 3 hour game for $10 is the same time to price ratio as a 15 hour game for $50, and those are pretty common.

Those games are generally just as overpriced. :P

DAaaMan64May 17, 2008

Quote from: Morari

Quote from: insanolord

A 3 hour game for $10 is the same time to price ratio as a 15 hour game for $50, and those are pretty common.

Those games are generally just as overpriced. :P

Not arguing that ;)

Interesting to see the difference in how LostWinds is being seen as opposed to Portal.  They are both roughly the same length (Portal is slightly longer, but not much).  I think the difference is that LostWinds is shorter than it leads you to expect, whereas Portal is actually longer than it leads you to expect.

MorariMay 17, 2008

Portal was a great value if you bought it within the Orange Box though.

D_AverageMay 18, 2008

Additionally, Portal included a creepy, yet catchy pop song at the end. 

WindyManSteven Rodriguez, Staff AlumnusMay 18, 2008

Quote from: Bill

you didn't spend time experimenting with the wind

You need a game to do that.  I don't!

Quote from: Jonnyboy117

Interesting to see the difference in how LostWinds is being seen as opposed to Portal.  They are both roughly the same length (Portal is slightly longer, but not much).  I think the difference is that LostWinds is shorter than it leads you to expect, whereas Portal is actually longer than it leads you to expect.

Also consider that Portal was really a "bonus" game tacked onto what was already the "deal of the century."  I got the same is that it? feeling when I beat Portal, but because I still had Half Life 2 and Team Fortress 2 (my new addiction) still to play in the Orange Box, I was alright with it.  Looking back on it, Portal was just the right length for what it was, or rather, what it has become.

I'm starting to be alright with the length of LostWinds, but it still bothers me quite a deal that it's advertised as a full adventure and ultimately turns out to be the first chapter of it.  Also:

Quote from: D_Average

Additionally, Portal included a creepy, yet catchy pop song at the end. 

This made Portal worth it no matter how long (or short) it was.

KDR_11kMay 18, 2008

Portal is a game I'm interested in (I've heard that it was only one hour long so 4 sounds linger than I thought) but unfortunately it only comes in 20 and 50 Euro packages (I'm not interested in the HL2 Eps as I haven't finished HL2 and don't care much for TF2 either). 10 for a slightly shorter game is probably more worth it but yeah, a game should have a proper ending, not just "to be continued". I hated Golden Sun for ending a third into the story.

MorariMay 18, 2008

I was alright with Shenmue and Shenmue 2 ending as mere bookmarks in a larger story. That's a very rare, specific case however. Both of those games were already huge, so it didn't exactly feel like a cop out. It's only disappointing to the extent that I'll probably never see the rest of the story, and certainly won't be able to port my save file over again if so.

NinGurl69 *hugglesMay 18, 2008

Both Shenmue and Shenmue managed to get released before Too Human.

ATimsonMay 18, 2008

Quote from: KDR_11k

Portal is a game I'm interested in (I've heard that it was only one hour long so 4 sounds linger than I thought) but unfortunately it only comes in 20 and 50 Euro packages (I'm not interested in the HL2 Eps as I haven't finished HL2 and don't care much for TF2 either).

Portal is only $20, or about 13 Euros, through Steam.

Quote from: KDR_11k

I hated Golden Sun for ending a third into the story.

Personally, I thought that Golden Sun ended at a perfectly fine place. If nothing else, it would've been awkward as hell to shift narrative viewpoint halfway one game.

D_AverageMay 19, 2008

Just finished this last night and I too feel a bit duped as well w/ the length.  Had it said "Lost Winds Episode 1" with a seven dollar price tag, that would have been just about right.  Considering the game ends with "To be continued", this is entirely appropriate.

Nevertheless, the game was fun, relaxing, and a new experience and I'd highly recommend it, even at its $10 price point.

Tuxedo.BondMay 22, 2008

"wannabe badass." I like that. That's your new nickname.  8)

Quote from: insanolord

A 3 hour game for $10 is the same time to price ratio as a 15 hour game for $50, and those are pretty common.

But considering you can get a game like No More Heroes for under $20 bucks new(if you look around), it makes you think...

I hope the price drops in the future, but considering the nature of the distribution, I doubt it will happen soon.

After playing about an hour and twenty minutes into this game I have decided that I don't in any way regret buying 3 hours of this game for $10 and if they'd like to sell me another 3 hours of it for another $10 I'd take them up on it in a heartbeat.

animecyberratMay 23, 2008

the problem is some people rush through the game too quickly and complain about it. I have already been enjoying this game for fifteen to twenty minutes a day and it has lasted almost two weeks for me. But I knew it was short based on others experience and I never rush through any game.

DAaaMan64May 23, 2008

Quote from: animecyberrat

the problem is some people rush through the game too quickly and complain about it. I have already been enjoying this game for fifteen to twenty minutes a day and it has lasted almost two weeks for me. But I knew it was short based on others experience and I never rush through any game.

I didn't rush through it on purpose, I got addicted.  Thats a POSITIVE. My main complaint was the fighting, just seemed to be in the way and semi frustrating when there was more than 2 enemies.

animecyberratMay 23, 2008

yeah but once you get that move where you can spin one in the air and toss it at the others, it becomes more fun to go into a battle with tons of enemies. And when I say tons I mean three or four cuz so far there aren't more than that ever at a time.

DAaaMan64May 23, 2008

eh, I sit too close to the TV then(seriously), because drawing those circles is annoying.

animecyberratMay 23, 2008

that could be a problem in and of itself though.

DAaaMan64May 23, 2008

Sitting to close to the TV?  It IS the problem.

animecyberratMay 23, 2008

I meant it could be a part of a bigger problem.

DAaaMan64May 23, 2008

I waggle my dick?

animecyberratMay 23, 2008

???

DAaaMan64May 23, 2008

I'm just as confused as Bill is right now.

animecyberratMay 23, 2008

good, then I did my job.



DAaaMan64May 23, 2008

You made me like boyz??  ;)

KDR_11kMay 23, 2008

Quote from: WolfPac_Ite

But considering you can get a game like No More Heroes for under $20 bucks new(if you look around), it makes you think...

I wish... I've never seen NMH priced below 60 Euros.

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Genre Adventure
Developer Frontier Developments Ltd.
Players1 - 2
Controllers

Worldwide Releases

na: LostWinds
Release May 12, 2008
PublisherFrontier Developments Ltd.
RatingEveryone
jpn: LostWinds
Release Dec 24, 2008
PublisherSquare Enix
RatingAll Ages
eu: LostWinds
Release May 20, 2008
PublisherFrontier Developments Ltd.
Rating7+
aus: LostWinds
Release May 20, 2008
PublisherFrontier Developments Ltd.
RatingGeneral

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