I have said several times that I am more excited for Wiiware than I am for any future Xbox Live Arcade titles or PlayStation Network releases. The Wii may not have a hard drive or the graphical capability of the aforementioned systems, but what it lacks in power it makes up for with the its unique controller, which is the reason I believe Wiiware titles have the capability to go greater distances. LostWinds is exactly what I anticipated a Wiiware title should be, and is easily the best in the first batch of titles for the service. Compared to the rest of its downloadable brethren, LostWinds is the most complete experience and overall, one of the better games for the Wii.
Players assume the role of Toku, a young boy who is given the power to control the winds by a wind elemental named Enril. Movement is controlled with the analog stick on the nunchuck and most other facets of the game are done using the motion sensing capabilities of the remote. Moving objects, spreading fires, breaking doors, and even jumping are completed with swipes and lines drawn on the screen.
The game’s developer, Frontier, shows a great understanding of the system’s hardware and presents some of the best graphics I’ve seen on the system. The gameplay is extremely fleshed out, especially for such a small title. Even the background objects can be interacted with using simple swipes of the remote. If it were a little more polished I would compare it to games like Zelda or Okami, but it isn’t quite there yet.
There are a few problems in the game that can attributed to the title being rushed out the door to meet the Wiiware launch. The lack of a map is detrimental, as much of the game requires backtracking after acquiring new abilities, not unlike the Metroid series. This can lead to frustration as you may find yourself wandering back to an area that is of no use to you late into the game. The controls can also be kind of confusing at times or not as accurate as they should be, but the game is too short for it to become overly frustrating.
I am shocked that the developer was able to fit this great of a game onto Wiiware with the size restrictions, and should allay any fears anyone has of size being a problem in the future. The game isn’t very long and can be completed in just over three hours, but at the price of $10 you would be insane not to buy it.
It is easy to jump on board the Wii-bashing bandwagon for having a huge library of mediocre to abysmal titles, but it is just as easy to overlook gems like this. If you want to play a good Wiiware game, a good Wii game, or even just a good game, I highly recommend LostWinds. It may seem like an example of how a game can stand out by being the biggest fish in a small pond, but even when compared to similar titles on other consoles, LostWinds holds up.