You may consider it strange for us to tell you that a small, downloadable 2D game is one of the most significant Wii releases of the year so far. “But Mario Kart!”, you may protest. “But Brawl!” The thing is though, as excellent as both of those games undoubtedly are, they’re not really Wii games.
Without wanting to be wrongly labelled as part of the “Two Gamecubes taped together” brigade, we have to point out that, Wii Wheel aside, they’re both essentially last-gen productions on a current-gen format. They’re superb examples of their respective genres of course, but in lieu of extra horsepower the Wii’s manifesto has always been to bring us new experiences and find new angles from which to approach old ones. And that’s where LostWinds comes in.
Think of it as a next-gen Metroid, only next-gen in terms of game mechanics rather than HD presentation. You’ll be controlling Toku, a marvellously be-hatted young scamp who lives in the beautiful but cursed land of Mistralis. And when we say ‘controlling’, we don't mean in the traditional sense.
While Toku can be moved left and right with the analogue stick and will perform small auto-jumps over gaps, he’s really rather useless in all other respects. Enter Enril, the game’s second protagonist. Enril is Mistralis’ wind spirit, represented on-screen by a Wiimote-controlled cursor. It is largely through Enril that you’ll be forging Toku’s path through the world, using her elemental abilities to manipulate the environment and Toku himself.
Hold down the A button and swipe Enril across the the screen and she’ll leave a gust of wind in her stead, directly affecting whatever it touches. Swipe upwards through Toku’s body and he’ll jump many times higher than he could unassisted. Swipe horizontally as he jumps over the edge of a cliff and he’ll be carried across to safety. But crucially, none of this is implemented in a way which makes LostWinds the simple point and click game it may sound.
While the interface is simple and accessible through its tactility, that simplicity is used to facilitate greater and more nuanced control over Enril’s abilities. The controls aren’t dumbed down, they’re just made easy to use so that you can experiment freely. If you can’t do something in LostWinds, it’s just because you didn’t think of how to do it, not because you couldn’t pull it off. In terms of both its physical design and its implementation within the gameplay, LostWinds’ interface is one of the finest crafted we’ve ever seen.