Review: LostWinds: Winter of the Melodias (WiiWare)

Is this Winter warmer as good as Toku’s first adventure?

LostWinds was one of WiiWare's launch titles, and is still one of the best games on the service. Now, almost a year and a half later, it has finally gotten its long-awaited sequel.

For the uninitiated, in LostWinds you took control of Toku, a young boy who found a magical crystal containing the spirit of wind, Enril. Using Enril, Toku could take advantage of the wind by manipulating it in various ways to solve puzzles and defeat enemies. Ultimately, Toku and Enril managed to rid their hometown of evil, but of course, the root of all the problems was not yet gone, leaving us waiting for the eventual sequel.

In this game, Toku is looking for his mother, Magdi, who has gone missing somewhere on the Summerfalls Mountain; a seemingly odd name, as the mountain is completely frozen over! As luck would have it, monsters have also appeared on the mountain, so the duo will have to get rid of them as well.

When you first start the game, you'll play a short prologue section as one of the titular Melodias. Right before something is about to happen, however, the progloue ends. Not much later you find out that these Melodias are now apparently a thing of the past: the only thing left of them is a ruined city on top of Summerfalls Mountain, leaving you to wonder what happened.

After this short introduction, control switches over to Toku, who almost instantly goes off in search of his mother on top of the mountain. Before he reaches the peak, the game throws a short tutorial section your way, a good thing as the first game was released over a year ago and you could easily have forgotten how to use certain moves. Each ability from the original game is still available, minus one: pay close attention to the beginning of the game and you'll see why it's gone!

The snowy environments of the mountain instantly offer new abilities and challenges - your old vortex ability, which could be used to propel objects in a given direction, can be used on falling snow to create snowballs, which in turn can be thrown or used to weigh down switches. The freezing cold is your biggest foe at the start: stay away from heat sources for too long and Toku will slowly begin to lose health to the frost. Thankfully, soon enough he gets a warm suit, meaning you no longer have to worry about it.

Not long after that, you'll begin to learn new abilities. The most important one by far is the ability to transform the mountain from a winter environment to a summer one, defrosting any lakes, removing icicles and more. Naturally, it can also be done in reverse, but you're only able to perform this switch at special shrines, as it'd be a bit too easy otherwise! There are a handful of other useful new abilities as well, but you'll have to find out about them yourself.

The game is quite a bit more story-driven this time; bit-by-bit you'll begin to unravel the mystery of the mountain and what exactly has happened to it and the Melodias, both by talking to people and finding pages of a journal written by Toku's mother. Aside from that, not much has changed, meaning you'll understand everything almost immediately and will have no trouble enjoying the game just as much as the first.

The original game has been compared to the 2D Metroid games quite frequently, and this sequel makes the comparison even easier. Frontier has made the great decision to add a map you can view at any time, so you can view exactly which rooms connect to which, and how many collectibles you're missing in each of them.

Speaking of collectibles, they actually have a use now: getting 100% in the first game did absolutely nothing, but this time, there is a "Secrets" menu you can access from the title screen, where you can unlock things by collecting all the well-hidden trinkets in the game.

The original game's graphics were great, but those here are absolutely stunning. It is without a doubt the best-looking WiiWare game yet, and you will be blown away by how good some sections look. The music is similar to that of the first game, it's mostly just atmospheric, and fits the environments well.

Conclusion

The biggest complaints about the original LostWinds were that it was too easy and therefore didn’t take long to complete. Thankfully, both of these issues have been addressed - the difficulty has been upped slightly and the game is quite a bit longer, taking about four hours to complete in its entirety. Frontier also kept in mind the saying that if something works, you shouldn't mess with it: the core gameplay is completely untouched, it's just been greatly refined. As such, if you liked the first game, you'll like this one even more. All the hype for it was completely justified.