LostWinds First Look

We take a look at this charming platformer where you control the wind with your Wii Remote.

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Nintendo will soon be staking its claim in the original downloadable games market with WiiWare. One of the first games to be released through this new service is LostWinds, a blend of old-school platforming and 3D graphics. The game's big feature is the ability to use the Wii Remote to harness the power of wind to aid the boyish protagonist Toku through assorted terrain and puzzles.

You control the power of wind with your targeting reticule. Toku controls the power of lumberjacks with his hat.
You control the power of wind with your targeting reticule. Toku controls the power of lumberjacks with his hat.

LostWinds is set in the world fantasy world of Mistralis, which has been cursed by an evil elemental spirit named Balasar. The key to defeating this sorcerer resides in the shattered pieces of the spirit stone, which contain fragments of Enril, the benevolent wind spirit. A young boy named Toku finds a fragment of this stone, which contains just enough traces of the spirit Enril to set him on a wind-powered course to collect the other pieces.

Toku and the wind spirit Enril's partnership works by dividing control between the Wii Remote and Nunchuk. You use the Nunchuk to control Toku, guiding him with the analog stick and performing various tasks with the C and Z buttons. Then, as mentioned earlier, you control various forces of wind with the Wii Remote. For example, if Toku faces a large drop from a high cliff to a low valley, you can ease the landing by holding A on the Wii Remote and sweeping the pointer side to side. This forms a pillow of air beneath Toku so that he floats safely to the ground. At other times, you'll need to propel Toku upward, in which case you'd make a vertical swipe to blast a gust of wind that shoots him to an otherwise unreachable platform.

LostWinds also uses this control scheme for the purpose of solving environmental puzzles. At one point in the game, you unlock a power called slipstream. This allows you to blow a gust of wind that transports fire instead of putting it out. You'll need to use this to get past doorways overgrown with twisted weeds and ivy. You'll also find appearances by the old platformer standby: pressure switches. When you encounter these segments, you'll need to use bursts of wind to propel a boulder onto these switches while guiding Toku through the gateway that opens as a result. Of course, you'll also encounter a number of minions along the way that need to be done away with using the assorted wind techniques you can unlock.

LostWinds' visual identity features a whimsical fantasy setting much like the Legend of Zelda series. Toku is portrayed as a small child with a cartoonish oversized head, but some of the enemies in the game are of the more frightening shadow-monster variety. The parts of Mistralis we had the chance to see ranged from dark caves to vibrant villages, all portrayed in a very charming artistic style. The combination of 3D landscapes with a traditional 2D side-scrolling view also gives LostWinds a nice appeal. You can expect to see it ready for download in May.

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