Games like this are the reason WiiWare and XBLA are a fantastic idea

User Rating: 8 | LostWinds: Winter of the Melodias WII
LostWinds: Winter of the Melodias is the sequel to LostWinds, an adventure/platformer also available on WiiWare. Costing 1000 points, it is well worth the investment for the amount of fun you'll have.

The story centers on a boy named Toku who, with the help of Anril, a wind spirit, is trying to save his mother from a dark illness. Using Anril's powers and the Wii remote, you can create gusts, vortexes and cyclones to work your way through various platform and mechanical puzzles. At first, the control scheme feels quite strange and sluggish but after a couple of minutes of play, it becomes incredibly smooth and intuitive. The main addition since the previous title is the power to switch between Summer and Winter, opening up the door for some Zelda-esque puzzles. During Winter, water turns solid and falling snow can be manipulated with your wind powers to create large snowballs. Conversely, in Summer, water flows freely and seeds can be sown in fertile soil to grow special plants which allow access to more areas. In addition to this, fire and water sources can be mobilized with a swish of the remote. The gradual introduction of each ability ensures the gameplay stays fresh.

Visually, the game is a treat of exceptional quality for a WiiWare title. Though there are only a few tilesets, they are beautifully made, with just the right amount of detail and embellishment. The majority of the environment is responsive to the wind powers and feels quite animated. Some of the effects in Winter are particularly great - Toku's visage warps as he passes behind sheets of ice and falling snowflakes dance and behave realistically when hit with the wind. Perhaps the game's best artistic achievement is the opening sequence in which you learn the controls with the help of a giant stone behemoth who climbs along with you in the background, lifting you up to unreachable plateaus when necessary. This section alone is rather inspiring and leaves you wondering what more could be done with such a premise. The score is generally quite subtle, though when it attracts attention it has a distinctly Eastern vibe. The main theme is reminiscent of a track from Final Fantasy VII. Regardless of whether that is a good or bad thing, it suits the moments for which it is played.

The issues this game has are mostly subjective or insignificant. Firstly, it is easy. You won't be stuck on anything for very long here unless you're new to the genre. Whether this detracts from the experience or not depends on what you're looking for; the innovative nature of the gameplay and control scheme does tend to draw one's attention away from the lack of challenge. Secondly, it is short. Again, this could be a good or bad thing. More plentiful and difficult puzzles would have been nice but, as it is, the game doesn't outstay its welcome. Upon completion, the only incentive for replay is to collect any secrets you may have missed along the way; there are 58 in total, most of which are not exactly hidden. The only actual issues the game has are the combat being, once again, easy but also somewhat arbitrary as enemies pose more of a bother than a threat. You can simply toss them aside with a gust of wind and keep on going. The only time combat becomes a challenge of any sort is when you encounter a larger enemy or during the final sequence. There is also a brief time at the start of the game where Winter areas cause you to lose health if you are away from a heat source for too long. The implicit prospect of dealing with this for the whole game is quite off-putting, but thankfully it is remedied a short while later.

Overall, you will likely have more fun with this than certain grown-up, full-price games; 1000 points being quite adequate for what you get. Though it doesn't reach the levels of brilliance set by titles like Braid or Portal, Winter of the Melodias is certainly on their shelf and is another name to add to the niche of concise and innovative games. Its unique controls and gameplay mechanics make it stand out on the Wii and in the adventure/platform genre general. That said, if a fast-paced or challenging game is what you are looking for, you won't find either of those qualities here.