It’s the gameplay that really makes LostWinds, however. The plot isn’t exactly fresh – a tale of boy meets wind spirit just in time to tackle recently awakened demon – but the mechanics are ingenious. You control the hero, Toku, on a 2D plane using the analogue pad on the Nunchuk. He’ll go left and right and handle smaller climbs or jumps himself, but for anything larger he’ll need your help. Here’s where the remote comes in.
By aiming the cursor, pressing the A button and drawing a line on the screen you can summon gusts that propel Toku in any direction. Up to a point, you can chain these gusts together to keep him moving in the right direction. What’s more, these gusts also affect objects in the environment, sometimes just as a background effect, sometimes with a purpose, as when you blow a flame into a briar barrier or water over a sprouting seed. This is a puzzle platformer, then, but a puzzle platformer with a difference.
You see, the gusts are just for starters. By the end of the game you’ll be able to draw currents that can carry Toku in their path or stream fire or water from place to place. You’ll be able to pick up rocks and other objects, hold them in place then propel them at high speeds. It’s all brilliantly done, and as the game throws in more and more complex combinations of ledges, chambers, gates, barriers, switches, seeds, rocks and weird humming balls, the puzzles that prevent you getting from A to B grow more and more intricate.
In terms of both puzzles and platforming, LostWinds hits an almost perfect balance between getting tricky enough to keep you engaged, but not so difficult that you should have to consult an FAQ. And the more you play, the more you’ll feel a sense of wonder that someone out there outside of Nintendo is able to come up with this sort of stuff and make it work.