LostWinds was seen as the cream of WiiWare’s launch title crop when the service debuted in 2008, and the original is still,without question, one of the best games on WiiWare. So naturally, when the sequel toLost Winds, Winter of the Melodias, launched on WiiWare in October of 2009, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the title. However, as we all now, life can get in the way sometimes and I never really got a chance to play the title. Now, almost three years later, I’ve taken the time to go back and give the sequel to one of the best games on WiiWare a shot.
The LostWinds series finds you in control of Toku, a young villager who is in possession of a crystal that houses the trapped spirit of wind, Enril, inside of it. With Enril’s help, Toku was able to cleanse his village of the evil that was unleashed upon it in the first game. However, much to gamers’ dismay, the original game ended on a cliffhanger. Thankfully, Winter of the Melodias picks up exactly where LostWinds left off with the final boss of the first game, now cleansed of evil’s influence, helping Toku and Enril to reach a mountain where Toku’s mother Magdi has gone missing.
It turns out though that the once warm Summerfalls Mountain has now completely frozen over and the evil monsters who were infesting Toku’s village have also appeared on the mountain. So, of course, Toku and Enril have to rid the mountain of evil, find out what caused the mountain to freeze, and find Magdi.
First and foremost, each of Enril’s abilities from the first game are still available from the start. There’s no sequence in which Toku magically loses all of his wind powers and has to find them all over again and players who may have forgotten how to use all of the old abilities will be given a short tutorial in the beginning of the game to refresh their memory. That said, the game instantly starts compounding new powers on top of the existing ones.
For example, the old vortex ability, which could be used to propel boulders into walls to break them, can now be used on the snow in Summerfalls to create snowballs, which can be thrown at icicles, tossed onto monsters or can be used to weigh down switches for puzzle solving. In addition to this change, Toku, who is still in the traditional summer garbs of his village, can now freeze in the harsh winter of Summerfalls if he does not find fire to warm him up in time. Eventually players will find new clothes that will permanently warm of Toku without the need for fire but in the early levels, the freezing mechanic provides a sense of urgency and danger that wasn’t really present in the first title.
The sense of danger that is provided by Summerfall’s harsh weather is something that Winter of the Melodias has really improved upon its predecessor. The original Lost Winds was not very difficult and it would take a lot for Toku and Enril to lose their health. This is obviously not the case with the sequel. Even after obtaining the warm suit that protects Toku from the snow, the game remains challenging.
The biggest difference between the two LostWinds games however, is Melodias‘ season change mechanic: Toku and Enril gain the ability to transform Summerfalls from a harsh winter environment into a warm summer one and vice-verse at special shrines that are scattered throughout the mountain. At the click of a switch, once frozen lakes will melt so that Toku can swim in them to collect items or solve puzzles. This mechanic, aside from changing up the game-play, provides a beautiful visual switch.
Speaking of the game’s graphics, Winter of the Melodias is unquestionably the best-looking WiiWare game available, even a year and a half after its initial release. Environments are lush and detailed and based on where Enril’s cursor is placed on the screen, the plant-life and the even the humans on Summerfalls Mountain will interact according to how the wind is blowing on them. It’s really a treat to look at and for Wii gamers playing on HDTVs, it’s one of the few Wii titles that actually looks noticeably better in high definition.
As a final note before I wrap up, I also wanted to mention that the collectibles in Winter of the Melodias are actually useful this time around. In the original game, little idols were scattered throughout the game’s world but there was no real intensive to collect them all. However, a “Secret” menu is now available on the title screen that unlocks new things based on how many of the little idols you can collect. There is also a new collectible in Melodias: Magdi’s journal entries. As Toku explores Summerfalls, he’ll pick up little pages from his lost mother’s journal that explain what has happened to her and gives the game a much deeper story than the first.
All in all, Lost Winds: Winter of the Melodias is a great example of a successful sequel. Not only does it improve upon its predecessor in every way, it also perfectly compliments it by enriching the story and play mechanics that were put into place in the original game. After playing this and the recently released Fluidity almost back to back, I’ve really gained a deep appreciation for the WiiWare service. There are lots of great titles available for it now and Winter of the Melodias is one that certainly should not be skipped.
VGTribune gives this game a 9.5/10
This review was based on a review copy of Lost Winds: Winter of the Melodias provided by Nintendo.