The opening sentence of Tom's LostWinds review described the game as "without doubt the premier WiiWare title currently available on Nintendo's new service". He was right, although such lofty praise may now have to be rethought. That's because UK developer Frontier is about to release the game's sequel, Winter of the Melodias, a title I had the pleasure of playing this week at a Nintendo press event.
Although plot wasn't the main draw of the first game, Frontier intends to further explore the pages upon pages of LostWinds lore it's already created with a better and more involved story. The adventure picks up only a few weeks after the first game. Toku and Enril the Wind Spirit are in search of his long lost mother, Magdi. As they approach Summerfalls Village they discover it's gripped in a bitter winter that seems to know no end and locals scarred stiff by the appearance of monsters. Don't tell anyone, but we'd say it's a good bet that ultimate LostWinds bad guy, Balasar, might have something to do with it. Expect character and plot development to feature more heavily this time around, and the appearance of cutscenes.
Winter of the Melodias builds upon all that was great about the original – the tight, pixel perfect side scrolling platforming, the Wii Remote-controlled wind, the gorgeous, enchanting graphics and the engaging puzzles – but it also adds a number of new features to the mix that should ensure an all-round bigger and more varied game.
Chief of these is the winter itself. In Winter of the Melodias, Sonté Spirit of Seasons grants Toku the power to instantly transform Mistralis between summer and winter. This has a number of gameplay effects. At its most basic winter will turn water into ice, creating platforms you're able to stand on, or, vice versa turn ice into water, creating a swimming pool our hero Toku can dive into and explore for hidden items.
Dive into? What? Toku can't swim! Easy there tiger. In Winter of the Melodias Toku can swim. It's one of his new tricks, in fact. He can't swim forever of course – he'll eventually run out of air – but that's okay, because holding down the B button on the Wii Remote and drawing a slip stream through the water will carry Toku along like a turtle riding an ocean current to Australia.
Developer Frontier has used this summer/winter dynamic to create platforming puzzles more complex than before. In one section I was faced with two holes in the ground, one filled with ice. The solution involved switching from winter to summer and back again. First, I switched to summer, turning the ice into water. Then I created a cyclone, another new ability, by circling the nunckuck. This cyclone sucked up the water, creating a cloud. I then used a gush of wind to send the cloud to the left, leaving it hovering above the second hole in the ground. Then, with a downward thrust of wind, the cloud rained, filling the hole with water. A quick switch to winter turned the water into ice. That's how you get ice from one hole into another, and is evidence that Frontier's claim that the game will be the first to incorporate a weather system into gameplay isn't a false one.