LostWinds [$3.99] from Frontier was originally released for the Wii in 2008 and we've been waiting for the iOS port since it was reported in July. It's a beautiful adventure platforming game with puzzle elements, which rates highly in almost every way.
The story opens with little Toku asleep on the grass, but once you swipe him awake, there's a lovely layered platform world to explore, with pink trees, waterfalls, caves, villages and other characters to discover. Just tap the screen to walk in that direction, or hold your finger down for a second to keep moving automatically.
On the first level, you discover Enril the wind spirit and gain the ability to generate gusts of wind with a finger swipe. So if you swipe a plant it sways in the breeze, swiping a tree causes it to shake and rustle, while swiping a waterfall splashes water around. You can also swipe at objects - like large rock balls - to move them, or swipe burning fires to fan or direct the flames. These abilities help your search for the evil Balasar, so you can lift his dark curse.
You can also use your new wind-generating abilities to help Toku explore. Swiping upwards through Toku causes him to jump upwards, carried on a gust of wind. And as you progress, you unlock the ability to use double-gusts to blow him further. Toku can ascend to even greater heights by climbing inside a poyak plant, which spits him skyward, or by gusting him downwards into a large mushroom, for a trampoline effect. Alternatively, you could burn a poyak plant and take it's seed to plant strategically somewhere else, as a new jumping point.
There are enemies to avoid, including glorbs which cling to you and must be swiped away before they deplete one of your four lives. However, by swiping the background vegetation, blue birds fly into the sky and tapping enough of these eventually restores a life. Along the way you discover and activate statues which act as re-spawn points when you die.
With three game save slots, Game Center integration, innovative game-mechanics, a storyline, lovely graphics, interesting levels with multiple exits and a chilled-out soundtrack which I haven't tired off, Lost Winds was heading towards an easy five-star rating, however: As I mentioned at the start, this game rates highly in almost (but not quite) every way.
Sometimes the controls are frustrating. Especially when there's a series of double-gust jumps in a row, where a single failure causes you to fall and restart. After numerous attempts I walked away from my device in frustration, a few times. Other players in our discussion thread have described the wind controls as "unforgiving", which is a suitable description. Apparently the Wii version had a tiny pause before the jumps, which is missing from the IOS version, which could be a factor (as discussed in our latest TouchArcade podcast).
However, the jumps do get easier with practice. My two pro tips are: Run off ledges to automatically jump, rather than jumping off ledges manually and always swipe from directly below Toku in a straight line. That helps, a little.
Lost Winds is such a delightful game in all other regards that I'm still enjoying it, but the controls have tested my patience. If you're not a fan of swipe controls, you may want to wait and see if the developers make them more consistent, more responsive and more forgiving. As it stands, the controls are - at times - part of this games challenge. Yet, for large parts of the game, the controls are fine.
The sequel to Lost Winds, Winter of the Melodias, was released for Wii in 2009, so hopefully that will be ported that to iOS too, as it allows players to strategically switch between summer and winter and includes a new cyclone ability. In the meantime, keep an eye on our thread for any updates on the controls.
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