Like the bad boy that every girl finds impossible to resist, Frontier Developments‘ sequel to their platform-adventure LostWinds ($3.99) from last year isn’t always easy to control. Precision is not LostWinds2: Winter of the Melodias’ ($3.99) best feature. With the sheer amount of things that LostWinds2 can occasionally demand of its players, this would normally be almost unforgivable but much like the hypothetical rapscallion, LostWinds2 is just too charming to give up.
Set shortly after the events of the first game, LostWinds2 follows the continuing adventures of the chubby-cheeked Toku, a brave and impossibly adorable young boy, and his companion Enril The Wind Spirit. After a brief introductory sequence, one that features a number of piscine-looking critters, you find yourself in control of Toku. His mother Magdi has somehow gone absent and it is your duty to go look for her. This eventually segues into an exploration of some phenomenally gorgeous places, the acquaintanceship of some new friends and an encounter with old evils.
Have I mentioned the fact that LostWinds2 is absolutely stunning? Yes? The music, the character design, the visuals – they all come together to make LostWinds2 beautiful with a capital B. The lush visuals are informed with such attention to detail, they would probably bring a tear to Walt Disney’s eyes were he still alive. Every swipe of a finger will cause grass to bend and petals to cascade from trees. When Toku slides across icy terrain, he bobs and sways, looking for all the world like the wide-eyed child that he is. Even the parallax backgrounds are more than magnificent-but-static pieces of eyecandy. Here, the backgrounds are rife with stuff like the occasional lurking enemy and behemothic reformed villains out to make our life easier. (You’ll understand in the first five minutes. Trust me on this.)
Shameless, wanton gushing aside, LostWinds2 is, I’m happy to say, more than a pretty face. For those unfamiliar with the original, much of Toku’s herculean tasks are, in fact, accomplished by the intangible Enril. Being a rather formidable Wind Spirit, Enril is kinda awesome at doing things like guiding flames from a torch into an icy wall, smashing Gloops into hard surfaces, relaying Toku from one ledge to another and snowballs. Not much is needed to accomplish these feats. Most of the time, all the game will require from you is a careful swipe of a finger or a well-timed pinch. Control of Toku works on a similar premise. In order to move him from one end of the map to another, you simply tap on the corresponding side. It’s that simple. Mostly.
Eight times out of ten, you will be able to hit that switch, drag that torrent of flame into that wall of brambles, flip Toku across the ravine and beat down that Gloop all in one glorious show of hand-eye coordination. Those other two times? You’re going to have to pick yourself up and try and try again. Toku will inexplicably float along with an updraft that you manufactured in spite of the fact he should be too far away to be affected. A hard swipe will occasionally cause an enemy to sit on the wall instead of exploding into blob-like bits. From time to time, things will just go wrong. There’s no better explanation for it. Fortunately, however, it’s an infrequent occurrence. So long as you’re willing to deal with the initial learning curve, your experience with LostWinds2 will be mostly favorable. That is, of course, if you are willing to brave this final caveat.
If you want to play LostWinds 2, you should probably be okay with a little bit of Metroid in your life. Frontier Development’s sequel to the original is not a game that exemplifies instant gratification. Backtracking will happen. Those who must simply acquire every collectible (a lot of the tale is told through scrolls that have been scattered across this lovely world) will find themselves wandering the game’s many nooks and crannies. If you can’t stand the idea of revisiting locations repeatedly (never mind the fact that you can change the seasons on whim, something that helps alleviates the tedium), you may want to consider giving this one a miss.
Everybody else? Buy it. You won’t regret it. LostWinds2: Winter of the Melodias is a beautifully presented bit of childlike magic and irrefutable proof that wholesomeness does not necessarily have to be boring.