Review – LostWinds for iPad

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LostWinds for iPad, originally a 2008 WiiWare release for the Nintendo Wii, is now available on mobile platforms. Despite the game’s appearance, music and otherwise gorgeous presentation, it appears to be more successful for the Wii than the iPad – primarily in terms of how difficult the controls are on the mobile version.

LostWinds follows the adventures of a young boy named Toku, who has come across an ancient wind spirit by the name of Enril. The spirit is trying to protect Toku’s world of Mistralis from the evil curse placed upon it by Balasar, who wants nothing more than to destroy all that is good and pure. So Enril enlists Toku’s help by giving him the Power of the Wind. This allows Toku to dart across wide ravines, conjure tornadoes and make reeds rustle prettily.

One of the best things about this game is its appearance. This game does not try to look realistic, but instead presents a uniquely designed world that blends Asian-style landscapes with South American architecture and design. The ending result is simply magical. It reminds me of something Pixar might do – creating gorgeous, fleshed-out environments, while keeping characters like Toku more cartoonish in order to maintain the fantasy of the story.

Another great feature of this game is the music. While there’s not much of it and it tends to repeat throughout gameplay, I could easily listen to it over and over again. Whenever I found myself having to stop the game and do something else, I’d sometimes leave it on pause just so I could keep enjoying the gorgeous, Japanese-style instrumentation.

Unfortunately, the beauty of the game could not save it from the frustrations of the touchscreen controls. While the game’s movements would make sense with a Wiimote pointed at a screen, moving across the screen with a finger was difficult. The game’s main feature, the Power of the Wind, is just too sensitive on the mobile platform. Anywhere you swipe, you create wind.  So if you’re trying to jump to a higher platform, or scoot away an enemy blob courtesy of Balasar, an accidental press or swipe somewhere else could completely screw up the movement and lead you somewhere else, mostly falling down. I’ve repeated sections more often than I care to since I’ve fallen so many times.

In addition, oftentimes while playing this game the hand ends up blocking more than it should, since you’re having to swipe and press so many times in order to move around. Even with a screen the size of an iPad, and a hand I do believe to be rather feminine and on the smaller side, I kept having to immediately retract my hand after swiping so I can see where the darn kid was jumping or floating to. And more often than not, it was to the wrong darn place.

The story itself is okay, but not great. While I like the good vs. evil aspect, especially since it involves magical spirits and Captain Planet-esque powers, it’s not as well-explored as I would like. This, however, would definitely make it more attractive to a younger, juvenile audience. It’s definitely safe for all ages, although your kids might end up crying after poor Toku falls down the mountain for the umpteenth time.

If you’re looking for a casual game with gorgeous scenery, beautiful music and an amusing yet tame storyline, I definitely recommend giving this game a try. But I don’t think it’s a game to dedicate your life to playing all the way through, since it’d be just too hard.

Here’s an App Store link for LostWinds for iPad; it’s priced at $3.99.

Disclosure: LostWinds for iPad was independently purchased by this site’s editor-in-chief. For further information regarding our site’s review policies, please see the “About” page.

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Beth Elderkin

News Producer at Time Warner Cable News
Beth Elderkin is an award-winning multimedia journalist currently working as a news producer in Austin, Texas. She's been a game reviewer for iPad Insight since 2011, and also runs a gaming blog at easymodego.tumblr.com.

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