We're one week into the North American debut of Nintendo's WiiWare service. Have you sampled any of the downloadable games yet? Only one of the available titles piqued my interest: the side-scrolling platformer LostWinds. It's a very charming game that stars Toku, a little fellow with a big red hat. He can walk and hoist himself up little vertical ledges, but it falls to the power of his wind spirit buddy, Enril, to turn him into a proper video game hero. Wiggling the Wii remote causes the wind to blow which is used to heave objects, fire, water, and even Toku himself around the land. There's definitely a story going on in LostWinds, but admittedly it's not very memorable. I've completed the three-hour adventure and still have no idea why I performed the tasks I was assigned. There's something about driving evil from the land and a bit about restoring someone's lost memories, but that's about all I retained.
It's a challenge to compare LostWinds to a specific familiar franchise. There are Metroid-like elements, but no deadly monsters to blast (enemies can be blown away, but not directly attacked by Toku). There are switches and gates that call up some Legend of Zelda memories, but the epic story is just not there (or, at least, wasn't retained after playing). The game includes a little walking and wind-assisted jumping, but it's not really a Super Mario type of adventure either. There are familiar elements at work, sure, but the experience feels fresher than I'd anticipated. I like the wind gimmick; unlike past wind-related games such as The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, I actually feel in control of the breeze in LostWinds. I play as the wind. Toku is just a puppet.