|System: Wii (WiiWare)||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Frontier Dev.||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Frontier||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 19, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
One old trick of the trade makes a return in Melodias, but it's used in new ways that make sense within the context of the game's theme. In areas where there's snowfall, you can form a vortex, which will create a snowball. You'll use these to break through walls of ice or weigh down plates to open doors.
Music also plays a fairly significant role in Winter of the Melodias - no big surprise, of course, considering the game's title. At certain points in the story you'll use the power of music to activate lifts or open doors, and again, it's an enjoyable gameplay tidbit that isn't overused.
There's no real combat in the game, though you will, once again, need to dispatch several types of glorbs. In most cases, a couple of Gusts will deal with these annoying buggers, but there are one or two bigger guys later on in the game that can be a real nuisance. It's also one of the few complaints I have with Melodias - the enemies are more of an annoyance than a challenge. That being said, their presence in the game fits the mythology and sensibilities of LostWinds perfectly.
As you make your way through the game world, you'll encounter a variety of interesting though subtle characters. Puzzle platforming remains the focus for most of the game, but you're never stuck doing the same things for long. The gameplay always feels fresh, and the addition of a map system makes navigation quite a bit easier than the first game. Along your journey, you'll stumble upon pages from Magdi's journal; it's a tasteful way to slowly pull back the curtain on Melodias' story.
In terms of visuals, Winter of the Melodias isn't just the best-looking game on the WiiWare platform, it's one of the best-looking games on Wii, period. The game isn't going to "wow" you with particle effects or bump mapping, but everything from the character models to the wonderfully ambient lighting exudes a love for the craft of game-making. As with the first game, the visuals don't just look pretty from a technical standpoint. The entire presentation comes together to create a moving and thoroughly enjoyable gaming experience.
The music is mostly more of the same, with the exception of moments when you're navigating winter landscapes. Recurring themes from the first game serve to solidify the powerful and inherently spiritual vibe of LostWinds, while new music adds a slightly haunting touch to the adventure. Sound effects are subtle but, matched with a touch of rumble feedback here and there, have a surprising amount of impact.
LostWinds: Winter of the Melodias is pretty much everything fans of the first game could have hoped for in a sequel, and it's more than inviting to newcomers, as well. The ending is a bit anticlimactic, but the game says a lot without words. The visuals, heart-tugging themes, and stellar level design come together to make for a truly magical journey. Though it might not trump the first game, Melodias is its equal in every way. There are some neat extras to enjoy, and collecting all of the game's 48 idols should keep completionists busy for a good while after the story ends.
CCC Freelance Writer