15th Anniversary: LostWinds Launched Today

LostWinds, a WiiWare launch title and one of the console’s best bite-sized games, turns 15 in North America today.

Frontier Developments published LostWinds in the West, but Square Enix published it in Japan in December 2008. The game briefly appeared on iOS in 2011 and was added to Steam in 2016.

Frontier Developments’ LostWinds won IGN’s 2008 Best Use of the Wii-Mote award, which is highly coveted.

However, not everyone would have played this odd Zelda-like-Metroidvania back then. Toku, a young boy, meets Enril, a wind spirit, and sets out to defeat Balasar in LostWinds. Okay, Zelda? This game’s innovative control scheme—moving Toku with the Nunchuck and controlling the wind with the Remote—resonated with WiWare players. You play the wind.

A swish of the Wii-Mote sends a gust of air across the screen, lifting Toku into the sky or pushing nearby enemies into pits. After several minutes of throwing the child into the floor with a rogue downdraft, it’s a simple concept that leads to some fun weather-based platforming.

Making difficult jumps unlocks Splitstream, Vortex, and Jumbrella Cape, which help you reach previously unreachable areas. Metroidvanias are plentiful on the Switch eShop, but this structure’s use of the Wii’s motion controls was brilliant at launch.

LostWinds was a short Metroidvania, only three hours long. The puzzles were fun, and the soundtrack and visuals made you want to stay in Mistralis longer, but this was more of a freak gust than a long storm.

Guiding Toku with precise Remote movements created a touch-control-like experience. The 2011 iOS game was removed from the App Store due to game-crashing bugs. After the Wii Shopping Channel closed, the only way to play the game is on Steam, where it costs £6.99—fair considering its size.

Frontier Developments released LostWinds: Winter of the Melodias in 2009 and hinted at a third game in 2013, but it never happened.

We’re left with a tight Metroidvania WiiWare launch title with Zelda influences and a creative control scheme that would benefit from touchscreen support—it’s begging to be brought to the Switch, right? The game looks like a dream Switch port, but porting is expensive and the iOS removal in 2011 may show that touch controls are difficult to implement.

LostWinds’ flaws? Yes, but it was an example of designing a game around a home console’s quirks. Even if we never get a Switch port, many other games can learn from it.