Monday, May 12, 2008

Say It With the Power of Wind!

With Wii Ware finally launching in the US, it was only a matter of time before I sat down with one of my favorite games of this year's Game Developer's Conference: Lost Winds. To me it was the highlight of the Nintendo Wii presentation back at GDC and a reason to get excited about Wii Ware - the new risk averse way to digitally distribute games on Wii.

Not that Nintendo ever wants to excite me these days.

Nintendo has often worried me by overemphasizing on a different crowd of gamers - and I'm sick and tired of hearing the "Blue Ocean" analogy in every article I read these days (Oh, no! Wait!) At times it feels like nothing can be done to dissuade the once proud gaming giant from dumbing down another popular franchise for mainstream audiences. Mario Kart Wii and Super Smash Bros Brawl have both been prime examples of this awkward shift, empowering a new batch of gamers and that's slowly beginning to bug me.

Luckily, I have Lost Winds can keep me busy a little longer before Nintendo's strategy makes my head implode.

It's not that Lost Winds is some epic hardcore game in disguise - it's not at all. In fact, Lost Winds feels more in line with the type of games I want to experience on the Wii - games that experiment with control and find creative ways to look fascinating despite being presented on aging hardware. Aesthetically, the game is rich and vibrant with lush, pastel colors that create a soft, yet serene atmosphere for little Toku to roam - and it terrific art design. And controlling Enril the wind spirit by holding the A button and drawing the direction of the gust feels accurate, without over complicating matters with rote design techniques.

I often wonder if this game could have been cooperative. It certainly makes sense as a core feature that follows Nintendo's social gaming credo these days - well that is except online. Co-op could bolster this Lost Wind's potential as a franchise, and help it grow significantly past this first game.

After i play a little more Lost Wnds, I think after this I'll start a Game Diary like Stephen Totillo over at MTV. I genuinely like the idea of writing about the games that I play daily (and then later sobbing slowly over the little time that I have to play games nowadays).

Yep, I'll start that diary tomorrow.

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