Nintendo ain't just for kids anymore. The company has worked hard to reach out to gamers of all ages—through shots of old people boxing, hipsters mixing mojitos with Mario, and the strange way grown adults can take Super Smash Bros. Brawl very, very seriously. But the problem with mixing your demographics is that the games for kids are no longer cordoned off. In the case of LostWinds, indie developer Frontier has made a short, charming platformer that's a little thin for grown-ups, but excellent for younger players.
LostWinds never gets better than in the first few minutes, when you start sweeping the cursor across the screen and watch the leaves rustle at your touch. LostWinds tells the story of a little boy who can control the wind. You'll use this trick—via the motion sensors on the Wii-mote—to gust yourself over Andean cliffs and solve Zelda-esque puzzles with pressure plates, levers, and torches. Yet nothing's as much fun as using a slight breeze to make the village kids giggle and the old men gripe.
Unfortunately, LostWinds doesn't live up to its potential. The world doesn't hang together, the environments are too similar, and the story coasts on too many clichés—evil spirits, noble villagers, a task list to check off in order to save the world. None of this will bother kids, who'll dig the game's ease, the non-threatening boss, and the chance to actually finish a game that's a fraction as long as say, Okami. But platforming vets should look for something more frustrating.
Beyond the game: LostWinds is a launch title for the Wii's new indie download service, and it's easily the most original title on the channel—at least, until Major League Eating ships.
Worth playing for: It's a hoot to whip boulders around with a flick of the Wii-mote.
Frustration sets in when: The altitude you can reach when flying seems to change depending on whether the developers want you to be able to reach a given ledge.
Final judgment: Windswept, but lightweight.