Ported from a WiiWare game from 2008, the charm and ingenuity of LostWinds should make it a real gem of a game. However, the iOS version loses something in translation.
You play Toku, a boy who's woken up by a friendly wind spirit on a quest to defeat evil spirit Balasar. You guide Toku around the gorgeous world of Mistralis by tapping where you want him to go, and swiping gusts of wind to float him over obstacles.
Along the way you'll uncover shrines to power up your wind spirit friend, giving Toku new wind-based abilities like "slipstream" which lets you guide objects by drawing a long line, and "vortex" which allows you to pinch objects to float them in mid air, ready to fling at barriers.
The puzzle element increases as LostWinds progresses, though it isn't ever too taxing, and a fair amount of time is spent wandering back and forth through the game world. Innovative game mechanics like crystal barriers that must be shattered by a whistling ball (vortex required) are a great example of the ingenuity of the game.
The WiiWare original was brilliant, but also featured something that the iOS version doesn't. While manipulating the wind the game – and Toku – would momentarily pause. In the iOS version of LostWinds, there is no such respite from the action, meaning that when trying to blow away enemies (literally), you'll often find Toku sprinting towards them instead.
This control inaccuracy makes what should be thoroughly slick and satisfying actions scream-out-loud-impossible at times.
We tested LostWinds on an iPhone and it all got more than a little frustrating, though we can imagine it might be a little better on the larger control area of the iPad. We'd love to be able to give LostWinds a higher score, but its wonky controls just cause too much teeth-grinding to ignore.