As much as I enjoy iOS gaming, I have to admit that a vast majority of games on the platform feel rather slight. Many have novel mechanics or neat art styles, but do little more than help fill the two minute gaps when the person we're hanging out with goes to the bathroom.
There are few that I find comparable to the sort of fully-fledged experience you get on a console, and LostWinds 2: Winter of the Melodias is one of those exceptions. This shouldn't come as a surprise, being a port of a WiiWare game, but the new mobile version is a splendid translation of an already excellent title.
LostWinds 2 is a semi-linear 2D Metroidvania-style adventure, with a hint of Okami's gesture-based environment manipulation set in a lovely storybook world. I fear the "2" in the title will scare off newcomers, and that would be a shame as it's not necessary to have played the original LostWinds to appreciate this one. You'll miss a crumb or two of backstory, but all you need to know is that a young boy, Toku, has befriended a wind spirit, Enril. Aside from this very basic premise, LostWinds 2 is an entirely self-contained tale.
I played through the sequel to LostWinds while coming down with a cold - firmly wedged into an armchair, wearing my best Sherlock Holmes dressing gown, and gently lurking within that meandering, slightly introspective fug brought on by too much Lemsip. It turned out to be the perfect state in which to appreciate Frontier's latest blustery charmer, but enjoyment of the game is by no means limited to whether you're feeling a peaky. LostWinds: Winter of the Melodias is a lovely game, building on the strengths of the original, yet finding time to respond to most of the lingering gripes. If this is the kind of thing WiiWare can do, let's have some more of it, frankly.
The most regular criticism levelled at Toku's first adventure was that it was too short: a nice position for Frontier to be in, with its tacit acceptance that the core of the experience was pretty solid. It's a complaint LostWinds 2 has taken to heart, and the first sign that this is a weightier chunk of whimsy comes with the plot. Toku's mother Magdi has gone missing in the midst of an archaeological expedition, and the quest to find her will take the young boy and his chirpy wind spirit companion to the curiously named Summerfalls Village, a frozen outpost menaced by mysterious snow monsters, nestled on the edge of the ancient ruins of Melodia City. As the frightening fate of the Melodias themselves becomes increasingly clear, the mission becomes a race against time, and that, in turn, brings Toku into conflict with an old foe.
By necessity, then, it's a bigger adventure, and - an admission that many players found navigating the original title's snug world something of a challenge at times - one of the first new features Winter of the Melodias introduces is a map. That by itself shouldn't feel like a huge change, but it allows the game a potential for sophistication that otherwise wouldn't have been possible. It's an opportunity Frontier runs with, creating a complex network of environments where each level is often a single ingenious puzzle, whether you're patiently coaxing a flickering flame across a maze of torches or struggling to awaken ancient machines.