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LONG BLOG

Wii REVIEWS: Lost in Shadow

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For those reading one of my Wii review blogs for the first time, here is the basic concept:

The Wii is often mocked for its game library, yet, it actually has a solid list of exclusives that are unavailable anywehere else. Though only Nintendo games were avilable where I am from, I was always intrested on other games. Hence, I decided to play the top 50 Wii games as chose by Gamesradar in this list:

http://www.ign.com/top/snes-games

I decided to go back and play those 5o games and review them, atl least those that intrest me and those that I hae not played before. Origianlly, I post most of my stuff in a football forum "Goallegacy" which is the first online community I have ever joined. Which is the best place for a football fan (the REAL football, not handegg) to hang out in the internet.

Also, here are a number of extra rules for Destructoid:
-If you have any suggestion of a game that is not in the Gamesradar list that I should review, please suggest it.
-Make a bet on each game to check whether Chris Charter played it or not.

Without further ado, here is:

49- Lost in Shadow:
Year: 2010.
Genre: Puzzle-Platfromer.
Publisher: Hudson Soft.
Developer: Hudsos Soft.
 

First things first, I am changing my rating system to better rate different genres according to their own rules. It will still be from 50 quality points, but every title will start from 25 and earn/lose points according to criteria important to the titles and genres themselves.

These days, we find games like Lost in Shadow more readily in Steam or the Nintendo eShop, mostly made by indie developers. Of course, this is not a slight on the game as much as a reflection of the development of the indie scene, as well as the relative homogenization of major publishers. Not adhering to any single trope, Lost in Shadow follows its own philosophy on games, and it works for the most.

Obviously, Lost in Shadow is inspired by Ico, a PS2 Puzzle-Platformer that is as well regarded as it was commercially ill received. Taking place in a mysterious world, where most of the game is in the shadows of the real world, LoS clearly could have been a brilliant game. Unfortunately, it falls far from its potential despite being a good game.

"A Shadow, that is all I have become."

An ominous tower looms from the distance, but the camera quickly zooms into the top floor, as an ominous man prepares to sacrifice a child. While this child looks helplessly, the man slashes with his sword. Yet, there is no blood, only the sudden severance of the boys shadow, which is the unceremoniously dumped from the top of the tower.

We control this shadow, which aims to go back to its body. Hence, we need to climb the tower. This sets up the world of LoS, where its unique gameplay is almost entirely related to shadows. It also sets up the main mystery, and a lot of questions.

Why was the boy's shadow severed?
Why his shadow?
Why a boy?

Unfortunately, the game poorly answers its question. Soon, we know that there is a terrible monster that devours the shadows that try to climb the tower, mostly the shadows of the dead. Hence, we can surmise that shadows are like souls. However, other than this important fact, the game poorly manages its own mystery.

Taking cues from Ico, LoS aims at non-conventional exposition and a sense of mystery. Yet, LoS doesn't have the emotional core of Ico, nor does it reveal its information well. Most of the exposition we get is in major "narration" between important segments, which feel a bit lacking. Especially because what should have been a major story element is just disappointing. While climbing the tower, collectible "memories" are found, which raise your health as well as expose a little story. Yet, most of the memories are not that revealing, and some are downright "too blurry to read". Seriously, it is like collecting corrupted Audio-Tapes in Bioshock. The first one is cute, but it becomes increasingly stupid.

Ultimately, I wasn't as invested in the story as I probably should have been, and it didn't become a driving force for going forward (or upward in this case).

Mysterious Set-Up: +2
Non-Intresting Story: -3
Poor Story-Telling: -2

Actually a cool looking tower, lead designer worked with Miyazaki


"What is the sound of a shadow's step"

Courtesy of being in the shadow realm, movement is naturally going to be in the 2D plane. However, all your movement is constrained by shadows. While you are in the shadow realm witohut a real world counterpart, the rest of the environment is simply the shadows cast by the real world. As such, you can actually see the foreground where pillars and machines cast their shadow in your play-field.

Here, the gameplay is a simple 2D platformer with some combat. You can jump, crawl, and attack in three combos. Its not a mechanically sophisticated system, but it does the job with no hassle, unless your a playing on hard, in which case you will need to jump-dodge more often.

The crux of the gameplay comes from interacting with the real world. Without any explanation, you are accompanied by some shadow butterfly that can interact with the real world. Its as simple as pointing at objects of interest and pushing a button. This physical change in the real world causes a change in the shadowscape.

More complex is when you are tasked with manipulating the lighting. True to real life, when you change the light direction, both the orientations and size of the shadows change. While it is limited by place, and often easy to know exactly what you need to do, it does combine sometimes in clever ways.

Finally, you get the ability to visit the real world for a brief amount of time. This changes the 2D gameplay into basic 3D gameplay. Unfortunately, this ability comes in late in the game, despite being useable in earlier stages. Obviously, the game wants you to go back to get some staggering memories.

Generally, the game isn't really difficult, and the puzzles are rarely challenging. Yet, they are clever enough to entertain, and unique enough to surprise. Despite that, the game outstays its welcome by a bit. With the endgame having the best levels and puzzles, I was annoyed at the midgame padding. For instance, just at the end of the tower, we are tasked with a stupid fetch quest that asks you to visit some rooms in the tower. It could have easily been cut without affecting the story.

Most levels use one or two ideas and evolve them, but many are just retreads of similar ideas. Each level tasks you with collecting three "Monitor Eyes", which is necessary to finish the game. Some levels include "Shadow Corridors" which serve as micro levels designed to showcase a single game mechanic. Unfortunately, those corridors are unskippable, and are hot or miss. Which all combines for an uninspiring level structure, yet the shadow concept holds strong throughout.

Interesting Shadow Puzzles: +4
Varied Systems: +2
Too Long and a little Uninspired: -3

I feel I have played this level a few other times


"The Monster ate the shadows that tried to climb the tower"

The first time you are faced with the monster is set-up very well. First, you get a few memories in your path that hint at a terrible beast. Then, as you start the next level, the music shifts to a more urgent scale, and you are suddenly chased by the abomination. Its well designed, and scary enough to compel your escape without any directions to do so. It is single handled the best moment in the game because all of it comes together nicely. The music, the gameplay, the artstyle, and actually narrative drive.

Of all those aspects, only artstyle is consistent throughout.

Because it is basically shadows, the graphics basically need to show shadows on a plane wall. However, it goes much beyond that. Since shadow are cast on the horizontal ground as well as the vertical wall, the camera shifts as the shadow moves through different 3D planes. A shadow is equally cast on a near pillar as well as a far pillar, which translates to the cascading motion of the shadow hero as you move forward through the pillars.

While the main monster is the most memorable enemy, all the other enemies are actually well designed themselves. With a combination of macabre elements fused with natural horrors, we get some truly formidable looking foes (if not actually formidable in themselves).

I can always complain about the unimaginative 3D "real world", but the shadow world feels like playing shadow tag on a huge landscape. Additionally, the idea of the tower, as well as the best locales, both add to the mystery of the game. So, the shadow theme helps a lot in the graphical presentation of the game.

Yet, it perhaps hinders the soundtrack most of all. I can imagine the composer wanting to create a music that fits the mystery and theme of shadows, and I can imagine that composer finally setting his ambient tunes to the stage. The end result is a mostly ambient style music that is hardly distinguishable, and perhaps most unforgivable; simply boring.

While the desire to complement the graphical mood makes sense, the music simply needed to be more interesting, more varied, and just not this boring. Previously, I said the the moment where you are followed by the monster is the best moment because all elements of the game gel together. Its not because the music is especially memorable, but because its the first time you hear a different sounding music.

Nice Shadow Graphical Effects: +4
Interesting Enemy Design: +2
Boring "Ambient" Music: -5

For we are Legion


"Only hope keeps me going"

Time is scarce. In fact, I am more convinced that time is the deciding factor in purchases more so than cost. With this knowledge, I feel that my desire to finish every game I play is a determinant to trying out new games. Yet, there is always the fact that game will drive me to finish it.

This "drive" comes through various means: music, gameplay, story, or even style. With LoS, I cannot underscore a driving factor, because I believe "Hope" is the best I could come up with. Hope that the game fulfills the potential of its core mechanic, the potential of its mysterious set up.

To its credit, the game actually comes close at the end, but by that time, I doubt a lot of player stuck to the end.

No Driving Factor: -4

Not always bright


In Conclusion:

Lost in Shadow is proof that a game should not rest on a single promising mechanic, but should use that mechanic to differentiate a quality product. That is not to say that LoS is not worth playing, nor that it is a complete waste of time. In the contrary, I am glad I did indeed play it.

However, I am not entirely sure its worth finishing.

Final: 26/50

*****************************************************************

"Looking Back at Destructoid's Review:"

Mr. Nick Chester originally review Lost in Shadow back in 01.04.2011, and he gave it a 7. I found the gist of the review to be "that it’s a striking and impressive journey that manages to mimic its influences rather well in a few key areas. Unfortunately, it staggers in a few areas, and ultimately can't quite stand alongside the masterpieces that inspired it."

Generally, the comment section was inquisitive about the game, snarky ate the review style, and there was a lot of attention given to the possible sales perfromance of the game. Lofty the Metroid had this to say:

"If this doesn't sell well (despite its gameplay flaws), it will be cited as evidence for why the Wii can't support "core" games and why it should have been on the HD twins. Aesthetics and lack of advertising will not be taken into consideration by naysayers. See: MadWorld, de Blob, Zack & Wiki, etc."

Apparently, our own Chris Carter (who was not part of the staff then) disagreed.

"I don't see how this is any more "niche and special to the Wii" than Limbo was niche - and that sold 300,000 copies - and had zero advertisements outside of the Xbox Live Arcade interface itself.

There is some negative correlation between the Wii audience and certain games - it's not magic that even niche titles can sell on consoles that have a [much] smaller install base."

Intresting conversation, but the comment of my choice is by our own Recap master ShadeOfLight:

"I unfortunately haven't had the chance to play this game yet, even though it's been out here for a while now. T.T

It still looks great though, games like these are right up my street, so I fully intend to do so."

I wonder if he actually did end up playing it.

"Sales Data:"

I am generally not intrested in the sales of the games I like, and I don't measure my penis size through the sucess of games I like. However, sales data is intresting in studying market trends, people's general intrest, marketing strategy, genre effect, and other factors. Which is why I am going to check the sales data of every modern game I review (Gen 4 and beyond).

As we see in a lot of Wii Review comment sections in the past, people are really intrested in how games sell on the Wii. As predicted, LoS is not a huge seller at an estimate 110 Thousand units sold. However, Hudson soft itself doesn't have a huge selling history, with LoS actually being on of its highest earners. OTher than bomberman, they are not very lucky in the market.

For comparison to other titles that are somewhat similar, Ico sold 400 Thousand in the PS2, which is actually low compared to its bigger budget and bigger studio. Limbo in the other hand (which was discussed in the Dtoid review of LoS) is reportedly at a lifetime record of 3 Million. I guess team Ico needs to break up and head for steam.


"Tips"

1- Don't underestimate your jump.
2- The best way to defeat enemies you are having trouble with is a quick one two then a jump.
3- Occasionaly flash the scene to look for intractable objects.
4- You can always change the difficulty in mid-level.

"Next Game"

So the beginning of the Wii list was not that good of a game, but it is at least better than the SNES list at least. The next game I am playing is not in the gamesradar list, but is the predecessor to one that is.

Of course, the Wii meant a revival to light gun shooters, and Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles was Capcom's first response to that revival. Here is hoping its more undead than dead (hahahahahaha).

Stay Tuned


For Previous Wii game Reviews:

The List

For More Screenshots:

Screenshots are not available in Mobygames.

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About Lord Spencerone of us since 5:57 PM on 01.12.2014

Hello all, I am Lord Spencer, your friendly neighborhood royalty. Yes, the ancient bloodlines are letting absolutely anyone in these days.

Being the lurker that I am, I have been following Destructoid for more than four years. Well, its 3 AM where I live now, and I just plunged in getting HUGE in the way.

Here is hoping for a fun time.

Oh yes, here is a little more info about me that is probably not as interesting as I think it is:

-I owned and played about 1000+ games.
-I owned and read about 2000+ books (I counted comic books I read as a kid so this is not as impressive as it sounds).
-I absolutely love Legos.

Out of all the games I played, I only regret playing a few. I am a big fan of gaming, and thus I really like most of what I play.

Thanks to the excellent work of community member Dango, now I have a cool infographic of my top 20 games. This list is not my final one, but what I thought off at the moment. If you notice, they are presented in chronological order:





Oh, and here is a link to my blogs:
My Blogs