Hands-On Preview: Something shadowy this way comes...
High on my list of must-play games at E3 was Lost In Shadow, Hudson Entertainment's unique light-and-shadow puzzle-platformer for the Wii. I met up with Mike Pepe, Director of Marketing, who was able to set me up with the game immediately. I had been following this innovative work since it was called ?Tower of Shadow,? which I felt was a much more mysterious and enchanting name. I asked Takehito Hanyu, Associate Manager of Consumer Promotion, why they changed the name ? he said the game will still have that name in Japan, but that the name is already taken in America. Whatever the name is, I was glad to finally get my hands on it.
The concept is very simple ? you are a shadow who has been removed from his body. The body is in the tower, being held captive. You must reach the tower and regain it. You have a fairy with you who can help you interact with the corporeal world in the form of puzzles that transcend the dimensions of space on the screen ? ie, the necessity to come into the foreground. As simple as this idea sounds, it comes together here in a beautiful and poetic way, flowing freely and intuitively within a brand new platforming playground: the shadows.
I played the first four very short levels, with each level increasing in complexity. The only way to progress to the next level was to find three eyes ? some hidden, some in plain sight. At first, it was very simple ? I followed a very linear path, found all three eyes, and was able to get to the next section. With each section, complications began to arise. The eyes became more difficult to find ? some were hidden down secondary paths, and others could only be attained by going through a special portal, which took me to a more dangerous area. I had to navigate the perils within and find the exit, and from there, continue on to the next part of the level. Along the way, you can find ?memories? scattered about. Each memory gives you more information and is also worth grams, adding to your weight and making you more substantial.
One of the trickiest aspects involved making changes to items in the foreground to make the shadows move in order to get to another area. It was reminiscent of the mechanics of Echochrome, mixed in with the haunting loneliness of Ico. It's a bit difficult to operate initially ? you have to maneuver your Wiimote in a way that brings the fairy to the foreground, then carefully move her over an area to discover the part you can interact with, indicated by a bright light. You hit the action button, and that moves the item so that you can proceed. It was difficult to do because the Wiimote was tethered so closely to the machine, but I'm sure it'll be much easier to do in the comfort of my living room.
And I will be using it in the comfort of my living room, because this is the game that is going to make me buy a Wii of my own. Those were the exact words I used to describe my excitement ? via Takehito's translations ? to the producer, Shinichi Kasahara. ?Yes, please do!? he said, laughing and thanking me. I mean it ? I'll be picking up a black Wii this September, just so I can have it all set up and ready to go once this game hits the shelves later that month.