It feels like it's been ages since I first laid hands on Lost in Shadow this past E3, coming away with a feeling that I had played something special—so special I deemed it my game of show. Since then, the game has been released both in its home country of Japan as well as Europe, finally getting its last release here in the U.S. this past January 4.

Along the way, it's accumulated its share of reviews, both professional and amateur, that have not been quite as taken with it as I was. Now that I've played the entire game that Hudson sent over for review, I do understand where some of their complaints are coming from. But even though it is, I think it's safe to say, an objectively imperfect game, I still think Lost in Shadow has enough fantastic elements to it that make it a net win in the end.

I took Lost in Shadow all the way to completion, achieving 100% completion on it this past weekend. I did this not out of some sense of obligation—I did it because I wanted to; I found so many just plain neat things along the way that I wanted to make sure I'd seen them all before finally shelving the game. (My wife teased me a little about it. "Why are you doing that? What do you get?" "100%." "But what do you get?" "I get to, uh, see everything.") But doing so did help to cement in my mind just what it is that Lost in Shadow does right, as well as pinpoint where it sometimes went off-track. Having this clarity proved tremendously useful because Lost in Shadow proved to be a tricky game to pinpoint, between its stellar highs and tedious lows. So, here's what I found.

Lost in Shadow, as anyone who's seen anything about the game knows, is a bit of a twist on the traditional 2D platformer. You play as the shadow of a boy severed from his body, working your way up to the top of a tower to try to get reunited with said body. You scale the tower by climbing not the tower's fixtures themselves, but the shadows they cast. In the first ten levels, you'll be introduced to nearly all the game's shadow tricks. Some are controlled with the Wii Remote's pointer: you can search for and manipulate 3D objects to change their shadows, contextually move light sources from side-to-side or top-to-bottom and thus reshuffle shadow surfaces, and set light sources swinging to make the shadows sway. Another, the power to spin the stage on the y-axis, is done at certain places inside one of many challenge areas you'll come across and typically have to clear to proceed.

This was the kind of stuff I played at E3 and in the demo, and though the uses of these powers in the beginning are introductory and simple, they really got my imagination and interest going. But in the full game, after I went through this one more time, becoming excited about the possibilities, the next ten floors the game threw at me turned out to be barren, rather boring affairs, hardly using the shadow tricks at all let alone presenting any real kind of challenge. And thus I was introduced to Lost in Shadow's key problem: pacing.

There were, in fact, some great areas yet to come. And, after those ten floors, things did start getting better again, slowly but surely making better use of the game's trademark shadow tricks in more and more neat ways. I eventually got access to one absolutely genius new mechanic five hours in that, though I knew it was coming, still managed to floor me with how cool it was. Fast-foward a few more floors, and I was making use of this feature in some really fantastically built levels. But even as the game seemed to be finally opening up, going through it to the end revealed still more poor pacing decisions that sadly prevented it from being a steadily rising crescendo of awesomeness and instead made for an uneven symphony—things like long walks across featureless stretches that seemed to only be there for dramatic visual effect, and probably a little too much backtracking through previous areas.

Getting 100% required even more backtracking than the slight amount I needed to just beat the game. But the new mechanic I unlocked opened up new sub-areas all over the tower that were previously inaccessible, where the rest of the collectibles and game-winning items were hidden away; these new areas (and sometimes, areas I had just missed because I wasn't being observant enough the first time through), hidden in plain sight in the areas I'd worked my way through in my initial climb days before, still provided plenty to keep me occupied and interested. It was still a bit tedious to get around inside the levels from time to time, more in some areas than others—I wish there had been more shortcuts given for re-traversal, particularly as it's extensively required in nearly every level—but, by and large, it turned out to be rather enjoyable, thanks to a fairly regular parceling-out of new areas to visit.

For those with the patience to deal with the uneven pacing, Lost in Shadow definitely can give you a lot to see, experience, and appreciate. I've mentioned already there are some really neat uses of shadow, of course; nothing really brain-breaking, I should add, but plenty that's just plain cool to see—it's a pretty chill game overall, even with occasionally-tricky platforming and action thrown in. Along the way, you'll be steeped in some really fantastic atmosphere, with creepy shadow creatures and a very nice ambient soundtrack that really helps to sell the whole package (I'm hoping for a way to get a hold of this separately, soon!) as well as some really cool visual design.

Lost in Shadow is a game that, I think, the patient will appreciate the most. It's not a nail-bitingly exciting platformer (though its feel is quite competent... much better than the original 2D Prince of Persia that is is sometimes compared to), nor is it a puzzling head-scratcher, but it is a grand tour of a number of really cool and fun ideas one can do with its core idea. If you're willing to work with its odd pacing, I think it will reward you in the end. It definitely rewarded me, and expect it will stay with me whenever I think back on all the great experiences I had with Wii. Thanks, Hudson, for making this game—and I'd love to see you revisit its world sometime, with more attention paid to the pacing; it's my firm belief you've already got a number of the pieces in place for an unreservedly great game.