The avatar’s unique ability is to sing, which is controlled with the right stick. Through singing, the game features all kinds of ways of using thumbstick controls.
Besides moving and jumping, every interaction is done through the singing mechanic: pushing the joystick in one of the eight directions makes the bard (your avatar) sing a given note. Each note corresponds to a direction and a color.
Some interactions directly use the singing, like singing songs in rhythm or selecting dialog options. Most of them, though, are justified by considering the singing as something magical in order to use the direction of the stick, for example to move or pivot platforms.
List of some of the many uses of the thumbstick control:
– Repeating a sequence (repeat a bird song to get a higher jump from it)
– Selecting a dialog answer (which makes your character sing the answer)
– Waking someone up (works with any note)
– Actually singing a song with another character (as a simple music mini game)
– Creating a short melody (shop’s theme song)
– Moving a platform in the direction of the stick
– Orienting wind direction in the direction of the stick
– Turning a crank to open a door or move platforms
– Moving a ship on a map (with the crew singing along)
– Entering a code (a sequence of 3 orientations)
– Tuning a radio frequency (singing at a crystal ball)
– Rotating the stick at the right speed to match a given frequency
– Changing direction (forward / backward) and speed of platforms moving on rails
– Even not doing anything (waiting without singing)
Also, being able to sing at any time, for no gameplay reason, make the singing more natural and is coherent with the bard’s personality in the story. You can even dance and unlock new dance moves.
This is a good example of controls versatility for an original control method. All possible uses of a thumbstick to control gameplay and challenge the player are considered. And each of them is (more or less) linked with the act of singing, so that the player is never lost when confronted to a new mechanic: it has always something to do with singing.
From Behind the colorful music wheel of Wandersong, an interview of Greg Lobanov on Gamasutra:
“We really emphasized the music wheel. We made that really fun and juicy and reactive, and have all these little animations and tunes and stuff and it just feels like really gooey and reactive to play with. And everything in the world reacts to the music. Everything is just kind of like connected with each other and reacting to each other, and whenever you do anything you feel really like…you have a big impact on the game I guess.”
“Generally thinking, the entire game is kinda this museum of different props and things that interact with your singing in different ways. So whenever you see something new you just kinda of sing at it, and you see how it reacts to your music and everything works a little bit different.
You’re always singing to something, but different things go in different ways. This is a good example where there’s the bird where you repeat its sequence and it gives you a big jump and then there’s the vine, when you sing to it it grows in the direction you sing.”