Game Reviews

Balan Wonderworld Review: What a Blunder-Full World

Story Highlights
  • “Balan Wonderworld is a hodge-podge of half-formed platforming ideas that squander a whole lot of charm.”
Balan Wonderworld

Balan Wonderworld Review: What a Blunder-Full World


  • Sluggish movement
  • Generic ranges
  • Half-baked costume gimmick
  • Limited experimentation

If Balan Wonderworld doesn’t get important studios to embrace early entry, nothing will. When Square Enix launched a demo for its colourful puzzle platformer ahead of its launch, the response wasn’t fashioned. Players criticized every thing from the game’s unwieldy digicam to its painfully sluggish animations. Weeks sooner than its launch, Square Enix launched it was engaged on a day one patch to deal with the strategies, nevertheless, admitted that it wouldn’t have the power to completely flip the ship spherical in time.

That caveat must set some fast expectations for followers who had been hoping the game could possibly be a triumphant return to form for former Sonic Team lead Yuji Naka. There’s just about truly going to be some long-term tinkering proper right here to get the game incorrect type. Consider this an unintentional beta.

There’s a chance Balan Wonderworld may acquire cult standing attributable to its charming aesthetics and reversion platforming. But for a lot of who don’t harbor a lot of Dreamcast nostalgia, it’s an irritating hodge-podge of half-formed ideas that performs like a robust prototype for a sport that’s nonetheless years away.

Failing the elemental examination

Balan Wonderworld ought to essentially really feel immediately acquainted with anyone who grew up inside the heyday of 3D platformers. Players uncover themed worlds, leap over obstacles, and accumulate shiny gems scattered all by way of ranges. Its simplicity could possibly be the selling stage for a lot of who’re hoping for a nostalgic journey, nevertheless, the game stumbles over the basics.

Movement is sluggish as if the game’s protagonist is struggling to sprint by means of mud. The character’s regular soar is so fast that even the smallest of gaps can present to be a hazard. The restricted number of minigames are merely plain boring and repeated advert nausea. Most notably, the digicam is an untamable beast that goes haywire the second it brushes up in the direction of a wall.

Even the narrative framework is confounding. The child protagonist teams up with the titular Balan, a prime hat-wearing maestro, to help treatment strangers’ points in a whimsical world. Each stage represents a character’s explicit wrestle, like a fiery cavern that visualizes a firefighter’s deepest anxieties. What’s odd is that the exact story behind each world is solely confirmed after ending its two acts and easily sooner than an uninspired, “three-hit” boss wrestle that feels absolutely unrelated.

Its simplicity could possibly be the selling stage for a lot of who’re hoping for a nostalgic journey, nevertheless, the game stumbles over the basics.

Nothing truly meshes collectively. The ranges attribute deliberate seen motifs, nevertheless, few phases actually benefit from their settings or story in a vital strategy. Most are merely full of interchangeable platforming challenges that lack any precise character. Anytime the game introduces a promising mechanic, like a observe utilizing a part of a carnival stage, it quickly drops the thought. It all seems as a whiteboard doodle tailor-made into a robust proof of concept.

Wardrobe malfunction

The sport’s defining mechanic is its costume system, nevertheless, that’s what truly causes the already fragile seams to burst. Throughout the journey, players can accumulate over 80 fully totally different outfits. Each one acts as a power-up that grants a fully totally different perk, like the facility to climb up spider webs or grapple in the direction of huge gems. The idea is that everybody might be utilized to unravel fully totally different platforming puzzles and promote experimentation. It’s a riff on Super Mario Odyssey that goes terribly, terribly improper.

I haven’t talked regarding the controls of the game however, as a results of there aren’t many to speak of. Any face button or set-off acts as a singular movement button for the geared-up costume. There’s no dash, no assault, and, most importantly, no devoted soar button. When sporting a painter’s costume, as an illustration, pressing a button shoots a glob of paint forward. That’s it. That’s all you’ll be able to do until you flip costumes.

The system may need labored, however, it’s carried out in an strategy that just about feels thoughtless.

The idea is to suppose twice about what functionality you may wish to unravel a puzzle, nevertheless that creates surprising points. On one event, I went off to grab some gems scattered round a laser grid. When I tried to go away from the realm, I observed I had taken a tiny step down a 6-inch extreme wall. None of my geared-up costumes had a soar movement, which meant I was merely caught there. The sole choice to progress was to take intentional laser hits, destroying my three outfits, and reverting me once more to the costume-less default state that’s capable of leap.

This occurred frequently in my playthrough. I’d switch by means of a stage, lose a costume which may soar, and spot that I was now stranded. Similarly, there are events the place progressing means having a explicit functionality equipped. If you attain a house and aren’t sporting one of the best outfit, you’ll must backtrack until you uncover it.

Balan Wonderworld

The sport tries to unravel that with an altering room that’s accessible by standing on a checkpoint prolonged enough (that’s under no circumstances outlined and in the intervening time doesn’t set off persistently), nevertheless, players should have a costume banked to tug it out of storage. More often than not, I found myself having to exit a stage absolutely, return to a world that had the costume I wished, and schlep all the best way by which once more to easily to complete a straightforward, obvious job.

To make points worse, few of the skills are pleasurable to play with. They principally grant major actions that should be utilized particularly situations. There’s no precise experimentation. If there’s spinning gear, the gear costume should be equipped. Some outfits are functionally comparable too, giving players fully totally different animations that accomplish the equivalent movement, like floating over gaps. Others are merely plain ineffective, like an outfit that permits players to run sooner … however it prompts at random. A humorous troll, admittedly.

The system may need labored, however, it’s carried out in an strategy that just about feels thoughtless. The ranges are designed throughout the idea that players always have one of the best devices for the job. Whenever they don’t, they’re met with a level-design shoulder shrug.

Coasting on attraction

The sole issue that Balan Wonderworld effectively brings to the desk is attraction. It boasts an unabashedly joyful paintings mannequin and a fairly soundtrack, even when its compositions bear overplaying. While misplaced, the story cinematics is endearing micro-films about empathy and kindness.

Balan Wonderworld

There’s a cute, albeit absolutely underdeveloped riff on Sonic Adventure 2’s Chao Garden as correctly. Players maintain an island full of colourful little bird-bunnies that feed on the gems collected by means of ranges. It’s disappointingly shallow and barely choices any interaction, however, it’s on the very least per the great vibes the game is attempting to ship, even when it fails to be pleasurable.

“Failing to be fun” is a sort of working theme proper right here. Balan Wonderworld may work as an endearing cartoon, however, it falls flat as an interactive journey. Does it work? No. Is it on the very least contemplating the outside of the sector? Certainly. 

What’s genuinely fascinating is that it’s unusual that we ever see the principle studio launch fail on this strategy. Publishers like Square Enix mustn’t take giant gambles as of late as soon as they’ve so many reliable franchises and established gaming tendencies to tug from. Balan Wonderworld is a actual hazard that’s refreshing to see in a time the place AAA gaming can actually really feel absolutely predictable.

That could give it a cult edge for avid players looking out for one factor fully totally different. It has the equivalent energy as forgotten platformers like Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg. Does it work? No. Is it on the very least contemplating the outside of the sector? Certainly. With a devoted fan base forming behind it, Square Enix could merely have the strategies loop it should make a sequel work. Drop the following installment in early entry and let its followers catch the problems sooner than it’s too late.

Our thought

It’s tempting to jot down Balan Wonderworld’s flaws off as a a part of its throwback attraction, nevertheless, that wouldn’t be absolutely right. Beloved 3D platformers like Sonic Adventure might have some jank to them, nevertheless, they’re nonetheless pleasurable to play. Balan Wonderworld stumbles over the basics with sluggish movement, overly simplistic controls, and a half-formed costume gimmick that creates irritating roadblocks at every flip. It’s charming enough that the “they don’t make ‘em like they used to” crowd might rally behind it, nevertheless, people who want a nostalgic hit are increased off looking out down a Dreamcast and sticking to the exact classics.

Is there a increased distinction?

Super Mario Odyssey has an equivalent central idea nevertheless executed with additional thought and better movement strategies.

How prolonged will it last?

The predominant quest takes round 10 hours, nevertheless, there are further ranges and a lot of collectibles to go looking out after the credit score roll.

Should You Buy it?

No. It’s inconceivable to advocate this at a full $60 worth stage. Wait for a low cost bin worth drop within the occasion you’re morbidly curious.


Creator. Passionate Cricket Fan. Introvert. Problem Solver. Doctor To Be. Gamer. Thinker

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