Balan Wonderworld is exactly that game you wouldn’t expect: Square Enix anticipated a surprise with a countdown, at the time, to reveal it to the whole world in a clear reference to the bizarre and bold experiences that marked Sega from golden times. It is impossible not to be captured, even if only because it was taken by surprise, by the colorful and unpredictable world developed by no one other than director Yuji Naka and character designer Naoto Ohshima – the creators of Sonic the Hedgehog and have returned, now twenty years ago, to collaborate. In the animation of the same spirit of the past.
Be guided by the master BalanThe mysterious character with Tuba, who is not only the symbol of the game, but is the real director of the Balan theater, and the goal is to make us players live amazing adventures through twelve different stories that fall into many facts. In youth shoes Emma and Leo, We will have to stop the schemes of the evil Lance who lock up visitors in the Wonderland, and then turn their fears and negative thoughts into creatures hostile to the two heroes. To do this, to save these people, we will have several costumes, each of them characterized by specific abilities, which will allow us to pass more safely.
Presented this way, with a flair for creativity and an undeniably colorful and vibrant gaming world, the title seems to re-suggest those adventures that made history but are lost. In spite of the good faith, but what is proven With the Balan Wonderworld Show (Available on all platforms beginning at midnight January 28, 2021, except for Steam which will arrive later in the day) We were left unconvinced and unsure of the direction of the game.
A game without an exact identity
The first impression is that Balan Wonderworld He does not have a well-defined identity: At first glance it looks like a 3D platformer, but the versatility it smoothly presents makes it hard to frame. If in other contexts it can give a positive impression, then in this case we found the mise-en-scene to be confusing, dotted with different stages and actions, however, it is not fully found – like many small worlds within an expanded world, where everyone acts In their own way without caring too much about others. Let’s start with what’s called Eltimes Island, Which acts as a main focus connected to twelve stories in the background of the entire adventure, and can be accessed from time to time only by meeting certain conditions (i.e. finding the correct number of Balan figurines): From here we played the entire first chapter, including two additional works. To fight the boss, in addition to the part of the fourth and sixth.
Despite its strange and colorful nature, Balan Wonderworld has never managed to capture us from the very first moments nor even reach the end of all regions, and explore them in detail through the use of Numerous fashions Available – which we realize is cute but not enough to justify the ever-changing gameplay, with a somewhat cumbersome clothes management system. We can carry a total of three outfits with us each time, and a list in which duplicates can be included, and by gathering the others, the last row in the line will be eliminated to make room for new outfits: to unlock the outfits you always need a key, you find it in the immediate vicinity of the surrounding jewel. By it, and it will be regardless of whether you actually got this outfit the first time. While it is not difficult in and of itself to unlock the gem, having to take a key and reuse it every time, instead of just interacting with it, makes the process frustrating and boring in a short amount of time.
Take damage While wearing a costume, it will be removed from the list and we will have to trace our steps to find the relative gem to get it back; Operation, again, won’t get boring in the long run, although it’s hard to beat due to the simplicity of the game itself. Moreover, although the uniqueness associated with the individual costume is interesting, the fact that wearing it in most cases can only be done and only intended movement (for example jumping, shooting, etc.) makes the gameplay less smooth: for this a fact must be added. Each costume change is accompanied by a very short animation, in which the hero or hero spins on himself and then introduces himself in the desired outfit. Due to the constant need to change strategy, even this constant interruption of the flow of play slowly affects our nerves.
From the building, Balan Wonderworld is clearly a devoted experience to reboot, with each chapter organized so that it cannot be 100% complete in one spin but requires you to unlock costumes in later levels. However, again, it is one Return Without a real bite: either for the brevity of the actions, at least the ones that were taken up in the demo, or for the very small sections where a comeback with new outfits is required, we’ve redone our steps for the spirit Completeness But you have no real motivation to do so. The impossibility of changing outfits once you enter the level (we can define the set before starting, relying on the ones that have already been recovered) also makes it imperative that you remember exactly what you need, since some costumes are not part of that specific class and do not. It can be found at the level.
In short, there are a lot of little details that pile up that don’t make Balan Wonderworld the experience he wanted, thanks to her. A stifling amount of mechanics. At a certain point, while retrieving the Golden Balan Hat, we are pushed into a short section for a Quick Visual Time (VQTE) event called the Battle of Balan, where we will have to press the indicated commands to reproduce Balan’s movements, get drops in case of success and statues of gold. It is a moment of completely contextualized gameplay, which leaves the feeling of being added to number composition and introducing another variable in which useful creatures can be obtained.
Both the difficulty From the game plus the complexity of going through the levels is minimized, with very simple boss combat and pays to repeat, again, only on the basis of the promise of getting more Balan – necessary to advance in the game. Level design at this initial stage did not make us cry a miracle, nor did it share much, but we reserve a full test in the future: right now, despite the vast amount of costumes available, Balan Wonderworld does not have the magic of this past back to the fore in a modern way – or from Who knows, that’s just his mistake. Even technically, it didn’t look very inspiring, with a rather dull design that just has an intense color palette. It’s like a dream without a doubt, but we’re not sure it’s necessarily a good thing.
Balan Wonderworld is a very confusing experience, as it tries to insert a lot of gameplay without really improving any of it, chasing the strange and gritty gaming legend that marked the past without being able to suggest it to the present – at least, not in this show. From some game design options that slow down the game to the mechanics that seem to be included only for creating numbers and riding the wave of creative inspiration, Yuji Naka and Naoto Ohshima still have a long way to go to convince us.
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