Balan Wonderworld Evaluate (PS5) | Push Sq.


Players have been handled to a 3D platformer renaissance over the previous few years. The likes of Yooka-Laylee and A Hat in Time have proven the world that 3D platformers aren’t only a style of the previous, however a formulation that may nonetheless be iterated upon. Enter Sq. Enix and legendary sport designer Yuji Naka, finest recognized for his work on the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise. Collectively they got down to create a model new 3D platformer just like the world has by no means seen earlier than. To that extent, they’ve succeeded, because the mediocrity of Balan Wonderworld stands out as one of many worst and underdeveloped platformers in latest reminiscence.

From begin to end, Balan Wonderworld seems like a fever dream, and never in a great way. Nothing on this world is smart, there’s no actual story, and there’s nothing motivating you to maintain going. The sport stars Leo and Emma, two youngsters who really feel like social outcasts, as they wander right into a theater run by Balan, a mysterious being in a white hat recognized for his positivity. They’re then transported to the Isle of Tims, a hub stuffed with cute creatures that connects every of the twelve worlds. Every world is definitely a troubled individual’s coronary heart, which Leo and Emma must free from Lance, Balan’s evil counterpart. Whereas the plot makes an attempt some darkish tones, there’s little precise story outdoors of the opening and ending cutscenes. There isn’t any dialogue between the inhabitants of this world, no character improvement, and no raised stakes to maintain the participant motivated. Temporary interactions, such because the musical quantity on the finish of every world makes an attempt so as to add some character to the characters, however they find yourself feeling as soulless as the remainder of the sport.

As lacklustre because the story is, the controls are simply the worst a part of Balan Wonderworld. In contrast to Mario and Crash Bandicoot, who’ve advanced their gameplay types through the years, Balan feels as if it’s a lengthy misplaced PS1 sport, and never in a great way. Very like the unique Sonic the Hedgehog, the sport solely makes use of just one button. Whether or not you press any of the face buttons or use the adaptive triggers, each enter will end in the identical motion. In idea, this isn’t essentially a foul design philosophy, particularly if you’re catering the sport to a youthful crowd. Sadly, the sport’s signature characteristic, costumes, meshes with the controls like water and oil.

There are 80 distinctive costumes all through the sport that give Leo and Emma totally different powers. These can vary from the facility to drift within the air to capturing tornadoes as a projectile. On their very own, these costumes current some nice concepts to boost the gameplay. Nevertheless, since your costume’s talents are activated with the identical button that you’d usually use to leap, and all buttons do the identical motion, this causes you to lose the flexibility to leap in sure costumes. If the sport was constructed round this limitation of not with the ability to leap always, this may increasingly not have been such an enormous concern, however since this can be a platformer, dropping the flexibility to leap might be probably the most irritating feeling. Mix that with the gradual motion velocity, and also you’re left with one of many least enjoyable controlling characters in a platformer.

The issues with the sport’s design don’t finish there, nevertheless, because the core degree design in Balan Wonderworld is extremely primary, blocky, and boring. Every world is split into two acts adopted by a boss combat. The purpose of every stage is to make the most of the totally different costumes accessible to achieve the purple coronary heart on the finish of the stage, whereas gathering Tims, gems, and Balan Trophies alongside the way in which. Every degree has two to 3 distinctive costumes to seek out, with every one being encased in a locked crystal. Earlier than activating one, you’ll need to seek out and use a key. These are normally inside a number of meters of the crystal anyway, making their inclusion really feel fully arbitrary. As soon as collected, you’ll achieve entry to the costume’s powers. You may maintain three costumes at a time, together with duplicates. All extra costumes are despatched to the dressing room, which might be travelled to from any checkpoint. Nevertheless, the choice to not make the costumes everlasting upgrades finally hurts the sport, as costumes additionally operate as your well being. When you take any injury, that costume and its respective energy will disappear till you discover it once more in a stage. That is extremely irritating when the sport desires you to convey costumes again to earlier worlds to seek out hidden collectibles like Balan Trophies. When you get hit as soon as, it’s again to the earlier degree to seek out the costume you misplaced, and that will get extremely tedious.

One of the baffling inclusions, nevertheless, is that Balan Trophies are required to progress the story. Each few worlds, the sport would require a certain quantity of Balan Trophies to progress, resulting in numerous backtracking to get sufficient to maneuver on. There are seven Balan Trophies hidden in every world. Six of them are hidden all through the stage, a few of them requiring costumes you gained’t have acquired as of but. The seventh trophy requires you to seek out the Balan’s Bout minigame in every stage and full it with a superb rank. Every time, the minigame consists of Balan smashing particles, with the participant performing 4 fast time occasions. Since they’re almost the identical each time, the minigame will get outdated in a short time. Having the Balan Trophies be required is the epitome of padding, and it brings the tempo of the sport to a crawl greater than it already is.

That’s to not say all of Balan Wonderworld is an entire mess. Along with some nice costume concepts, such because the Nightfall Butterfly, which helps you to fly at evening, the sport additionally has a reasonably respectable soundtrack. Whereas not all tracks are winners, and the sport tends to repeat them very often, the music is certainly the spotlight right here. Moreover, on PS5, the sport helps the DualSense’s adaptive triggers and haptic suggestions. Every costume has a special feeling, significantly once you use the adaptive triggers as an alternative of the face buttons. This was a pleasing shock, however utilizing the face buttons was nonetheless much more snug than the additional effort wanted to make use of the triggers for each motion. The sport additionally helps full co-op, however there’s a bizarre quirk the place gamers are magnetized collectively and managed as one in the event that they get too shut to 1 one other, turning the sport into an extremely irritating expertise in multiplayer.


Balan Wonderworld stands out as simply one of many worst 3D platformers previously decade. There was no good motive for Sq. Enix and Yuji Naka to salvage this practice wreck and it is a humiliation that this sport was allowed to be launched in any respect in its present state. When the sport’s solely redeeming qualities are some good music and neat DualSense options, one thing clearly went fallacious right here. There isn’t any doubt that Balan Wonderworld ought to’ve remained locked up within the sport design vault it was conceived in twenty years in the past.

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