"YOU'RE WINNER !" —Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing
"Okay, this is my theory on this game: started off as an actual video game, then they realized that they wouldn't have enough time to actually make it good, so the developers started trolling each other and putting in these shitty power-ups, and then it just became a contest of who could make the shittiest power-up imaginable, and now this is the final product."— videogamedunkey
Balan Wonderworld is a platform video game released on March 26, 2021 for Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S. It was co-developed by Japanese developers Balan Company and Arzest (the creators of Yoshi's New Island and Hey! Pikmin), and published by Square Enix. The game was directed by Yuji Naka, co-creator of Sonic the Hedgehog and the NiGHTS series, who also founded Balan Company, as a subsidiary of Square Enix.
Balan Wonderworld is the first video game ever developed by Balan Company, the subsidiary of Square Enix, founded in 2018 by the creator of the Sonic the Hedgehog and NiGHTS series - Yuji Naka. Naka described Balan Company as a collective of designers and artists focusing on genres outside the norms of a Japanese company Square Enix. Apart from the Balan Company, Arzest is also responsible for the game's development process, who was previously working on Nintendo-published games like Yoshi's New Island and Hey! Pikmin. A key staff member at Arzest was Naoto Ohshima, a former Sega artist, the co-founder of Artoon and Arzest, and a designer of Sonic the Hedgehog and Dr. Eggman. It was the first collaboration between Naka and Ohshima since Sonic Adventure in 1998.
Before the release, Yuji Naka said that Square Enix gave him only one chance to create a platform game. Naka explained how he managed to convince the RPG giant to greenlight a platform game – his first in many years, saying "I think Square Enix has an RPG image, but I don't think I'd be good at making RPGs"
Players take on the role of either Leo Craig or Emma Cole, two children drawn into the magical realm of Wonderworld by a being called Balan. The game plays out across twelve multi-level areas called Chapters. At the beginning of the game only the first Chapter is available, unless you collect "Balan Statues" in each area will unlock new Chapters. In each Chapter, the player must navigate through a sandbox environment, searching areas for collectables, and solving puzzles to progress to the end of the level. While exploring, you find costumes unlocked from crystals using collectable keys. Costumes grant abilities such as hovering, navigating particular hazards and paths, and fighting enemies. When not wearing one of 80 costumes, the main character is only available to jump and do basic movement. During exploration, enemies called Negati will appear and attack Leo or Emma. Each Chapter ends with a mini-boss after the Chapter's environment and narrative.
Why It Sucks
- The most fundamental problem is that the game itself feels incredibly old, which is unacceptable for 2021 standards. The game mechanically and in terms of playability and other problems from which it suffers, is reminiscent of a game from the late 1990s, more specifically the era of early platformers from the era of the first PlayStation or Sega Saturn games, only with partially modern graphics.
- Generally the game is boring because there is little action compared to constantly exploring boring levels. The number of enemies is pathetically small, but also enemies aren't common in any level.
- The enemies themselves are an absolute disappointment, due to how badly designed they are in terms of the very limited actions they actually have. They are repetitive, but also defeating them in some situations is pointless, because at times you can complete the level without any problems, as long as they aren't close to the gate that must be opened by defeating the mini-boss in each Act Two of any Chapter.
- Another aspect that isn't fun are the puzzles. They are extremely easy, even for a game aimed at children. They mainly focus on puzzles based on floor buttons, manipulating a large ball that is chasing you, using a costume to manipulate objects, and other simple puzzles for a dedicated Chapter.
- However, the worst part of this game is the limited actions that are devoid of the often known actions in platform games, such as double jump (excluding the Double Jumper costume), spin jump, crouch, slippery, somersault, sprint, and many other important actions.
- Even worse, there's no climbing mechanic when jumping onto any ledge. Some early 3D platformers like Super Mario 64 had the player able to climb on a ledge, which was implemented nearly 25 years before this game came out. This is blatantly unbelievable for a platformer game released in 2021.
- While it may be beautiful and colorful, its overall graphic artistry is outdated. Despite running on the Unreal Engine 4, it is more reminiscent of a budget game from the Xbox 360 era, and you can see it at every step. The game features many low-quality textures that look mostly from an early 2000s game, and at worst from the Nintendo 64 era, the character models are stiff, lifeless, and reminiscent of Chinese bootleg dolls, and there are some poorly-done objects like mirrors and many objects dedicated to any Chapter. However, the ugliest element of the game is certainly the natural elements, such as the ground, grass, and plants. At times, pixels are visible, especially in the previously mentioned character models.
- The Nintendo Switch version is made for the least resistance line. It suffers from many aspects worse than the average Switch port, making it the worst option to play. However, it's not an Ark: Survival Evolved level of porting awfulness or even Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night for that matter, but the port still certainly looks and plays terrible.
- The graphics look worse here, making it look like a game from the era between the Dreamcast and the Wii. There are even more blurry textures, less refined character models with even more visible pixels, much worse-looking objects that looks unimaginably awful, and generally feels like a shovelware cash-in when it comes to lazy graphic artistry. The main problem with the downgrade the game goes through is that it plays in low resolution and in 480p.
- The optimization is also extremely poor. The game is not only about 30FPS, but also not stable, mostly running in less than 25FPS, at worst 15FPS. It is also worth mentioning that this port is so badly made, that the mirror is not only uglier, but the frame rate is also pathetic, which is noticeable when you control your character on the mirror side. This makes this release extremely obnoxious, and at worst, unplayable.
- The game is in many ways weirdly-directed, lazily-designed, and generally lacks of polish, which results in a game qualitatively similar to the shovelware games of the Wii era.
- When you approach any NPC, they suddenly disappear for no reason. Some have called this "Reverse Draw Distance".
- When playing any level, you will often experience unnecessary bubbles that appear in random places that are unpleasant and annoying.
- The game uses the rotation effect that is visible when running forward and backwards, which is very strange, unnecessary, and at worst, some players who are sensitive to this effect might get dizzy.
- When entering a body of water, the character's legs don't enter the water, but they instead walk on the water, and you additionally run at normal speed, instead of physically moving slower.
- The game can be illogical. For example, in Chapter One, Act One, in the beginning you will encounter a giant farmer sitting around and staring at you, where he will disappear when you approach him, but the same farmer reappears above the mirror, and at almost the end of the stage in normal height. You will also experience this in the rest of the Chapters.
- In the game, the characters do not express any emotions and the facial expressions do not change, except for the CGI cutscenes. It is also noticeable in the in-game cutscenes of the dance show, where everyone is dancing, but the facial expressions still remain as is.
- The dance of creatures is added just to see anything alive except the main character, some characters who occasionally appear, and enemies along the way. This is very bland and completely artificial, because not only do they dance forever, but they also do it for no reason, because they don't have a device that plays the music for which they could freely dance.
- Destructible objects are placed in wrong places or lazily placed in random places, which is downright ridiculous. This is especially visible in the first level, where a destructible object prevents you from going up a hill (until you destroy this with the help of the first costume, which you receive), where there is a floor button that allows the player to open a door that is impossible for the player, alongside with some destructible objects that hide Drops.
- Like destructible objects, keys are also not only placed in random places, but they are also pathetically close (and even literally next to the crystal that gives you the costume) which poses no challenge to you.
- For an undefined reason, (in some places) creatures always appear out of nowhere, dancing for several seconds to the same song, then they disappear.
- When you press a floor button, especially that which opens the gate that allows you to pass, has a huge ball that follows the player, then the main character freezes, and you are unable to move for that moment. Speaking of freezing, this is what happens when you try to fall lower or jump after the pressing that button.
- In situations where you see a passage to a given inner place, the passage is blocked by a white screen, though this only acts as an effect that is still penetrable.
- Every time you fall off a level, a white screen appears for a few seconds until you respawn at the last checkpoint. This was not something in the demo, but for a stupid reason it is introduced in the full version.
- The game in some places has ineptly inserted platforms that can be passable next to them, mainly in the Chapter One, Act One, when you want to get one Balan Statue.
- The final boss contains unimaginably displeasing things that could easily trigger seizure issues for the player, especially for whom this game is aimed at. It is supposed to be a game for children, but such an effect could have negative impressions for an adult person, at least one who is very sensitive to such effects. This issue appeared in the full version prior to the Day 1 Patch, which later got rid of it.
- It suffers from some technical issues, mainly graphical ones.
- In the first level, you can always notice a penetration of every object, which are collapsing under the gears, which later generate the level.
- Due to its terrible draw distance, there are frequent pop-in issues, which are noticeable in its demo version, when you approach an object that could not be seen from a greater distance, but also experienced in in-game cutscenes, especially in the first in-game cutscene, where clouds and natural elements appear after a while. This has been partially fixed in the full version, although it can still be experienced in some places.
- In the demo, there was a problem with the character models that made a T-pose, specifically the main character in Isle of Tims in the first frame, and the first boss. This was most noticeable on the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 5 versions, but this issue has been mostly fixed in the full version. Despite efforts to fix this graphical glitch, in the full version it's still there, which could be seen in the mirror, for example, showing a chubby woman doing a T-pose.
- Its performance crunches at times for an undefined reason, at least for console versions. For the Microsoft Windows version is reasonable because it has a built-in DRM called Denuvo Anti-Tamper which results in weak-to-see optimization.
- In co-op mode, when you play with your friend and want to get to a distant place, you can fly endlessly; when you initially turn on the interconnect mechanic and then turn it off, you can safely fly while your friend is falling and respawns under you. This method works best with a Soaring Sheep costume.
- The controls are not only poorly-implemented, but also incredibly limited. As befits a platformer, the controls include not only controlling the main character by jumping and running, but also doing whatever action. However, in this game, when you don't have the costumes that the game tells you to get, as regular Leo or Emma you can't do anything except jumping and running.
- The game is so inept that the four basic buttons + two triggers on any controller perform exactly the same action. If that wasn't enough, any action like jumping, shooting, pulling up, spinning, and many others, are implemented under the same button as jump. Sound familiar?
- The options menu uses all four main buttons as the select option, so you're pretty much forced to go back by selecting the back option. They even managed to cripple the menus for this game, which is actually impressive in itself.
- The characters also move unimaginably slow, even though they appear to be running. It is also worth pointing out that the characters move like they're on ice, which results in the fact that at every turn, the character momentarily slips and then twists.
- The animations are so hilariously terrible that they make you laugh.
- The biggest display of mediocrity is the running animation, which not only is inaccurate to the speed of the character, but also looks like a preschooler is chasing you at ferret speed.
- It's worth recalling the jumping animations, specifically jumping at a thin-winged flying golden ball.
- After defeating any boss, you have the opportunity to see repeated animations that are limited to the suffering of the boss, which later shrinks to microscopic sizes, ending with the rescued person who also has the same animation of flying down and approaching the protagonist for each chapter.
- In some situations, if you are wearing a Ladderman costume, you have the opportunity to see an extremely stiff animation of climbing a ladder that only causes a burst of laughter from such ineptitude.
- This is one of the few platformers that forces you to grind with your costumes. If you want to collect as many Drops and Balan Statues as possible, you are forced to unlock all the costumes from later Chapters that perform the given action, which are absolutely necessary if you want to collect all of them for 100% completion. For example, in Chapter One, specifically in Act One titled The Man Who Rages Against the Storm, you will encounter a spider web that has several Drops at its disposal, then you'll need to use the spider costume (even worse, if you don't have it, you'll have to go all the way back to the levels it's in).
- It should be noted that most Lego games do something similar but there you just had to unlock a character with the needed ability by collecting studs and once you unlocked them you can switch to them whenever.
- False advertising and misleading appear both inside and outside the game:
- Square Enix and Nintendo provide trailers from the game, which are dedicated to the Nintendo Switch version, where the gameplay is actually from other versions, because the Switch version differs in the quality of graphics and stability, making Switch owners feel cheated. Additionally, on the Nintendo e-Shop digital platform, there are only three screenshots that come from the cutscenes, showing nothing at all related to the gameplay.
- As Sonic Team creates the Sonic the Hedgehog series, where Sonic actually plays the main role, this game is the complete opposite. Although the name of the company and the title of the game suggest that Balan will be the main character, it turns out to be completely misleading. In fact, the main role is played by children named Leo Craig or Emma Cole if you choose one of them, but Balan is only playable in the QTE sections.
- There's no plot at all at least, not in the game itself. It was discovered that this game does have backstory as to what's happening but you have to buy the book, Balan Wonderworld: Maestro of Mystery, Theatre of Wonders, to even know what's happening, which is ridiculous. What's worse is that you have pay an extra $10 just to know what's happening in a game, which was $60 upon release.
- So this is the plot. Balan Wonderworld mostly takes place in the Balan Theater, a magical realm overseen by a mysterious being called Balan. The Balan Theater appears when one's heart loses its balance, and connects to Wonderworld, a realm merging reality and fantasy created from memories and hearts. The protagonists are two children called Leo Craig and Emma Cole. Both are troubled; Leo isolates himself from social contact due to an argument with a friend years before, while Emma suffers from anxiety about what others might be saying behind her back. Both are drawn into the Balan Theater, and travel through twelve worlds born from the hearts of troubled adults and children alike. Leo and Emma are opposed by Lance, a counterpart to Balan who commands the Negati, monsters born from the darkness of Wonderworld's visitors and is turning the troubled adults and children into bosses of the game. After completing all twelve worlds and freeing their inhabitants of their burdens, Balan opens a portal for the chosen character to fight Lance. Upon his defeat, Lance is briefly shown in his true less menacing form before the Negati drag him into their realm. Balan then bids farewell to all of Wonderworld's visitors, though Leo and Emma's farewell is touching enough that he sheds a tear and shows them his real form; a human-like being similar to Lance in appearance. Leo and Emma are returned to the real world and face their problems; Leo connects with a dancing group he had previously shunned, while Emma learns of a birthday party thrown for her that her servants were keeping secret. The ending credits show stills of Wonderworld's visitors reuniting in the real world watched over by Balan.
- NONE OF THIS IS EXPLAINED IN THE GAME PERIOD! In game, the plot boils down to Leo leaving the playing field and Emma leaving the castle, where they both find one of the Tims, who leads to the theater where Balan is located. Balan then begins a show of the eponymous "Wonderworld", accompanied by Tims, where he leads the main characters to Wonderworld. At the end of the game, there is a typical happy ending, where the entire crew of the two children you control, the rescued people, Balan, and Lance in a good form will assemble, where everyone is later leaving the theater, until eventually both kids return to the same place where they both came from, except in a better mood.
- Even with this context, the characters have no personalities at all. The main characters especially are generic and forgettable kids who are not even mentioned in the title of the game.
- What doesn't help is how incredibly little dialogue the game has, with only Balan speaking throughout the entire game, while the rest of the characters at most make no noise.
- The costumes, the main indicator of this game, are a complete disappointment in several respects, mainly because of how they have limited actions combined with the strange direction of the game controls, but also there are many useless and unnecessary costumes. There are those who have one duplicated action. The most pointless costumes are the ones that won't even let you jump, in a platforming game, where jumping is a common action. Examples of poorly-done and duplicated costumes include:
- Elastiplant: You play as a sunflower costume in which you stretch your body upwards, but it doesn't let you jump and just lifts you up slightly when you let go of the action button. It is abysmal in sections when you need to attack an enemy, and is completely useless in platform sections.
- Dainty Dragon: A costume depicting a dragon that is the most useless dragon in video game history. Its shooting distance is pathetic, no matter how much you shoot, the effect will remain the same. Dragon cannot move for awhile while shooting or throwing, which can result in the loss of a costume if the enemy attacks you. At worst, it is the second costume that does not allow you to jump.
- Jellyjolt and Dynamic Dolphin: Both have the ability to swim on the water that is designed to put you on the way to the level crossing. The only difference is that the Dynamic Dolphin is able to descend while swimming (as only he can), while the Jellyjolt is more useful for combat than for its main action.
- Bubble Blower: A costume that activates a bubble under you that moves terribly slowly but breaks after a few seconds. For the rest of the game, it is absolutely terrible due to the limitations of the costume.
- Telepotter: Completely unnecessary and weak costume that is absolutely not suitable for platforming and combat elements. It is used to teleport only a few centimeters forward; however, it has little or even no impact on the further progress of the game.
- Lovely Lantern: The costume serves only under the lighting of the nearest place, but suffers from even more cumbersome and slower controls, which makes it woefully ineffective for the rest of the game.
- Web Wrangler: A costume where you play a role as a spider that just climbs a spider web, while in combat it is terribly uninvolved as it hasn't been given any combat-related power to it. The possibility for him to throw a spider web (which will be useful for its combat) hasn't even been added, which shows that this spider is completely soulless and artificial.
- Itsy-Bitsy Elf: It is useless in platforming and in combat due to its height, so it only serves to get into places unavailable to other costumes that contain several Drops.
- Box Fox: Easily the worst and utterly useless costume. As the name implies, it is a fox costume that automatically turns into a box, in which you have no control, including stopping it and twisting it to a different side. The creation of such a costume will be a mystery for the next millennium.
- Happy Horn and Amadeus: Costumes that don't make any sense whatsoever and have little to do with a movement or combat upgrade, only have the ability to start a section of a short concert that rewards a few Drops.
- Guardian Bird: It is a bird costume that appears to be slow and the combat is clunky and unsatisfying, as the action it uses is used under the same buttons as the jump, which is an underwhelming and pointless combination. There are times when its shot is missed, even though you hit him, resulting in a poor shooting distance.
- Lickshot Lizard: Another non-jump costume, this time played as a chameleon that only can shoot its tongue at the objects it needs to target in hopes of passing the game. In combat, it is absolutely horrendous, because even with its tongue, it cannot attack.
- Lucky Egg and Lucky Bird: Lucky Egg is a costume that shows a chicken almost hatched from an egg, which only has a magnet at its disposal, attracting Drops. In terms of combat elements and platform, it is completely pointless. The situation is similar with Lucky Bird, except that it is not partially in the egg.
- Pumpkin Puncher and Paladin Puncher: Pumpkin Puncher is a pumpkin costume distinguished by the fact that it has body parts. Its only ability is to punch. In combat elements, it might be decent, due to its punching distance, but in platform elements, as befits a costume with jump allergy, is abysmal. The Paladin Puncher has a similar ability to the previously mentioned costume, except that the punch distance is much weaker, making the latter pointless.
- Lethal Vacuum Blaster and Vacuum Blaster: The most cynical costumes in which you play as a vacuum cleaner that can only suck Drops and enemies out. They are completely unnecessary in the rest of the game, and they only show the humor of the developers. They are the next costumes for which the jump is impossible to do and are distinguished only by their appearance.
- Laser Launcher and Quad Cannon: In the case of Laser Launcher, you are a robot that can shoot lasers while you are standing still. It is generally useless due to its shockingly bad actions and does not affect the gameplay at all. The only redeeming trait is that it can jump, due to the fact that the main action does not require an action button. It is exactly the same with the Quad Cannon, except that it is one of the chess pieces that shoots the balls.
- Speedy Cheetah: A cheetah costume that has a power that allows you to sprint automatically, but can get in the way in some situations, especially in places with the most abysses.
- Hardy Hammer: Poorly made costume that you can hardly ever need, except when destroying objects impossible by other costumes. This costume is frustrating due to the slower movement and, like the mass of other costumes, it has no idea what jumping is.
- Frost Giant: Once again, a costume that has no idea what a jump is. In terms of combat, it is more useful because it will freeze opponents in ice with the snow it spits out of its mouth. However, the costume does not affect the walkthrough at all.
- Lethal Laser Launcher: A costume that never saw a jump. Its handling is cumbersome, due to a very slow movement, and shooting is not at all satisfactory, as it cannot be controlled during the shot.
- Rail Runner: A costume useful only during running on a train rail. For the rest of the game, it's completely redundant as it doesn't get any upgrades for jumping or combat.
- Happy Blaster: A costume that is completely redundant and does not affect the progress of the game. All it can do is explode to the distance indicated by the game, and the jump is utterly avoided.
- Slow Tortoise: A costume that has completely wasted potential, because it is another costume that does not allow for the basic element of the platformer, which is the jump, and is useless in terms of combat. The only thing that can redeem it is that it has the ability to slow down objects, which is useful in some situations.
- Moon Walker: Absolutely redundant costume that only exists to add more costumes. This in no way affects the progress of the game and does not receive any upgrades for the rest of the aspects. The only thing it can do apart from the basic jump is stop the world, but it's pretty useless as there is absolutely no difference in terms of gameplay.
- Inky Blaster: A costume that has not learned to jump. The only thing he does is paint with his balls, which is only useful for the Chapter Ten walkthrough, but it's completely unnecessary for the rest of the game.
- Sneaky Lizard: A costume that is not only useless in the platforming elements, due to its lack of abilities like a jump, but also in combat. The only one thing it will ever do is teleport to Drops.
- Double Trouble and Air Double Trouble: Clone-forming costumes that only lasts a dozen seconds. Overall, they are completely unnecessary due to how poorly it works in terms of platform and combat elements. Air Double Trouble differs only in that the clone can fly, but it is not needed to complete the game.
- Key Mouse: A costume that plays as a mouse with a key on its tail that allows the costume crystal to be opened without the usual key you are looking for. In other cases, it is unnecessary.
- Water Blaster: A hydrant-like costume to defeat lava with the help of spherical water, flying from the hand. The shooting itself is terrible as you don't control the shot, only the power-up itself is fired directly, which in some cases results in it not always going where you want it most. In other cases, it is completely inept, due to the inability to jump and is useless in combat.
- Iron Apollo and Airy Apollo: Two of the worst costumes ever made. In the case of Iron Apollo, you become a rocket that moves and flies up unimaginably slow compared to the speed of a turtle. This makes the costume completely useless in general, both in combat and in platform elements. The exact same situation is with Airy Apollo, who shares the same skill and utility level, except that you are not a rocket, but an astronaut.
- Flame Blaster: A costume reminiscent of Shadow the Hedgehog, only this one has a fear of jumping. His flame missiles are fired from his hands, which can bounce off the floor, making them turn at moments in the direction you don't want.
- Invisible Man: The name itself suggests that you will be invisible; however, in this game, it is more disturbing than helping, especially in dark levels. In platform elements, it also leaves a lot to be desired, often leading to cheap deaths due to the fact that you can barely notice a shadow while jumping.
- Jolt Tiger: A tiger costume that is also not gifted with a jump. Instead, it activates a shield that is barely useful as the enemies themselves do not appear often and can be quickly changed to a different costume.
- Sun Walker: A costume depicting the sun with a body. Its ability is to stop all objects so they can't move at all, but it's only triggered when you're standing still, making it useless. You do not even use this power with the action button.
- The level design is shabby, boring, seems unfinished, and at worst looks like it was designed by a college student in two weeks. The levels are short, there are too few details, they do not pose any challenge to traversing the platform elements, which are not so much here for the standards of this genre. The worst offender is Chapter One, which is so monstrously blandly-designed that it literally looks like if it was designed in less that one month.
- Some levels are poorly programmed; in Chapter 8: Act 2 - The Lady Too Scared to Love, you can pass through the trees and jump in a part where you can skip all the level until you reach the goal . With this glitch, you can complete this level without needing a costume to solve the puzzles in the level. It sounds like no one could even program a single invisible wall to prevent players cheating by cutting paths.
- The game may be easy, but to some extent it causes artificial difficulty.
- In this game, if you get hit once, you lose one of the three costumes you already have. If that wasn't enough, after losing the costume that accompanied you during the game, you cannot choose that lost costume in the menu related to costumes, you are forced to choose another costume. In order to get it back, go and luckily find a crystal that will give you a random costume or restart the level.
- There are situations where, due to your decision, you will be left with one costume that will not allow you to jump in a place where the jump is necessary to pass, which results in preventing the passage of the level at this point, until you die and go back to the wardrobe to choose a more useful costume.
- The mini-games are boring and repetitive. Overall, they feel like they've been put in just to keep you from experiencing the platforming levels themselves, which aren't fun on their own.
- Balan, the most distinctive character, so praised by the developers due to their studio name and their gaming masterclass, is treated as a side character. The only way you get the chance to play as Balan is in a boring and repetitive quick time events mini-game. When you find a large golden hat with a hiding Balan, a mini-game starts where you control Balan and go through four rounds of quick time events, in which you have four times to tap or mash one button, when Balan's shadow lines up with him. This mini-game is repeated almost fifty times with pitifully little variation.
- The sports mini-games are a tad disappointing, mainly because there are too few of them and they are repetitive. There are only four mini-games that are available through the crystal that generates the costumes, which consist of:
- Football: The mini-game is unlocked through the Footballer costume. The task is to make you kick a ball at square vertical wall tiles, avoiding the wooden Balan imitation. It gets boring quickly as it has no other content and any variety.
- Golf: The mini-game is unlocked through the Golfer costume. The rules are the same as in ordinary golf; it consists in hitting the ball in the designated hole. The mini-game is annoying because of how close the goal is, which can make you hit too hard often.
- Bowling: The mini-game is unlocked through the Bowler costume. It follows the same rules of regular bowling, expect there are pins with pasted Balan faces. This mini-game is boring as it has no variety, just regular pins with different patterns.
- Baseball: It follows the rules of baseball, but in this game you bounce the ball to hit the vertical tiles.
- Collecting Drops is completely irrelevant as they do not affect the gameplay at all. It's practically useful only in the situation of feeding the Tims, which are used to build structures with the help of the windmill on which they crawl. These structures themselves only exist as decorations and other things from the Isle of Tims are simply pointless.
- Tims are poorly-executed in the levels you are heading for in a given Chapter. On the one hand, they find a few Drops or eggs, but on the other, they are extremely weak when it comes to combat, because they cannot defeat the enemies, but only touch them. Besides, Tims are very often eaten by a live aggressive plant, falling into it without making any effort to free themselves from it, only you must defeat a plant to rescue Tims. They apparently are designed for a farm, which itself is redundant, as mentioned earlier.
- Bosses are disappointing at times because of their health, limited to three lives, which is the same as mini-bosses have. Also, the fight with them is not the longest, which lasts shorter than cutscenes before and after the boss fight.
- The number of levels is pathetically small, especially compared to many modern platformers like Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time. That game had 100 levels, while Balan Wonderworld in every Chapter has two platform levels, and a boss, having a total of 37 levels if you count all 24 platform levels and 13 bosses. All this means that you will complete the game in less than 10 hours, which is a result shorter than in the previously discussed game.
- The game, although it is aimed at children from different worlds, offering many languages to choose from, the voices are only done in the game's own language, which is known as "Balanese", uses English words pronounced backwards and some Japanese words too. The average player wouldn't mind at all for role-playing games, but in platform games it is pointless and only makes it that children are forced to read dialogues in a language that's made up. It is worth recalling that there are several Japanese companies who release platformers with English voices from under their hands, which has always been a staple in Sega and Nintendo games.
- For a game done with very little effort of development, the price is just one big circus and sheer greed for the publisher's money as this game costed a whopping $60 on release.
- The game cinematics are absolutely gorgeous, incredible, and surprisingly good. They are so wonderful that they almost resemble a CGI movie by Pixar or DreamWorks Animation. The reason why is because Square Enix's subsidiary Visual Works is responsible for the cinematics, who works with them to create rendered cutscenes for their games. There is a certain chance that a lot more budget is allocated here than for the game itself.
- Speaking of cutscenes and the fact that they are extremely well-kept, the game has both versions of the first cutscene at your disposal, both Leo, who is in the plaing field, and Emma, who is in the castle. They can also differ in the color of the skin and hair you choose in character selection, and the version of your character appears in pre-rendered cutscenes.
- After defeating each boss, there are in-game cutscenes where a dance show takes place, with the NPCs, the main character, and the rescued person. This is a nice addition as the game mostly takes place in a theater where music also plays a major role.
- The soundtrack is wonderful, especially Clocktower and Grassland, which is both enjoyable to listen to, but also relevant to the vibe. The best songs you can hear in its cutscenes, both pre-rendered and created on the game engine.
- The design of the characters is really nicely realized, especially Balan who has a hat with vivid eyes attached to them, as is the case with many costumes who can look adorable on one side, and crazy on the other. All this shows that this easily noticeable style of characters must have been done by Naoto Ohshima, as already proved in the case of Sonic the Hedgehog and Dr. Eggman.
- Bosses are pretty good as you can defeat them in several ways, with the best being the final boss. The fights themselves are quite interesting, because they don't do the same thing over and over again, but sometimes they try to attack in a few other ways like you defeat them. Despite this, they are flawed, as discussed in WIS #17.
- Some costumes are actually good, especially the ones that have useful action and allow you to jump. There are many helpful costumes that affect the completion of the game, especially the Gear Prince, Tornado Wolf, and even some of the useless ones dedicated to any Chapter.
- Comicbook.com - 2/10
- Digital Trends - 1.5/5
- Easy Allies - 4.5/10
- GamingBolt - 4/10
- God is a Geek - 5/10
- Hardcore Gamer - 2/5
- Metro - 4/10
- Nintendo Life - 3/10
- NintendoWorldReport - 3/10
- Noisy Pixel - 5/10
- PlayStation LifeStyle - 4.5/10
- Pocket Tactics - 2/10
- Pure Xbox - 3/10
- Push Square - 3/10
- Screen Rant - 2/5
Balan Wonderworld was met with a mixed-to-negative reception from critics and users alike. The game has been widely criticized for its level design, technical issues, design choices, controls, costumes, and performance, while the soundtrack, character design, and cutscenes were largely praised.
On Metacritic, the Nintendo Switch version received a score of 33/100 ("Generally unfavorable reviews"), the PC and PlayStation 4 versions received 46/100 ("Generally unfavorable reviews"), the PlayStation 5 version holds a score of 50/100 ("Mixed or average reviews"), and the Xbox Series X version received 39/100 ("Generally unfavorable reviews"). Moreover, it has been accused on Metacritic that positive user reviews consist of bots with a similar writing style, poor grammar, randomly generated usernames that look similar, and they have reviewed only one game on their accounts, which is Balan Wonderworld.
On OpenCritic, the game received a rating of "Weak", an average score of 49/100 and a 9% critics recommend, based on 55 reviews.
Metro gave for Balan Wonderworld a 4/10, saying "A slightly embarrassing attempt to recall the early days of 3D platforming, with a central gimmick that never really captures the imagination and clunky controls and gameplay."
Giving Balan Wonderworld a 3/10, Nintendo Life's Mitch Vogel considered the game as "a waste of your time". He criticized the performance, level design, and gameplay, while he praised the graphics. Alex Olney made the video version of Vogel's review, though he didn't always agree with the lead reviewer in terms of graphics he found "atrocious". Alex considered Balan Wonderworld as one of the worst games he had played in years. Sister websites, Push Square and Pure Xbox gave the same score for Balan Wonderworld.
DreamcastGuy in his video review stated that "this is easily one of the worst games I have even played in my entire life", giving the final score of 2/10.
Cameron Bald from Pocket Tactics gave a 2/10, describing the game as "an otherworldly disaster". According to the reviewer, the game is "tedious to play, visually repellent, and – at least on Switch – stomach-churning to control".
The game is not only a failure in the press, but also in terms of sales. According to PlayStation LifeStyle, the game flops in Japan, selling less that 2,100 copies in its first week. The game failed to hit the top 30 in the Nintendo eShop charts in both Japan and North America, and this week's UK charts show that the game didn't manage to break into the top 40, being outsold by plenty of titles that have been sitting in the charts for over 100 weeks. It also did not help that the game was released on the same day as Monster Hunter Rise which more or less destroyed Balan Wonderworld in sales!
- This is the largest page of the Crappy Games Wiki to date.
- The Drops collecting sound effect was inspired by the game called Nights into Dreams, another game by Yuji Naka.
- Eurogamer - Balan Wonderworld sure feels a lot like a classic Sonic Team game
- Video Games Chronicle - https://www.videogameschronicle.com/news/sonics-creator-says-he-has-one-chance-to-make-a-new-platformer-with-balan/
- Side passage of the platform
- Balan Wonderworld's T-pose glitch #1
- Balan Wonderworld's T-pose glitch #2
- Balan Wonderworld's infinite flying glitch
- YouTube: Nintendo - Balan Wonderworld - A Hero or Two Trailer - Nintendo Switch
- Nintendo - Balan Wonderworld
- 【Balan Wonderworld】 8-2 No-Costume Skip
- Metacritic - Balan Wonderworld for Switch Reviews
- Metacritic - Balan Wonderworld for PC Reviews
- Metacritic - Balan Wonderworld for PlayStation 4 Reviews
- Metacritic - Balan Wonderworld for PlayStation 5 Reviews
- Metacritic - Balan Wonderworld for Xbox Series X Reviews
- OpenCritic - Balan Wonderworld
- Comicbook.com - Balan Wonderworld Review: A Confusing, Frustrating Slog
- Digital Trends - Balan Wonderworld review: I think to myself, what a blunder-full world
- Easy Allies - Review: Balan Wonderworld
- GamingBolt - Balan Wonderworld Review – Anything but Wondrous
- God is a Geek - Balan Wonderworld review
- Hardcore Gamer - Review: Balan Wonderworld
- Metro - Balan Wonderworld review – NiGHTS into nightmares
- Nintendo Life - Balan Wonderworld Review (Switch): A relic of another age
- NintendoWorldReport - Balan Wonderworld (Switch) Review
- Noisy Pixel - Balan Wonderworld Review – I Wonder What This World Could Have Been
- PlayStation LifeStyle - Balan Wonderworld Review – A Wonderment of Bizarre Decisions (PS5)
- Pocket Tactics - Balan Wonderworld Switch review – an otherworldly disaster
- Pure Xbox - Balan Wonderworld Review (Xbox Series X|S): Everyone's mad here
- Push Square - Balan Wonderworld Review (PS5): There is no wonder in this world
- Screen Rant - Balan Wonderworld Review: A Far Cry From A Wonderland
- Pure Xbox - Balan Wonderworld Is Getting Some Pretty Suspicious User Reviews On Metacritic
- Twitter: @SpawnWaveMedia - These Balan Wonderworld User Reviews look like a bunch of bots, weird.
- YouTube: Nintendo Life - Balan Wonderworld Nintendo Switch Review - Is It Worth It?
- YouTube: DreamcastGuy - WORST Game of 2021?! - Balan Wonderworld Review
- PlayStation LifeStyle - Balan Wonderworld Flops in Japan, Selling Less Than 2,100 Copies in Its First Week