In a world where so many big-budget video games feel rather homogenised, to the point where most new releases can be easily described by just comparing it to another (e.g. Avengers is just Destiny but with Marvel), Balan Wonderworld really stands out from the crowd.
Wonderworld is the first title from new Square Enix subsidiary Balan Company, which is being directed by Yuji Naka (one of the men credited with creating Sonic the Hedgehog). Balan Wonderworld wears its inspiration on its sleeve and is quite clearly meant to evoke a sense of nostalgia from players despite being an original IP.
I’m sure you’ve seen every other outlet make obvious comparisons to old Sega games like Nights and Billy Hatcher, and you can hardly blame them. Watching the announcement trailer made me feel like I had stepped through a wormhole back to the late 90s or early 2000s but despite some trepidation about the whole thing I was admittedly quite charmed by just how strange this game seemed. The world could desperately do with more 3D-platformers that aren’t Super Mario or crowdfunded indie projects like A Hat in Time.
So, with a surprisingly sizable demo now available, it made sense to investigate this new world of Balan and let Naka and his team try to convince me to give this new (planned) franchise of theirs a look-see. Unfortunately, those aforementioned trepidations turned out to be justified.
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