This week on The Entertainment Dome, James and I gush about the Steam Deck and Spy x Family respectively, before discussing Square Enix’s recent sale of its Western studios.
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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2020 sucked. I know that’s not an original thought, but it still feels like it needs to be said. And video games, or rather the industry itself, didn’t always help alleviate how truly awful it was.
Ubisoft was hit with numerous allegations of sexual assault and abuse, Activision continues to make all the money in the world yet lays off its employees, and where do I even start with Cyberpunk 2077?
But, for as crappy as it all was, there were occasional bright spots. 2019’s Among Us found belated success thanks to livestreaming and put its studio, InnerSloth, on the map, Animal Crossing: New Horizons managed to unite the world and foster connections while everyone was trapped indoors, and the release of Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition meant more people could play my favourite game of all time.
2021 isn’t going to automatically be better than last year but, as always with these lists, I’m going to focus on the potentially good things coming this year; specifically, the games I’m most excited for.