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The News Website for Glendale High School


The News Website for Glendale High School


Balan Wonderworld

The game that actually makes people wish it was delayed

In the gaming world, old producers, who were in charge of past successful games, are now buckling up to create another retro homage to what once was so beloved. They can either create a game that will become just another masterpiece loved by all or a hot dumpster fire of a mess, which will make it more infamous than the latter. 

This is unfortunately what happened to the new release of Balan Wonderworld, a game directed by the famous Yuji Naka, a man responsible for greate releases such as the Sonic the Hedgehog series and NiGHTS into Dreams. The game also features the work of equally-famed character designer, Naoto Oshima, who had successfully collaborated with Naka in the past. 

However, with the work of such famous figures, who have created many successful and popular games, what has baffled gamers the most is the horrible outcome of Balan Wonderworld and the complete lack of direction or thought that went into the production of the game itself. 

How could anyone have predicted that such a game would fail so miserably? 

The first demo release of Balan Wonderworld revealed a shocking revelation for most who had excitedly watched the high-quality intro of the game. However, when it actually came to finally playing the game, many were unfortunately met with the complete opposite of what the game trailers had even remotely promised. While the trailers promised beautiful animation, well-designed graphics, a promising story line, fast player speed, and intriguing settings, the demo itself was a cheap, sloppy imitation of what could have been. 

Not only that, but the demo ran terribly, with characters softlocking in random areas of the level, making it impossible to play without completely resetting the game. The demo was further hampered by incredibly slow player speed, reducing the game to that of a chore, and the producers thought it would be a smart decision to map everything to one button. 

These are just some of the many bad decisions made in this game, turning away most of the playerbase and breaking the hearts of those who excitedly waited for the eventual release. Some players even begged for the game to be delayed, for the sake of getting a proper game.

To the surprise of no one, the problems that existed since the release of the demo have still found their way into the eventual final release of Balan Wonderworld, especially with regards to the plot. In terms of the actual story of Balan Wonderworld, there isn’t one. (There, I saved you some time.) But seriously, the actual plot of the game is, quite literally, two children getting kidnapped by Balan, sending you to a world where you have to defeat twelve boring and downright chore-like levels. The levels themselves consist of special characters who are dealing with some sort of trauma that the player has to resolve, and then you go home. 

One of the most unfortunate circumstances in the game comes to that of Balan himself, whose design is practically the reason that everyone had gotten so entranced with the game in the first place. However, players will soon realize that you can’t even play as Balan, and the only time that you do is during poorly-animated and shamefully repetitive quick-time-events. 

Aside from that are the actual character outfit designs, including the promise of 80 unique power ups, one of the prime selling points of the game. The problem with these outfit powerups is that many of them will override another outfit powerup in the game, rendering the other one useless. 

There are even some power ups that will render the player completely useless, unable to even move or fight against enemies. One example is the Fox Box Wizard, where your character is a fox wizard that randomly turns into a stationary box, something the developers somehow thought would be a fine addition to the game.

A final big problem with the game is how it runs as a whole. Often there are things that just don’t make sense, such as the key system of the game. Sometimes a costume powerup will be generated right next to a key, rendering the key system useless. Some character outfits will only shoot or attack when you are still and not moving. There are random, out-of-place minigames, not to mention the trophy system, which also defeats the whole purpose of the game being fun. What happens instead is that, if you can’t get a perfect score, you exit the level, re-enter it, then re-play the ENTIRE level just to get a chance at receiving the trophy. 

Now this isn’t entirely a bad thing, as some games may require a player to think harder about where each trophy may be located, bringing an extra challenge to the level and motivating the player to try again. However, this isn’t the case with Balan Wonderworld, as many will find the backtracking and useless repetition as reasons to turn off the game, rather than waste any more time playing it. 

With the disaster that is Balan Wonderworld, many players are now left to wonder what will become of the game itself and what Yuji Naka will do next. For the most part, my biggest problem with the production of this game is how Naka did not grab at the chance to revive NiGHTS into Dreams, which would most likely have been much easier to produce. This also would have been something right up his alley, in terms of forgoing storytelling for the sake of game design and challenging platform levels. 

Aside from that, my second biggest gripe is that the game itself is so simplistic that it essentially alienates anybody who has played video games at least once in their life. Games like this are essentially targeted only for one audience: toddlers. It completely undermines the capabilities of children who can play games, especially since nowadays kids are pretty much jumping onto complicated thought-based shoot-em-up games, such as Fortnite

To sum up, Balan Wonderworld may have good character design and some well-done levels. But as a whole, the game is a reminder of what happens when you give total control to a director who knows nothing of actual storytelling and hires a cast of animators who bite off more than they can chew.

About the Contributor
Elizabeth Nikol Sargsyan
Elizabeth Nikol Sargsyan, Staff Writer
Elizabeth is a senior at Glendale High School. She used to be the Art Club president, and she enjoys animating full time, both as a hobby and for her future career. In her off time, she indulges in weird horror movies and strange horror/sci-fi novels, and she enjoys hiking.
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