Saturday, 20 March 2021

Balan Wonderworld Demo - Nights on Training Wheels

 So, you wanted high flying action? Mysterious and wondrous worlds of beauty and glamour? How about amazingly smooth gameplay with awesome mechanics? Well, if you were expecting a true successor to Nights Into Dreams, allow me to probably be the 10th person to tell you, this ain't it. What they did was take the most basic mechanic of walking around as a child in Nights, added some power-ups and crappy puzzle solving and slapped it onto a game. Then they added some Chao clones and one cool enemy along with his generic minions and called it a day. 

Do not get me wrong, I know this is a demo and I know that there could still be some good stuff here, but that's where they really screwed it all up. The point of the demo is to give people a taste of what is to come and make them want more. What this gave us is the most basic of 3D platformers with the same problems in depth perception and cryptic purpose to all of it. If this is really all we have in store for us, count me out.

This leads me to believe that if there is something of a Nights flying mechanic, it is buried underneath idiotic level designs and time-wasting bonus rounds in the "Balan Bout" segment. These segments heighten your score but they are not fun in the least; they are Quick Time Events: The Game.

Nights Into Dreams mixed with elements of Alice in Wonderland should have been a homerun. Well, it's not even a first base hit. It attempts to make the level designs interesting, but it's stuff we've seen twenty million times before. So, now we're walking around as a child in this watered down version of Wonderland. Do the power-ups even make a dent in this boredom? Of course, not. The best thing about them is that they called the rabbit suits "Jumping Jacks" which is very mildly clever. Beyond that, you're a sprouting flower much in the vain of Mario Odyssey, a dragon that puffs out a scrawny fart of fire and a rabbit suit that does the Luigi running long jump. The next power up is just a pig suit that makes you do the super stomp, much like MARIO!

Funny how this "Nights clone" is looking more and more like the gargantuan Nintendo franchise. It's almost like they didn't want to spend all of that time and effort on creating full blown flying mechanics so they just asked themselves "What's easier and doesn't take a whole lot of thought? I got a dinner date for the rest of the week." Okay, that was a bit cruel to the developers but what else are we supposed to think? They had every single bit of potential this world had to offer and they cheaped out on us! 

The introduction graphics and opening theme are quite good, if we're going for compliments. The opening score is nice to listen to and it's quite obvious that there was a lot of effort put into certain elements of this game. One of the main baddies we do get to meet actually has a cool character design; you know, much like a Nights villain with tentacles. That's pretty much where all of the praise comes to a close. Beyond that, it's so mediocre and off-putting because they gave us every single wrong idea. To their credit, they at least released a demo. That's a lot more than can be said about other certain games that have come out recently. 

So, Saturn fans, I'm sorry to say that this is not the game we were hoping for. It's highly unlikely that Nights Into Dreams will ever get a full sequel outside of that underwhelming Wii game. If this game includes awesome high flying episodes, that should have been the whole entire game or at least 80% of it. Balan Wonderworld could have been a contender for a nostalgic throwback of amazing proportions, but they decided not to go that route, for whatever reason. Be absolutely sure you play this demo if you have any interest in this game at all. It could be your cup of tea, as doubtful as that is. It's not completely devoid of fun, it's just lacking a great deal of it. Looks like Nights still remains king while this pauper is nothing more than the castle janitor. Decide for yourself, and don't forget to drink water.

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