First Impressions: Art of Balance TOUCH! (3DS eShop)

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Art of Balance on WiiWare is one of the service's best puzzlers — the second highest-rated puzzler on Wii, according to Metacritic — so an enhanced, portable version for 3DS sounds like a winner. Surprise! It is.

Art of Balance TOUCH! follows the same format as previous Shin'en WiiWare-to-eShop transition Fun! Fun! Minigolf TOUCH!. It keeps the same stages and basic gameplay, but doubles the number of puzzles and introduces new block types and touch screen controls.

Anyone who's conquered the WiiWare version's first four worlds will be right at home with their introduction on 3DS — the puzzles are identical, and the new stylus controls work just as well as the Wii pointer. Blocks are displayed on the top screen and you pick up, move and drop them with the touch screen; it's instinctive and responsive, and arguably more precise than the Wii's pointer could ever manage.

Anyone who hasn't played the original might wonder what the game's all about, and it's simple: balance. You're given a number of blocks and have to stack them into a sturdy structure that stands for three seconds without falling into the water below. That's really it. Of course, blocks come in many shapes and sizes and it takes planning and a steady hand to succeed. Art of Balance TOUCH! also introduces several new block types that radically change the way you play, including one that reverses gravity and forces you to build a stack that's solid on the top and bottom.

If you've played and enjoyed Art of Balance on WiiWare there's no reason you won't get the same enjoyment from Art of Balance TOUCH! on 3DS. The same solid concept is here, bolstered by responsive controls and new twists.

Expect to see Art of Balance TOUCH! hit the eShop in the coming weeks.

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