TreeFall Studios has had a rocky experience on the Wii U. The Letter, which is one of our worst-rated titles, was followed up by Maze, which was poorly received but at least contained some semblance of functional gameplay. Its latest title, Journey of a Special Average Balloon, continues to show TreeFall's growth and learning - but that doesn't make it a good game or worthwhile purchase.
In Journey of a Special Average Balloon, players control the titular balloon across worlds made up of three single-screen stages in order to collect three coins, a rainbow shard, and occasionally a treasure chest. The balloon can't do anything except move at a slow, deliberate pace; as the player moves the balloon, pattern-based obstacles will cross the screen. It takes but one hit for the balloon to pop and for you to have to start the stage over.
Each world has a challenge to complete that unlocks trophies and new skins for the balloon. Curiously, several of the challenges involve simply playing through a world in a certain balloon skin; if those skins gave the balloon any attributes or alterations that would make for more challenging gameplay, but we certainly didn't notice any changes. The other game mechanic is the slingshot gallery, a pointless minigame that pops up every few worlds where the player has to pop as many balloons as they can...for no real purpose.
For a game that tasks players with restoring a magical rainbow, Journey of a Special Average Balloon is visually very disappointing. With basic graphics that resemble early '90s clipart and the same enemies and obstacles appearing over and over again, there's little to look at here. The balloon's extra skins are nothing special, nor are the backgrounds, which look hastily thrown together and dull (but not in an intentional way). The less said about the generic music the better.
Reviewing games like Journey of a Special Average Balloon is a challenge for us. Projects like these never used to release on Nintendo systems, and the floodgates really have opened with the big N embracing developers of every level. This game is perfectly functional and harmless, but that's not enough to give it a recommendation, especially when there are Flash games with more depth.