Balan Wonderworld's free demo has landed on the Switch eShop, and after a bit of hesitant excitement for the game, we were keen to get our hands on this freebie to see what Yuji Naka's been cooking up. Unfortunately we don't come bearing a glowing recommendation from what this demo has to offer.
After spending quite a bit of time with the game, both Alex and Jon have come to a similar feeling of disappointment with what's on show. There's always the possibility that the final product will exceed the expectation that the demo has set, but only time will tell.
Make sure you give the video above a glance and let us know if you've tried out the demo in the comments below.
Never looked good in the first place, so can't say I'm surprised. Shame though, all anyone wants is nice games.
It always looked dumpy, unfortunately.
But seriously, dammit, I was really looking forward to this.
Tbh it does seem like a game living off the hit game memory fumes from the 90s. I will give it a try and find out once it's finished downloading.
Yeah. Being a throwback is "fine" if it works, but to me it never looked even remotely appealing in the first place. Have not tried the demo. Almost certainly will not.
I was looking forward to it as it was a nostalgia hit but then again, who really wants to pay full price for a mascot platformer that doesn’t fix all those annoyances we had back in the day? At the same time though, I definitely want a Billy Hatcher remaster as I revisit that on occasion on my Cube.
I think the biggest issue with the game is the speed of the character. It honestly reminds me of kingdom hearts 1's movement.
The character themselves look like they are running faster than what they are (which is slow). Then somehow jumping limits all sense of momentum. I couldn't stand Lucky's Tale because of the lack of speed, I'm not making that mistake again.
I think the game does have its own cheesy charm to it and artistically and thematically the game seems interesting enough, and I think the CGI and (from what little I heard) the soundtrack was fine.
The gameplay seems like pretty standard fare collectathon stuff from the N64/PS1 era, remind me a lot of Spyro in particular. I guess I could get some enjoyment out of it if they at least increase the difficulty a little bit towards the end but it's definitely not a game I would pay full price for.
The Switch version which I tried also ran like complete trash unfortunately, Unstable sub 30 framerates and really grainy graphics do no justice to the artstyle. I think If I ever get it, it's through steam when its like 15 bucks or something.
I played it on PS4.All I can say is 10 minutes was enough.Colourful but with no personality.A very big dissapointment.
I don’t have any prior knowledge of this game. The intro was great, but then the game started and I deleted it. Grainy character and graphics ☹️
So basically it's as janky as it appeared to be in the trailers. No big surprise there.
I guess you could call it “Banal” Wonderland, eh 😏
Seriously though I was hoping this would be the AAA version of Hat in Time, sadly it doesn't seem to be the case.
Worth getting other opinions on it rather than treating this as the gospel, do that and it appears rather more mixed.
Destructoid are very positive about it and I trust them more than any other site.
Not gonna get the Switch version because it's gonna be the worst way to play it.
I like the demo. By that I mean, I can see a lot of potential. I hope they can fix the obvious issues like the running speed and the overly simplified costumes. Even if they delay it. Please delay it.
That's a shame. It looked interesting. Ah well.
Or just, you know, play the demo.
It’s not even close in enjoyment to Spyro 1...not even close 😟
And this is from seasoned developers and publisher, not some Woodle Tree indie game...what happened?
I’m a sucker for N64/GameCube-era platformers and thought it might appeal to me...but wow that gameplay looks stiff. I’ll still see what the reviews say, but I’ve definitely lost a lot of interest.
Too bad, I had my eye on it.
Talking about it feeling like a sonic team game gave me flashes to when everyone was excited about might number no.9 because it was "Megaman's creator freed from Capcom" and its just awful and we're left to question just how much the creator actually did on the old games.
Damn would had made for a good N64 style 3D platformer but never thought it would had this many problems. I feel like sometime Yuji Naka went too far with some of his gameplay choices. Sad too cause I really enjoy Rodea the Sky Soldier on Wii and Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg on GameCube.
Graphically it looks like it sits somewhere between PS2 & PS3. Art style looks forgettable and gameplay looks boring. Nothing grabs me about this game. I think it will tank hard.
Real talk: Did Yuji Naka ever really have his touch to begin with? Because it seems like everything he's been involved in is mediocre to terrible. I was hoping this might be good, but I wasn't holding my breath considering his track record. And it's not. Nearly everyone to come out of SEGA (except for maybe the 90's and the Colors/Generations team) has been incompetent. It's a shame because a lot of time they have good ideas, but the execution is terrible.
Honestly have to agree, it's a pretty dissapointing demo.
The ideas are there, there's a lot of potential for a very fun game, but the switch version is unplayable and even the technically playable PS4 version still suffer for a lack of 'something' in the game design.
A true shame, I really got high hopes for this game since Naka was involved and Rodea (Wii) was surprisingly fun, but it feels like something went wrong during Balan's production and maybe even in an early design stage...
We finally get something from them not named "Sonic" and it's...this. Sega definitely has fallen a LONG way from its onetime role as one of the pillars of the industry. When even a project from Naka looks this phoned-in, it feels like we're watching the last gasps of a dying publisher.
@tanaka2687 I don't play demos in general, don't want to dampen my excitement for a game by experiencing some of it myself before hand, want to go in as blind as possible in terms of actually playing.
That method hasn't done me wrong yet.
Previews work for me as most of the time it's just a video, images or text, a completely different experience to actually playing.
The fact that they named a whole studio after this game should tell you all you need to know about how out of touch they are with their own product.
Surely if you're making a flagpole title you don't want it to be this unfocused and janky, right? 😅
This isn't from Sega, it's a Square Enix title. Yuji Naka hasn't worked with Sega since 2006.
I was really looking forwerd to it MAN, And I wont lie it did look janky in the trailer but I thought all the other things in the game could overshadow it. i did look at the game on other consoles it looks better. but thats all it got going for it. OMG the switch looks like crap and has huge lag spiks.
This was miserable to play. My Xbox kept freezing. The gameplay is horrid.
The cutscenes are the only good thing about it. Avoiding this like the plague. I wouldn't play it for free
I hope Kingdom of Amalur and Monster Hunter Rise fair better on release.
This is just sad.
I think it's right for this to be berated, especially as most people's first play if it here is unsurprisingly on the switch.
It performs awfully, the off putting adaptive resolution, the consistent stutters, the graphics looking even worse due to the poor frame rate. The movement being clunky and sluggish, the lack of remote guidance (while sure it's fairly obvious) it made me feel theres no real reason to play the game, no reason to what collect gems and statues?
This is awful tbh, needs to be delayed and overhauled. Which is a shame.
On the positive, at least they didn't lie about the gameplay on the reveal
Sonic 1- S&K
Samba de Amiigo
Sonic Adventure 1-2
Sonic Advance 1-3
The above would all suggest he did have the touch, admittedly though his output since those days has been patchy at best which is a shame.
Balan is Banal...but no seriously there's something up with the game. It's janky.
The movement is slow, there's no momentum. If you jump while running you clear as much distance as if you were running which isn't very far as the kid basically jumps up double their height but barely an inch forward . Certain game mechanics like the Kangaroo Flutter jump holds you in place and removes your speed a few frames before you fall regularly.
Swapping costumes takes ~2 seconds and can't be done while moving or jumping meaning there's no seamless transformation or synergy between the different forms. They're basically like a lock and key with the games "puzzles"(which are basic jumps or blocks you just break)..
The level design is barebones. The NPCs fadeout as you go near so there's no dialogue. The collectables are just dotted around the levels and don't have any scripted challenges the way Mario, Banjo, Spyro,etc. have. Leaving the levels being a bizarre combination of aimless wandering...while also being linear rather than sandbox. Like you feel more like you stumble across the ending of the level than reaching it as a goal.
It's an undercooked experience and it feels more like a Beta than a full game.
@abe_hikura Inafune was the co-creator of Mega Man. His contribution to its creation was mainly the character designs so, when speaking solely in terms of hands-on game development, he didn't actually do a whole lot for the first game.
Still no demo today in the USA shop?!
Man, that's a real shame. I remember myself actually being excited about this back when it was revealed, but seeing it in this state, I don't know how I didn't notice these things when it was first shown off.
I would echo what others are saying about the fact that this should be delayed. I just don't know how willing Square would be to do that. A shame too- this game deserves better.
The guys at Push Square weren’t too high on this game either. I’ll try out the demo for myself but I’m not too excited for this game.
I wonder how much these problems come from it being on Switch
I played about 30 minutes of it this morning. It was not good. The platforming is very clunky and framerate is...sigh. I agree that the music is good and the CG cutscenes have good production values. It reminds of a mediocre PS2 gen platformer.
Was there really any doubt that this game wouldn't live up to whatever trepidatious "hype" people had for it??? This game that looks like Carnival games decided to try and put a story in it's nonsensical game world, has held no interest to me, but as I always say... If you enjoy this type of game, I hope that you have fun with it!
I'm really looking forward to this game, so I hope they can clear things up before launch.
This game really needs to be delayed now if it's to be successful. The fact that it had the same release date as MH Rise wasn't a good start, and now the demo is (apparently) not that good. 🤔
Even a delay to June should iron out the issues, and have more breathing room between Balan Wonderworld and the other big titles releasing in the next two months. 🤔
My wallet breathes a sigh of relief...
One thing Nintendo needs to address is that games like this and Calico, etc. are showing up in Nintendo Directs. These games are not good. There are other examples as well. Nintendo needs to screen these games better or else people will no longer trust Directs as a curated experience. If you are going to show us bad games, you might as well not have them.
@Juga It's a video game, not a war zone
I played the demo and it was just kinda ok. Hope that some things can get fixed up for the final release like the frame rate
I played the demo and couldn't believe Square Enix and Yuji Naka would put out something so bad and shovelware-like. Yuji Naka really fell off, wow. It's embarrassing for him.
It felt like one of those random £5 eShop games like Macbat 64. Why do all the characters vanish when you walk to them? Is it just for the demo? Bizarre. And they think people will pay £49.99 for it?!
@Morph Remove Sonic Adventure 1 & 2 from that list. Those games, much like this one, didn't really have a solid sense of identity because of the constant shift between wildly different gameplay styles. It's not as buggy as this, but all of the same design issues from this game are present in the Adventure games. I'm not familiar with all of those games mind you, but it certainly seems that he has no idea how to make a good 3D platformer.
Sounds like the gameplay disappointed so much that every little detail is bad now, such as quick time events, that would probably be just fine if main gameplay worked as it should.
@Bolt_Strike Sonic Adventure 1 and 2 didn't have a "constant shift" between wildly different playstyles at all. The gameplay style only changed if you played through it with a different character. Are you sure you're not getting mixed up with Sonic Heroes...?
@Bolt_Strike for its time Sonic Adventure was a very good game, it perhaps hasn't stood the test of time as well as other 3d platformers but at the time of its release for the Dreamcast it was a system seller.
Sonic Adventure 2 Battle for Gamecube in many ways was even better as it stripped out some of the additional faff.
Both deserve their place in a list of Naka's great games.
@Bolt_Strike I agree. He's often cited as the father of Sonic, but let's not forget that was 30 years ago. Nights is highly praised but honestly I don't see the appeal. His last project to get a reasonable amount of press was Rodea the Sky Soldier and that was a mediocre game that felt very janky to control. His best output in the past 20 years IMO has been Billy Hatcher, which is an overlooked gem on the Gamecube.
I wasn't interested in Balan because it looked like more of the same. I'll try the demo out of curiosity, but if the demo wasn't available I'd probably pass altogether.
I really hope the game gets delayed, so they address those technical issues. I wouldn´t mind playing it at the end of the year if that involves getting to play a well made game.
This needs more time in the oven. So, do disappointed... I was really looking forward to it, too.
Ah well. I'll download the STEAM demo just for a laugh, but I doubt I'll jump in until there's at least a 75% discount somewhere down along the line... maybe not even then.
My initial thought to this article title was “wow, they’re being uncharacteristically harsh”. Then I watched the video and... it looks like a generously positive headline. What a disappointment.
@Clyde_Radcliffe @Morph The different characters are the problem, they shouldn't feel like they belong in an entirely different game because then it's not fun unless you like a wide variety of genres and the gameplay isn't polished. If the premise of the game is meant to be about a speedy hedgehog who can zoom through levels with momentum based platforming, then the other characters should fit that premise as well and complement Sonic's abilities, not serve as random filler that have little to do with what Sonic is about in the first place. That's not good game design. The Adventure games are pretty much another example of popular =/= good, right along with the likes of Pokemon, NSMB, and F2P mobile games.
@Bolt_Strike you could argue that of Sonic Adventure 2 perhaps, although I found the different platforming elements provided by the different characters interesting. However, the same argument doesn't apply to Sonic Adventure 1, the chao garden was an okay side quest but that was really the only diversion.
Played the demo.
It was about as enjoyable as driving from Cornwall to Edinburgh with no pit stops and award winning haemorrhoids.
Is it really necessary to almost always mention a demo being "free"?
Where are all of these paid demos that I have heard nothing about?
Just played the demo myself, and yikes. It is not good.
@Silly_G Same question whenever a free update is mentionned. As if anyone would pay for a patch. I think it's because the world is mad and every little thing works with microtransactions
No surprises there, it looks rubbish.
That's sad, was looking forward to it...
I don't call it Bland wonderworld for nothing. The trailer immediately put me off.
@Morph No, that's true with SA1 too, although it's not as bad. Knuckles and Big's playstyles both feel completely out of place in a Sonic game, and Amy stand to have a faster running speed.
@Expa0 Just played the demo. I'm sorry but you just can't compare this mess to Spyro. I didn't bother with Spyro back in the day, but earlier last year I took the plunge and bought the original PS1 trilogy on PS3 from the PSN store. So far I've only played 1 & 2, but I have give credit where credit is due and give high praise to Spyro 2 in particular. For a game released over 20 years ago, it played extremely well and had bags of charm to match. This demo for Balan on the other hand... meh!!! I would sooner play a well made old school 3d platformer over this.
What a mess, it’s probably beyond saving at this point.
The world kinda reminds me of the PS game Pandemonium but in a 3d world. The gameplay (as per the video ) feels like Mario64 (or Yooka Laylee), harkens back to the N64 era.
I had hope Yuki Naka would make this game more akin to NiGhts, and it's smooth flying stages than another Mario 64 clone.
Let's hope the final product is better. Kinda like Rodea, with promise, but lacks polish...
You guys know that this is a demo, right?
@abe_hikura The creator still needs a talented team and needs to be able to lead that team. You’d think this being a Square game Naka would have gotten a good enough team. And maybe he did..
Wait at the 17:15 mark it feature a form that says Aero Acrobat. Is that a reference to Aero the Acro-Bat?
This game is just terrible all around. I know its just a demo but it seems like it will be one of the worst games for switch.
Played the first (only?) level, got half the trophies, did the QTE mini game, realized I could drop ChuChus or whatever the birds are called into the ... roulette wheel to make the counter go up. Managed to get 5 into the reel, still moved super slow. Several Minutes just to get the counter to 60. Triggered a cutscene that I started some that might lead to the first tower lever getting unlocked, but having to continually lead the birds back seemed less fun than the sonic adventure VMU games.
Maybe had they scaled all the requirements down a lot, but only unlocked the first floor or two of the tower I might’ve given it more than 20 minutes. As is, I don’t see this demo “slice” growing into anything that might include a patch that add the fun.
To be honest, the trailer looked kinda dog, so my expectations were low, even though I love 3D platforms and I liked NiGHTS.
@TheBeastFromTheEast and you know a demo is supposed to give you an impression of the final product right?
Damn...that's unfortunate. Was hoping this was the NiGHTS spiritual successor we've been waiting for...damn shame
It is awful.
Janky, slow movement.
@Snow-Dust not always. It is merely a demonstration how the game could be. There is still time in development to change it and polish, yet it seems like people here think that this is the final game.
It's coming out in two months, that's not enough time to save fundamentally bad gameplay, graphics, etc.
Maybe if it had an extra year of development ahead of it then they might be able to fix it.
Something is definitely up.
Doesn't seem to be advertised on my eShop at all.
Not sure Nintendo are confident about it.
Didn’t. Look. Good. To begin with.
It looks far better than Hat In Time, even in it's current state.
@Toy_Link You're right, my mistake. Still, seeing such questionable quality from Square is concerning in its own right.
Yeah, how foolish of us to expect a demo of a game coming out in 2 months to be representative of the quality of the product.
@Toy_Link oh, you can do a lot in two months. But then again, I liked the demo so far and I can understand if people dislike it. Still, much can happen.
@TijuanaTacoToker looks like I'm still optimistic about this and two months is not a short time.
Downloaded the demo yesterday morning, but may delete it without playing. I am not even motivated to try. Big shame.
I opted to download this on my PS5 and it’s a really fun demo there.
The controls are tight and the gameplay is very similar in spirit to Mario Odyssey, or even a distant Kid Chameleon (since there’s like 80 costumes in the full release).
Exploring the colorful world was relaxing (not too many enemies so far) and bosses felt very Sonic like, and weren’t pushovers either.
Cutscenes are pretty and the music is well done. I actually thought the “rolling” effect of the background elements was a clever visual trick to hide the loading, but I guess it’s disorienting to some here.
The little chubby bunny-chick animals you babysit are really cute too.
In short, I’m sold! But I’ll be getting it on PS5.
The minigame to earn bonus gems is pretty repetitive though, but you need those gems to use the animals to unlock more of their tower. Yeah it’s weird in that “Chao” sort of way.
Definitely feels like a Naka game; the clown mentor figure would’ve totally fit in “Nights”; the playable characters are cute but much more generic. They totally do scream of Sonic proportions and running style, though. And the constantly dancing, disappearing NPCs gives the whole thing a very dream like quality.
Too bad, I miss the old days of good 3D platformers. Here is another upcoming 3D platformer I'm excited for:
Youtubers, you found your new darling make fun of game. When it releases it'll be a field day.
Actually, the game is quite good, just 2 console-generations too late. Has that crazy nonsensical Nights 1/2 vibe, which is good. Definitly better than Billy Hatcher
You’d be kidding yourself if you it looked like a good game when they first showed it off.
The worst thing I ever played... Gameplay wise there is literally nothing good about it
Balan wonderworld? More like Bollocks wonderworld! Slow, boring gameplay, very stiff controls, weak graphics (seriously, we all expected a downgrade. But this much?!). The creatures can dance all they want, but that doesn't make it wonderful all of a sudden. Mister Naka can retire now. In fact most old developers who are making a comeback are letting down:
Yooka laylee, fun but no Banjo Kazooie
The only one that seems to be good from what I have heard is Bloodstained.
Dont mind me. I'm just here snacking on popcorn for the arguments in this comments section. I didn't bring any salt but I don't think I should have any problem getting that here.
Hmm - I have to say, I felt the same when I first played the demo - it's a very odd throwback to how these sorts of games were made in the early 2000's, recalling Billy Hatcher, Sonic Heroes and the on-foot sections of NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams. The Switch port is clearly vastly inferior too, but it's a dated game in its DNA. THAT SAID - if you like this sort of thing and can forgive its technical shortcomings, there is an engrossing little game in there. I played the four levels through to completion, revisiting each to find hidden statues and by the end had acclimatised to its languid pace, incoherent art style and dated mechanics. I'd recommend picking it up on more powerful hardware, but you might have fun with this, if you know exactly what you're in for...
I honestly thought it was pretty fun. Nothing groundbreaking, but it really nailed the feel of an old 90s 3D platformer to me.
I played the demo last night. Yeah, a bit rough but i have a soft spot for B grade old-school platformers. So i thought it was ok. Then i went and checked the pre-order price. $90AUD(!) which is way more than most other games on the eShop. So errr, i'll pass.
Yeah i was looking forward to this because the trailer look amazing and art style wow but playing the demo on my Nintendo switch it was horrible the character movement is very slow and npc not talking or interacting yup bad is well and the quick time event its buggy as hell.
This made me cancel my preorder for game
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