Art of Balance - First Impressions

posted 15 Feb 2010, 13:17 by Knuckles Sonic8
WiiWare | Puzzle | Shin'en Entertainment | 1-2 Players | 800 Nintendo Points

Shin'en's second WiiWare title is finally here and boy does it look fantastic! But how does it play? 

In each puzzle, players are given a series of coloured shapes in each puzzle and they must strategically place each of these shapes so that they can maintain their balance for a short period of time. You need to place the shapes on one or more platforms inside a basin filled with water. Once all shapes have been placed, the timer will start in the form of three green lights, displayed at the bottom of the screen. The timer goes at a steady pace and lasts about 5 seconds in length before the game lets you off with a victory. If at any point, one or more shapes fall into the water below, you'll have to start over.

The above scenario describes the game's central Arcade Mode, containing a total of (what seems to be) 124 puzzles spread across 4 different worlds. Once you enter a world, you're treated to a pleasant-looking room that contains a series of blocks in the middle of it, each representing a different puzzle. With each puzzle you successfully complete, you'll add a point to the tally on the bottom right. An exception to this rule is the final puzzle in each room, which will grant you three points, represented by a lime green block. In addition to the normal puzzles, there are challenges as well, represented by the orange blocks. The mission objectives differ from the standard gameplay ever so slightly, and they'll prove to be very tricky for the player to clear. If you complete them, you'll add two points to your overall tally, and, you'll be able to head along other branching paths, containing levels that you otherwise couldn't access.

At the start, only World A is available. To unlock Worlds B, C and D, you'll need to collect 20 points (each). Each world isn't just about changing up the scenery. You'll encounter new gameplay elements that help give the game even more variety. For example, in World 2, you'll be introduced to weight-sensitive shapes that will shatter when three other shapes are on top of it. It's by this time that you'll realize that the game will pick up in difficulty, and carry a stronger strategy focus than in the first batch of stages. 

The game comes packed with two modes: Arcade, and Versus. Arcade mode is the standard option of choice where you choose a world, then choose a level and try to beat it either by yourself or with a friend. Versus is a multiplayer option where 2 players can play 'Best of' matches in quantities of 5, 7 or 9. It does sound fun to race against someone so I'm pleased they added a competitive element to the game as well.

Art of Balance not only looks great, but it sounds great as well. With its jazzy overtones and calm-inducing melodies, there's much to be said about the overall theme of mellowness that the game evokes within players. In terms of appeal, the game definitely has that feeling of addictiveness where players don't want to put the game down. It's definitely well-designed in this respect, even aiming for a strong pick-up-and-play focus. 

If you feel like giving this one an impulse buy, I doubt you'd be disappointed. I'm pleased to say that families, especially, will see this as a worthwhile purchase. If you're still a little unsure about whether or not the game is right for you, stay tuned for our full review!