Everything we know about the brilliant but bonkers Balan Wonderworld
Time to get lost in what looks like a kooky carnival.
Sega doesn't seem to be in any great hurry to announce a brand-new Sonic the Hedgehog game for next-gen consoles, but the man behind the legendary platforming franchise, Yuji Naka, has a new game coming to both current and next-generation consoles with the help of Square Enix. During Geoff Keighley's pre-show for the Xbox Games Presentation on July 23, Balan Wonderworld was revealed with an extensive trailer.
The announcement included gameplay footage and some brief commentary from the developers on the adorable, theatrical-looking action game. If you're still wrapping your head around what Balan Wonderworld is like after that wacky reveal trailer, we've rounded up everything you need to know about the game here.
When is the release date for Balan Wonderworld?
The initial trailer and press release for Balan Wonderworld's announcement confirms that the game will be released in "Spring 2021," so expect it sometime between March and June of 2021 barring any delays.
Is there a trailer for Balan Wonderworld?
Yes, the reveal trailer for Balan Wonderworld was shown towards the end of Geoff Keighley's Xbox Games Showcase pre-show. Titled "A Spectacular Preview," this trailer gives us a first look at cinematics and gameplay for the new game.
What consoles will Balan Wonderworld be released for?
While a reveal during an Xbox Games Presentation pre-show may lead you to believe that Balan Wonderworld is an Xbox-exclusive game, that is not the case. The official press release for the game from Square Enix confirms that it will be released for Nintendo Switch, PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.
The only notable exception when it comes to platforms is Google Stadia, which Square Enix is supporting with games like Final Fantasy XV and Outriders but not much else. Still, anyone who's interested in Balan Wonderworld should be able to play it easily, no matter what platform they are on.
What will Balan Wonderworld gameplay be like?
Balan Wonderworld is an action-platformer that Yuji Naka describes as "the action game of action games." What that actually means is that Balan Wonderworld is a 3D platformer where players travel through shapeshifting environments. While you can run, jump, and fight like in any other 3D platformer, Balan Wonderworld's unique draw is that players will have over 80 costumes to choose from at any time, and each of them seems to have unique powers.
These will each have different abilities like letting the player "walk in the air, freeze time, and manipulate all kinds of objects." These can be switched between at any time, so part of Balan Wonderworld's challenge will be determining which powers are best for certain situations.
What is the story of Balan Wonderworld?
While Balan Wonderworld has a cute aesthetic, it actually deals with some pretty heavy themes. "Everyone has their worries and their struggles maintaining a balance of positive and negative emotions in their lives," developer Naoto Ohshima explained during the reveal livestream. "However, when that balance is broken, you might find yourself in the Balan Theatre."
Players control two kids named Leo and Emma as they "restore happiness and balance the hearts and minds of all they encounter" in the Balan Theatre with the help of a maestro named Balan, who the theatre and game are both named after. While the story is different than anything it's developers have done before, it still retains the trademark whimsy and charm you'd expect from a Yuji Naka game with Naoto Ohshima's art.
Who is developing Balan Wonderworld?
Balan Wonderworld is developed internally in Square Enix by a team led by Yuji Naka. He is best known for creating the Sonic the Hedgehog series for Sega, but he moved to Square Enix in January 2018 to work on Balan Wonderworld and start the larger Balan Company series brand for Square Enix.
The reveal also confirmed that Naoto Ohshima, who worked with Yuji Naka on both Sonic and Nights into Dreams, is collaborating with him once again on the character design. If you were a fan of Sonic Team pre-Sonic 06, then Balan Wonderworld and its team are recapturing some of that magic.
Balan Wonderworld will be released in spring 2021.