Art of Balance (Wii U) Review

By Adam Riley 02.11.2014

Review for Art of Balance on Wii U

Cubed3 has somewhat of a massive crush on the team at Shin'en Multimedia, the German outfit behind series such as Nanostray, Iridion, FAST, and Jett Rocket. Game after game, glowing review after glowing review, the small team can seemingly do no wrong. Hardcore space shooters and speedy racers aside, there is a casual element to some of its titles, such as the Art of Balance games, which have graced WiiWare and Nintendo 3DS eShop so far, and now comes smashing onto Wii U eShop. Should newcomers be enticed? How about those that played the previous two entries?

The aim of Art of Balance is to master the art…of…balance. Yeah, it pretty much describes itself right there in the title, with players being faced will all manner of settings and scenarios, ultimately needing to use all the random shapes provided per stage to form a tower that stands solid for three full seconds. Wow, how agonisingly long those seconds can be when working with some weird and wacky pieces that look extremely precarious once piled upon one another. There will, more often than not, be times where a 'magnificent' structure (likely cobbled together with no logic in some cases - hope for the best!) will have been constructed using everything at hand, the timer kicks in - first green light - and one piece starts to slide, causing the whole shebang to tilt ever so slightly - second green light - and just as the realistic physics engine looks to be letting gravity have the last laugh - third green light and safety. Breathe that long sigh of relief.

This is Art of Balance through and through; despite being filled with calming colours and accompanied by a serene soundtrack, this is deceptively intense and will cause all manner of curses to be uttered, Wii Remotes to be waggled in anger and GamePads to be tapped furiously due to…well, nobody's fault other than that of the person in control!

Wii Remotes, GamePads? Yes! Art of Balance takes the super-accurate IR pointer mechanic from the WiiWare edition, for those that have the steadiest of hands, and throws in the touch-based style of the 3DS eShop outing for good measure, levelling this Wii U iteration as a 'something for everyone' edition, or even a 'Director's Cut,' as such. This means that working through all eight worlds is a joy for all comers, and this time five people can play together (four Wii Remotes and a GamePad), working in teams to build quickly, or even against each other in a 'last man standing' style theme (set a piece in such a manner that the next person is destined to toppple the tower and fail!), and online matches galore are included for multiple players across the globe to have fun. There are even leaderboards so experts can aim to climb up to the top and become an Art of Balance champion.

Screenshot for Art of Balance on Wii U

Levels are jam-packed with flaming shapes that explode when two touch, timer blocks that countdown and eventually disappear when a new piece is placed atop of them, weight-restricted ones that can hold no more than three other regulars before smashing, and…much more. The highlight, though, has to be the gravity-swappers, causing all sorts of confusion at first, but proving to be a masterful inclusion. These feature platforms at both the top and bottom of the screen, and careful thought must be given to how everything is aligned before bringing one of them into play. What balances nicely as it is may well be as sturdy as jelly when flipped upside down, so forward planning needs to be brought in, sometimes using the gravity block as early as possible and then building from the top downwards instead (turning the GamePad helps 'cheat' slightly!).

Thinking ahead is especially important when dealing with non-static platforms to balance on. Getting it right first time on a solid base is tricky enough as it is at times, but as confidence builds up, blocks will be thrown down with bravado. However, try being as gung-ho when a stage is floating on water, prone to tilting hither and thither when cast off balance, or even working on levels with moving parts that adjust dependant on how much weight is dropped onto a particular section, flicking back up as blocks are placed on other parts. More thought is definitely required! The amount of challenge never becomes unfair, thankfully, merely testing the resolve of those in the throes of the action. Shin'en certainly has the 'balance' right in that respect...

Breaking worlds into a mix of regular stages and special challenges (use all pieces in a set time, build a tower as high as possible, and so on) considerably reduces the chances of boredom kicking in, and the additional modes outside of the main one are extra icing on what is already a very delicious cake. Art of Balance is one of the most addictive titles on Wii U, both at retail and on eShop - a game that can be enjoyed by casual and hardcore gamers alike.

Screenshot for Art of Balance on Wii U

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

It will be hard for Shin'en to better this new Art of Balance, with its multitude of block styles, intriguing play arenas, choice of motion or stylus controls, local multiplayer co-operative and battle modes, online antics and leaderboards, as well as the extra modes that are just the icing on the cake, upping the game's quality in the value stakes. This Wii U eShop iteration is without doubt the ultimate version on offer, following the already mightily impressive WiiWare and 3DS eShop releases.

Developer

Shin'en Multimedia

Publisher

Shin'en

Genre

Puzzle

Players

5

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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