Cubed3 Nintendo gaming, Wii and DS

Art of Balance (WiiWare) Review

Review for Art of Balance on WiiWare - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Any gaming enthusiast interested in consoles' supposed limits being surpassed would be hard-pressed to ignore Shin'en's efforts. A small German developer with a team number you could count on one hand, Shin'en have taken the graphical blueprints of the last two generations of Nintendo consoles, laughed at them, and blown away gamers with results no-one could have expected with that hardware in mind. A key example is Iridion 3D, a launch shooter for the Game Boy Advance that looked more like something the Nintendo 64 would cough out. Their first Nintendo DS game, Nanostray, impressed almost as equally; it could be given the accolade of being the first 'built for DS' game to show off what the system could throw around on those two screens. WiiWare's 40MB limit is no obstacle either, as Fun! Fun! Minigolf puts many Wii retail games to shame, and Jett Rocket looks set to rival even the mighty Super Mario Galaxy. In the meantime though, Shin'en have flexed some creative muscle to add a new puzzler to the service. Is Art of Balance lost in the crowd, or is it walking a tightrope above their heads?

You can guess the scenario and objective from Art of Balance's title alone. Using the Wii Remote's pointer, and the A button and D-pad to grab and rotate pieces, your objective is to balance out the various shapes given to you atop a platform in the middle of a water bowl. If all shapes are balanced, and they stay that way for three consecutive seconds, you pass. If any single piece hits the water, you will have to restart. It is a simple concept, but one that becomes fiendishly tricky later on, when you're introduced to shapes that can only hold a certain number of others, ones that run on a timer before they shatter, and many other conditions.

Thankfully, the controls work like a dream, and Shin'en have avoided the slightly gimmicky possibility of rotating the Remote to turn pieces. The D-pad makes for a precise and non-jittery substitute. Not only that, but the way the game slowly guides you into each new situation, whether it's something completely new or just a new rule, is extremely helpful. A calming female voice chips in with advice and allows you to try out each new part as it is encountered. In fact, sound in general, like most Shin'en games, is a particular highlight. Zany, yet serene, backing tracks are present for each world, and they are tunes that never become annoying, even when you need to retry a level for the umpteenth time.

Given Art of Balance's genre, it probably won't surprise you to learn that the game doesn't push visual boundaries. That isn't to say that it isn't a looker though, far from it. From each world's separate but fully realised themes like plant life and snowfall, to the bright, crisp and clear graphical output, it's clear that Shin'en's presentation skills shine through even in game types that don't necessarily rely wholly on them.

Screenshot for Art of Balance on WiiWare - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Arcade is where you'll be spending a great deal of your time with Art of Balance, as that is where the real challenge lies; four worlds of around 30 puzzle situations each. Each world houses a grid formation from which you choose which level you wish to try; beating one will unlock the next in line, though you'll probably spend a while on particular tricky ones just to carry on. Each grid is represented by a difficulty-denoting circle pattern that clears when you best it; either one, two, or even the dreaded three. These also act as a currency of sorts that open up new worlds upon collection of enough of them, which provides a useful incentive for that 'one more go' factor.

For Wii gamers with relations/friends/stalkers, Art of Balance does have two very notable features. Firstly, within the main Arcade mode, a second player can join in to help out player one if they get stuck in pretty much the same way as Super Mario Galaxy. Secondly, there is a dedicated split-screen Versus mode, that allows for two gamers to see who can build their balance totem first, in best-of three, five or seven matches. Needless to say, this mode gets hectic, and is a welcome complement to the regular single player endeavor. Once all the levels are eventually done and dusted, it acts as a life support machine for Art of Balance's longevity.

Art of Balance is a considerable choice for online buyers looking for a challenging mindbender. With its 100+ stages it will last any determined gamer a fair amount of time, all the while satisfying multiplayer demand.

Screenshot for Art of Balance on WiiWare - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Gameplay

Pinpoint control precision, backed by a solid concept. Trial and error may grate at times, but the calming music and quick loading make this far less frustrating.

Graphics

It does not push the envelope, but for a downloadable game it sure is dang pretty. Menus are clear, concise, and to the point - just what you need in a puzzler.

Sound

Voice work is excellent, and the backing tracks for each world both ease frustration and provide a thrilling score to enjoy.

Value

A high number of levels that will take a large chunk of your time to conquer, and a useful multiplayer mode for padding out extra hours, so players will get their points' worth here.

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

About this score
Rated 8 out of 10

Yet another solid addition to the growing roster of great WiiWare games, Art of Balance proves its makers' pedigree yet again, with a solid concept backed by great physics, sublime music and striking visuals. Multiplayer is slightly limited, but the regular mode will last you enough time to justify Art of Balance as a serious contender for your Wii Points.

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20.04.2010

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Developer

Shin'en Multimedia

Publisher

Shin'en

Genre

Puzzle

Players

2

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

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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Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Simply fantastic game - one of my favourites on WiiWare so far Smilie Managed to complete everything other than two puzzles on the last world.

Everything Shin'en touches seems to turn to gold. Can't wait for Jett Rocket next!

( Edited 08.04.2013 00:30 by Guest )

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter
Krong (guest) 21.04.2010 17:59#2

Really one of the best WiiWare games, if not the best in terms of fun. Even the look and sound is very very good.

( Edited 08.04.2013 00:30 by Guest )

I tried finding a price in the review, but I didn't see any... How much points does it cost?

( Edited 08.04.2013 00:30 by Guest )

I'm on a "puzzle game" break for the next month or two since I've been playing A LOT of them on DSiware and Wiiware but I'll give it a try later in the year.

( Edited 08.04.2013 00:30 by Guest )

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Canyarion said:
I tried finding a price in the review, but I didn't see any... How much points does it cost?

800 Points Smilie

( Edited 08.04.2013 00:30 by Guest )

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Have many people decided whether or not to buy this yet? Unfortunately I heard it's not doing anywhere near as well as Fun! Fun! Minigolf did, and now Jett Rocket is getting all the attention, leaving poor Art of Balance to flounder Smilie

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

I want it, just need to buy some Wii points.

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

If you like the look of it from the various videos and screens, plus what you've read in Shane's review, then get buying asap Smilie

I've noticed several other sites have actually been giving it 9/10 as well, so it's receiving quite a lot of praise from all sources Smilie

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

Yeah it looked great from the first trailer I saw. Will definitely buy, don't worry. Smilie

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Ah good, I can sleep easy knowing that now Smilie

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

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