Over the last few days Square Enix has been teasing a new unannounced game with the involvement of Sonic the Hedgehog creator Yuji Naka. That game, Balan Wonderworld, was revealed this morning during the XBox Series X Games Showcase.
The basic story: two children named Leo and Emma run across a peculiar man in a giant hat who calls himself Balan. He takes them to a crazy place called Wonderworld where their goal is “to restore happiness and balance the hearts and minds of all they encounter.” How do you do this? By trying on lots and lots of wild costumes, of course. Each one gives Leo and Emma new abilities.
The character designs, concept, and overall feel of Balan Wonderworld reminds us a lot of Nights Into Dreams, and, well, natch — Yuji Naka created that series too. Nights wasn’t really a platformer, however. In 1996 you could swing your arms and hit several. But in 2020, a barren gaming landscape bereft of wholesome 3D collectathons to run through, seeing shiny colorful worlds full of floating coins gives us a nice feeling.
Balan Wonderworld will serve as a launch point for Naka’s new development studio, BALAN COMPANY (the studio appears to be named after this game, using Balan’s hat as their logo). “BALAN COMPANY brings together talented video game developers, visual artists, and composers to tell the greatest stories and provide the ultimate platformer experiences,” they say. This project marks the first time in 20 years Naka is working with former Sonic Team colleague and character designer Naoto Ohshima.
Though this game was announced for XBox Series X, it’s actually coming to everything. If you have a Playstation 4, Nintendo Switch, XBox One or gaming PC, you can play Balan Wonderworld….when it’s released. We have a bit of a wait. The adventure begins Spring 2021.