“Balan Wonderworld” appeared on store shelves on March 26th, sales figures came in, and were even worse than expected. In its first week, it sold less than 2,100 copies in Japan, skipping the top 30. It also didn’t make the top 30 on the Nintendo eShop in Japan or North America.
If this statistic seems to be selected, the sad reality is not so: “Balan Wonderworld” exudes Japanese charm; enjoys extensive coverage of Famitsu, Japan’s most read video game magazine; and many of the weirdest bestselling games like this on the Nintendo Switch.
While I am writing critical review of his public demo in February, I never anticipated “Balan Wonderworld” would fail so dramatically. Based on its sloppy and old-fashioned gameplay, I knew it wouldn’t reach a high review score.
But I think the marketing push is enough to sell a large number of units before the public knows about it. I should have known – historically, public demos have ruined sales for even that good game. Pair it with a $ 60 price tag, and you’ll have a recipe for disaster.
I’m expecting a huge price cut in the near future of this game, but there were times when “Balan Wonderworld” might enjoy more success – particularly in the late 1990s or early 00s when information didn’t spread. enough so fast and the mascot platformer is still popular.
If you’ve ever played video games, you’ve probably played what’s been called a mascot platformer whether you know it or not. All it takes is a memorable and unique main character with an interest in jumping over obstacles.
“Super Mario”, “Sonic the Hedgehog”, and “Crash Bandicoot” are the most famous of the bunch, and there was a time when dozens of copycats tried to take advantage of the phenomenon.
More recent attempts to take part of that market include “Super Luck Story,” “Yooka-Laylee,” and, yes, “Balan’s Wonder World.” The previous example was not like “Balan Wonderworld”, but also not a breakaway success story.
The sad fact is that 20 years after the mascot platformer subgenre ceases to be an exaggerated mess – looking at You, “Bubsy” and “Gex” – there is still no room for competition. The mascots are iconic, practically making more money on merchandise than games.
Sonic is everywhere, gracing T-shirts at every Target and Walmart around the country. “Balan Wonderworld” didn’t just compete to become a game worth the time folks. It also competes with some truly iconic characters who haven’t left the limelight for decades.
This is especially evident when you consider the rather triumphant return of “Crash Bandicoot” and “Spyro the Dragon”, two franchises that struggled for years before returning to their origins and then selling tons of games and merchandise.
The two characters may have fallen out of favor for a while, but the two have had no trouble coming back because of their memorable designs. The orange pouch and little purple dragon never really left the public’s consciousness.
Crash and Spyro are hilarious, man want to like them even though they have lots of terrible video games. “Balan Wonderworld” took the lead – Square Enix forgot to publish some great games to get people hooked on their new IPs before letting the quality degrade and letting the merchandise make some money.
I’m kidding, but only for the most part. I’m a huge Sonic fan, and even I can admit the quality of those games over the last 15 years has been very unsatisfactory. I’m just a games journalist, but if I could give a developer advice, it would be this: If you’re going to design a platformer, focus on the gameplay first.
You won’t sell copies with quirky characters because you’re competing against the likes of Mario and Sonic, icons from over three decades who refuse to die. Instead, create perfectly controlled games like “Celeste,” “Shovel Knight” or “Super Meat Boy,” and success will come your way.
Players are still hungry for such games, but the quality standards are much higher nowadays. Though stylish, “Balan Wonderworld” strikes a mile off with an uninspired game design and lackluster controls.
Riordan Zentler can be reached at [email protected]
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