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Our examiner, Andy Robertson, first checked Balan Wonderworld 3 years ago. It was re-examined by Jo Robertson and updated 3 months ago.
Play involves exploring elaborate stages and switching between costumes to access different actions with the single-button controls. There are 80 different costumes that can be collected, each has a different ability and attack style. The costumes interplay with the puzzles in each of the levels, providing abilities to help you progress. Not only that, but the varied abilities encourage experimentation and often result in discovering ways to access parts of levels sooner than the game design expects.
It's a simple approach, reminiscent of character switching in Skylanders, although some have found it too limiting. For younger players and those looking for a light and breezy game, Balan Wonderworld excels. On your own or with another player, you steadily work through each of the 12 worlds, resolving hardships in each one with a heartfelt cutscene.
The platforming action is spiced up with a load of mini-games and challenges. From rolling boulders to playing soccer and bowling there is a lot to do in addition to the main game. You can also revisit completed levels to hunt down any remaining statues (and don't have to complete the levels to save the items you find). Then there are the little helper Tim characters who you can collect and breed to help you by attacking enemies, finding items and destroying spikes.
The result is a simplistic and saccharine platform game, a lighthearted escape to another world. The simplicity resulted in negative reviews but is a real boon to families and those looking for an unusual and puzzle-focused challenge.
You can play this game in the following styles:
6+ year-olds usually have the required skill to enjoy this game. Although this is a relatively complex 3D platform game, there are minimal penalties for failure. This is particularly true if you play with an older or more experienced player. Being inquisitive is a benefit as this lets you discover new routes through levels. The way that abilities are tied to outfits also makes the game more approachable for younger players.
Release Date: 26/03/2021
Out Now: PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S
Content Rating: PEGI 7
Skill Rating: 6+ year-olds
Accessibility: 16 features
Components: 3D Third-Person and Hand-Made
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