Format reviewed: Wii U eShop
Other formats available: Wii eShop, 3DS eShop
Website: Official Page
This is the third Art of Balance, Shin’en have been slowly evolving the series since the Wii eShop debut and this is another small but worthwhile development of that, combining Wii’s remote controls with the 3DS' touch controls and offering more levels, more modes and some great online bonuses.
The game is, quite predictably, a puzzler which sees you tasked with balancing increasingly difficult shape combinations, it plays like a reverse Jenga, create various constructions on small platforms sitting on water in the hope it doesn’t come crumbling down. The game features 200 levels with a really nice build in difficulty, it’s a perfect, calming puzzler to compliment Pullblox, Toki Tori 2 and the many other fantastic puzzlers on the system. This is definitely one of the better ones though. It looks gorgeous, with serene backdrops of greenery and the tranquil water, combined with the peaceful music it never gets anger-inducing, even when the game ramps up its difficulty, it’s just too relaxing, and all the better for it. It also looks great on the TV, especially with its 60FPS, but if you’re using the gamepad’s touch controls (and in our opinions you should) you’re only going to be staring at the gamepad, so if you play off-tv a lot, this is a great choice for busy TV’s.
But we don’t play puzzlers for how nice they look, it’s all about how it plays and does it keep you coming back for more. Rather than going for high-scores (the game does have online leaderboards, they didn’t do anything for us), the game is more about completing levels, solving little puzzles and moving on, and it plays perfectly. The physics have always been great, and this is the best yet - helped by the aforementioned frame-rate; only on the odd occasion did I wonder whether they would actually fall in that way - though probably more heightened by my disappointment that I failed. The game also does a great job of spicing up the core mechanic just enough. Even in the first batch of levels you get challenge levels, which continue throughout. These range from reaching a certain height, timed challenges and the like; they also throw in different kinds of pieces - from explosive pieces, to pieces that can only take a certain weight; even switching up the gravity on levels which requires a new way of thinking; it all adds up to an incredibly accomplished, and surprisingly varied, puzzler.
But there is more, up to 5 people can play through the game - locally and online (Nintendo could learn a thing or two here), and there are two multiplayer specific modes, both are great. Tower Tumble is like Buckaroo, each player adds a piece until one person causes it to come tumbling down, giving everyone else a point; and Swift Stacker pits two teams to race against each other on the puzzles. Really good modes, but the game is so skilful, it’s not the most competitive of games when you have a range of different experiences playing, but ultimately they’re fantastic additions.
So it all adds up to be a great package; if you don’t like puzzlers it’s not going to convert you, and if you’ve already played though the Wii and 3DS versions then it’s possibly not a must have game; but on its own, it’s an excellent puzzler, a big package and still a worthwhile consideration if you do have one of the other versions. But then you’ll already know how amazing the game is.
Review by Darren Bolton for Nintendo: Review