Despite its reputation as an RPG factory, Square Enix has dabbled in numerous other genres in the past, but Balan Wonderworld is one of the publisher’s biggest departures in recent memory. The brainchild of former Sonic producer Yuji Naka and his new team, Balan Company, Balan Wonderworld is a kaleidoscopic platformer rife with collectables. It’s a far cry from Square Enix’s traditional output, but there are glimmers of potential here–as well as some causes for concern.
We had a chance to play an early access version of the upcoming , which features four levels across three worlds and one early boss battle. Almost from the outset, faint traces of Naka’s previous series could be felt in Balan Wonderworld. As in Sonic, worlds are broken up into separate “acts,” and one of the game’s costumes even gives you the ability to unleash a Sonic-like mid-air lock-on attack.
Despite these initial similarities, however, Balan Wonderworld is by and large a more methodical sort of platformer, emphasizing exploration and item collection over the fast-paced, high-flying spectacle found in Sonic the Hedgehog. The game’s signature hook is its vast array of costumes. Each one you collect grants a different power; one costume, for instance, lets you perform a tornado jump that can destroy certain blocks and repel tornado attacks back at enemies, while another lets you float through the air and ride updrafts.