We always hoped to see the day that original ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ creators Yuji Naka and Naoto Ohshima would get back together on a brand new project… but we weren’t expecting to to happen at Square Enix! The Japanese RPG publisher has just announced a brand new 3D platformer called Balan Wonderworld, featuring colourful characters and whimsical gameplay that makes you feel like the original Sonic Team never left.
Originally announced via Xbox’s channel, and later unveiled on PlayStation’s Blog, Yuji Naka describes Balan Wonderworld as “set in the mysterious world of people’s hearts,” the titular ‘Wonderworld’. “In everyone’s hearts, there’s a mixture of positive emotions – happiness and joy – and negative emotions – restless fears and worry. When the balance between positive and negative emotions is destroyed, the door to Wonderworld will open,” Naka explains.
You play as protagonists Leo and Emma, two kids with issues and anxieties preventing them from feeling truly at ease with themselves. After meeting the top hat-wearing figure called Balan, they are welcomed into the land of Wonderworld, tasked with rescuing its inhabitants by use of various outfits, costumes and disguises.
It all sounds a bit like classic Sonic Team’s SEGA Saturn masterpiece, NiGHTS into Dreams, where two children also overcome real-world issues by entering a dreamworld. Unlike NiGHTS though, Balan Wonderworld plays like a traditional 3D platformer, using various power-ups to traverse around the many courses in the game.
Balan Wonderworld is heading to Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 and Steam in Spring 2021, with free next-gen upgrades planned. It’s truly great to see Naka-san and Ohshima-san work together again.
If you remember the old days of TSS, we used to cover a lot of Naka-era Sonic Team games besides Sonic. So you may also see us covering this unique looking game too, even though it is being published by Square Enix. So stay tuned to TSS for more on Balan Wonderworld… and let’s take a moment to think about just how crazy a year 2020 has been so far.