Art of Balance TOUCH!
Nintendo 3DS – eShop ($6.99)
Shin’en Multimedia is back with another digital title for the Nintendo 3DS. This time it’s an updated version of their WiiWare game, Art of Balance. Art of Balance TOUCH! is not just a port but an expansion as well. While the original had 100 puzzles to solve, this has a grand total of 200 for you to get your hands on. Is this another sure fire hit for Shin’en? If you are a puzzle fan, you will very much enjoy this game.
The main concept of the game is placing several objects on top of each other without them falling over into the water. This is pretty simple at first, but gradually gets more difficult as different shapes and unique power blocks are introduced to you over the course of 8 worlds. Each level has about 25 levels to it making up for a total of 200 different puzzles to solve. After solving each level, you will be assigned a certain amount of points. Most are one points, but there are several 2 point levels and one 3 point level at the end of each world. The number of points to gain tells you how difficult the level is. Though don’t let that fool you, some of the 1 point levels can be very challenging. Each 2 point level brings in an extra degree of challenge to them. For example, some require you to finish the level within a few seconds while others require you to stack all your blocks onto each other until a certain height is reached. After collecting enough points, you will start unlocking additional worlds. You don’t need to beat every level to unlock all 8 worlds, so don’t worry if you are having difficulty with one level.
As soon as you hit world 2, new block types and effects will be introduced to you. These help improve the challenge and keep it enjoyable at the same time. For example, some blocks will disappear after a second if anything is placed upon it, while another will explode if more than 2 objects are on top of it. One of the more fun and interesting levels are the ones that deal with the balance scale. Certain block foundation polls will rise and fall based upon how much weight is placed upon it or its counterpart. These are just part of the special block types and environments that the game throws at you.
As mentioned, to beat each level you have to place all the blocks without them tipping overboard into the water. After you place the last block, the game will tick down for three seconds. If none of your blocks fall into the water, you will have beaten the level. It should be mentioned that it just required it not falling into the water. So during those three seconds, if your blocks start to fall and are just slightly above the water when the last second is finished, it will still count. Though don’t count this too much in your advantage, as the blocks can still fall pretty quickly.
Just like its WiiWare counterpart, this game looks and sounds amazing. Shin’en has certainly gone out of their way to make another great looking 3DS game. The colors are presented in light and zen-like way, giving of a warm feeling to them. For those curious how the 3D effect is presented here, Shin’en has gone to great lengths to make sure this looks awesome and unique in 3D. One of the more interesting aspects about the 3D has to be that it goes for a depth and pop-out 3D effect at the same time. Most 3DS titles tend to just try one or the other. But this game, while having a good bit good depth to it, also does well to present part of the board as popping out. It almost feels like a sin to not play this game in 3D.
Not only does this game look great, but it also sounds great. The levels and menus give off an enjoyable background music. Since the look of the game gives off a zen look, it’s fitting that the music would also be zen and peaceful as well.
The game, while having great 3D effects and looking amazing, does sadly seem to be lacking some polish in some areas. The most obvious issue with this game’s look and feel deals with the water. If you have played or even seen the original WiiWare version, you will see the issue. But for those that are new to the series, the water effect has sadly been almost removed as it just is flat instead of being water-like. In fact, whenever an object interacts with the water, the effects seen more resembles jello then water. Just like jello, this “water” also tends to bounce up and down slightly all at once instead of creating waves from the drop point. This is a sadly unfortunate, as the original game had great water design to it.
Now despite of the lack of polish with the water, this is a very excellent game for any and all puzzle lovers. Art of Balance TOUCH! for its price is a steal, as this game will last you at least 12 hours just to beat all 200 levels. There is a lot of fun to have here with this enjoyable 3D puzzle game. If your up for a challenge, this game is certainly for you.