A review by Jeremy Hardin
Developer/Publisher – Shin’en Multimedia
Version – eShop
Time Spent Playing – 5 hours
Price – $6.99
Obtained – Review Copy courtesy of Shin’en Multimedia
Art of Balance Touch! is a port/sequel to 2010’s popular WiiWare puzzle game Art of Balance. Art of Balance Touch! takes everything the original did right – which is the entire game – and then doubles it, bringing more levels challenges and even an endurance mode to keep you entertained and on your toes.
Gameplay and Controls
Art of Balance Touch! is a physics based balance/puzzle game and your goal is to stack and balance a set of blocks for 3 seconds. Sound easy, right? Sure, it’s easy at first but as you progress through the worlds, you will find challenges aplenty. The real challenge is thinking of how to get your blocks to balance on whatever base you have. You may have a single flat base, or two upside down triangles, or a curved base. The combinations will vary greatly. In the beginning you will start out with simple shaped blocks, such as a cross, or a rectangle, or a triangle. However, you will soon find yourself having to work with timed blocks, which shatter a few seconds after another block is placed on top of it. There are also pressure blocks which allow up to 2 other block to touch them. Once a third block is placed on it, the pressure block will shatter. Something new to the series are gravity blocks. As if you weren’t already having to plan your moves carefully, the gravity blocks will without a doubt throw a wrench in the works. In levels which use the gravity blocks, you will have a top and bottom base. Each time you place said block, the gravity will reverse. So, what was the top now becomes the bottom and vice-versa. You can imagine having to work with multiple gravity blocks and still trying to maintain balance.
Arcade mode is the bulk of the game with 8 worlds and 200 levels. Initially, only the first of eight worlds is unlocked. In order to unlock another world, you must obtain at least the minimum number of rings, awarded to you upon completion of a level. There are 3 different types of levels in each world; basic, bonus and end. Upon completion, the basic will award you with one ring, bonus with two rings and the end stage with three rings. Once you obtain a set amount of rings, the next world opens and so on. Usually the bonus levels consist of you not only balancing your stack, but having to reach a preset height as well.
Endurance Mode presents you with a series of random levels which challenge you to beat the local hi-score records. You accomplish this by completing as many levels as possible, as quickly as possible with no more than 3 retries throughout your entire run. Your score is based upon a difficulty multiplier, life bonus and time bonus. It’s a great addition to an already robust game, however, an online leader-board is sorely lacking. There is also an Awards section which is your basic Achievements list. Unfortunately, there are only 13 achievements listed. It seems as though this was just tacked on in the end but I see the potential for so much more. Perhaps Shin’en will release a patch which will add new awards (hint! hint!)
The controls are simple and very easy to use. You have a choice of using either your stylus to drag and drop your blocks, or use the circle pad to move the onscreen cursor. You can and will rotate block using the shoulder buttons and that’s about all there are to the controls – simple and easy to use.
Visuals and Sound
The visuals are pretty decent looking and the 3D effect looks quite nice. You have the option of choosing between two different cameras, both of which alter the depth and zoom of the top screen. I believe in the WiiWare version the water would splash on the screen when your stack tumbled. While not anything to gripe about, it is noticeably absent from this version. Each level is very basic looking. You have a small dish filled with water and a base object protruding above the water. Since each world is themed, the levels themselves carry the theme over in the backgrounds and the blocks themselves. While fairly simple looking, the themes are unique and do a good job of adding some visual flair as you stare at the screen and ponder your next move. The sound is good, fairly simple and relaxing. While the soundtrack is repetitive, it’s pleasant enough to never be offensive to your ears.