Granted, the whole theme of the Xbox Showcase this last week has seemingly been Halo, but there’s been some surprise announcements before the main event has even begun.
Sonic is a franchise that I grew up with and still love, and I was curious to see if we were at least going to get a new game in the same vein of a fast-platformer.
There had been murmurs on what Yuji Naka was working on, and we finally got it in the form of ‘Balan Wonderworld’, a new game that reunites Yuji Naka and Naoto Oshima, tailored for Xbox Series X, but also coming to Switch, PS4, PS5, and PC.
Here’s why it’s huge news, and why it should be the game to follow.
A Hyped Reunion
With the announcement came a trailer, and details on what the game involved. Being developed by ‘Balan Company’ and published by ‘Square Enix’, it brings the reunion of two colleagues who co-designed Sonic the Hedgehog.
Featuring two main characters called Emma and Leo, they are accompanied by a character called ‘Balan’, who can help them in collecting up to 80 costumes, scattered throughout the game.
These can seemingly enable different abilities for Emma and Leo to climb, jump, run, and much more.
This looks like a spiritual successor to NIGHTS, a game that Yuji Naka previously worked on back at Sonic Team in 1995 for the SEGA Saturn. There were also two characters, Claris and Elliot, followed by NIGHTS, so it seems like there’s already some similarities between NIGHTS and Balan.
Act 3 of Naka & Oshima
This is very telling to me, as NIGHTS was directed by Naoto Oshima, while it was produced by Yuji Naka. It looks like its the sequel that they’ve always wanted to make, but never got the chance to.
Here, it’s their third act; from Sonic, to NIGHTS, and now Balan. Just from the trailer it already shows those touches that make it look like the game that Sonic Team would have made for the SEGA Saturn and even the Dreamcast if things had gone SEGA’s way.
It's set to release on March 26 2021, which is plenty of time to see just what other inspirations the duo are drawing from. Lets also not forget ‘Blinx: The Time Sweeper’ on Xbox back in 2002, where Naoto Ohshima was a director of that project.
There’s a lot to look forward to with Balan, and this looks to be another fun, innovative entry that can further show just how a team from 1991, turned a hedgehog into a blue blur.
Welcome back Yuji & Naoto, it’s great to see you both back in the next-generation.
Balan Wonderworld Opening Scene revealed
Square Enix has revealed new cinematic footage of Balan Wonderworld that looks to capture everything that made us fall in love with NIGHTS. You can check it out below: