Balan Wonderworld, New 3D Platformer Developed by Sonic the Hedgehog Creators, Coming in 2021.

Balan Wonderworld is an upcoming 3D platformer developed by the creators of Sonic the Hedgehog. Helmed by Yuji Naka and Naoto Ohshima, Square-Enix’s upcoming title will herald the return of two platforming legends from the heydays of Sega and Sonic Team. This will also debut their new development studio, Balan Company.

What makes Balan Wonderworld significant?

Naoto Ohshima created Sonic the Hedgehog while Yuji Naka programmed the original Genesis titles. Yuji Naka would later lead Sonic Team in developing Sonic titles before leaving Sega in 2006. His last original platformer that featured a mascot character was Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg for GameCube in 2003. Perhaps the most striking resemblance this has to Naka’s past work, however, is NiGHTS into dreams…

While Naoto Ohshima had continued developing games outside of Sega since 2001, he would find success in creating his own mascot platformer, Blinx the Time Sweeper, for Xbox. His studio, Artoon, would later go on to develop Yoshi’s Island DS. Once Artoon disbanded, Ohshima founded Azrest, which would develop games for Nintendo franchises, such as Yoshi’s New Island and Hey! Pikmin for 3DS.

With that being said, this is the first time Naka and Ohshima have teamed up together in decades. For fans of classic Sonic the Hedgehog and NiGHTS Into dreams…, this game feels like the return of an important era.

You can learn more about the title from the official website here.

Releasing in the perfect timeframe.

Balan Wonderworld will release during an era where 3D platforms have seen a massive boom. While Nintendo has pressed on with successful titles, like Super Mario Odyssey, only in the last few years have 3D platformers seen mainstream success in the gaming market once more.

Former Banjo-Kazooie developers founded Playtonic Games, creating Yooka-Laylee. Independent studios, such as Playful Studios, succeeded with games like New Super Lucky’s Tale for Nintendo Switch.

Meanwhile, Insomniac Studios‘ reboot of Ratchet and Clank in 2016 set the groundwork for the upcoming title Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart. Plus, developers Vicarious Visions and Toys for Bob remade classic PlayStation titles in the form of Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy and Spyro Reignited Trilogy, respectively. In the former’s case, Toys for Bob is currently developing Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

Final Thoughts

As a longtime platforming fan, I’m glad to see the creators of Sonic working on a new project. I’m almost intrigued to play Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg and NiGHTS into dreams…, the latter being released on the PlayStation Store for PS3. If nothing else, I suppose I could watch a playthrough on YouTube.

It would be fun to delve into Yuji Naka’s earlier works before this title comes out. While Sega has catered to fans with references to both games over the years, fans truly loved these original titles and want to see their creativity return.

While some 3D platformers have floundered with titles, like Sonic Forces in 2017, their releases have otherwise come few and far in between. However, thanks to the efforts of Insomniac Studios, Toys for Bob, and now Balan Company, platforming fans can rest assured; the era is back.

Look forward to Balan Wonderworld when it comes out for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, PC, and Nintendo Switch in Spring 2021. Keep up with us and follow our site for incoming updates on Balan Wonderworld!

Why Do People Play Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Online Despite Its Toxicity?

Ever since COVID-19 forced the globe into a quarantine, players have not been able to attend offline gaming tournaments. With CEO Dreamland being the last one, hosted back in March, players have been shut into their homes while playing video games online. Among the most popular choices includes Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. While I covered Smash Wi-Fi tournaments developing in a past article, this was before the aftermath ensued.

As I honestly expected, players quickly grew fed up with playing online. This even caused #FixUltimateOnline to trend on Twitter, with dismayed players sending the trending tweet to Nintendo’s official Twitter accounts. Despite this, Wi-Fi tournaments continue to grow in popularity. As such, players will continue entering them while complaining in the long run. I will break down some of the major problems of Wi-Fi tournaments as well as what draws people to them.

Netcode

For starters, Smash’s netcode remains the paramount problem among Wi-Fi players. The connection causes unnecessary amounts of input delay, particularly in Quickplay. You can never tell who is playing with a LAN Adapter which, at best, only remedies the problem somewhat.

Tournaments, such as Pound Online, Quarantine Series, and The Box continue to run with hundreds of players. Unfortunately, Wi-Fi tournaments come with Wi-Fi problems. The first being that connection issues not only stifle matches, but create enemies among players.

The first example being renowned Roy player from Florida, Goblin, losing to Mexico’s Mr. Game & Watch main, Maister. Following their match, Goblin tweeted out a message regarding his match with Maister. The tweet and replies show that this came due to the match lagging.

Another such example that generated controversy includes Cosmos‘ set with Grayson at Pound Online. Despite being ahead two games, Cosmos requested a lag check. The result Tournament Organizer (TO) Cagt to disqualify Grayson from bracket. The ensuing fallout created controversy across Smash Twitter. However, Smash online is reeling from more than just netcode issues.

Please also note that Nintendo has made no attempt to fix online despite multiple balance patches for the game. In fact, lag was spotted even before the game’s release. The video below showcases an example of Nintendo trying to use “damage control” to minimize the issue that would eventually plague the game.

Wi-Fi Characters

Along with Wi-Fi issues come Wi-Fi characters. Smash Twitter has collectively discussed, in disgust, their least favorite characters to fight online. Among them largely include Zelda and Samus, both of which otherwise aren’t considered top tier characters offline.

However, the online Smash community has been dealing with an even more pressing matter from a single character: Sonic the Hedgehog. Known as a high tier character in Smash 4, Sonic has otherwise maintained steady results in Ultimate offline. During this transition to online play, however, Sonic’s prominence has once again developed him into an infamous character to fight. At the center of the controversy is Dominican Republic’s Sonic main, Sonix.

This largely stems from Pound Online where Goblin and Sonix fought in bracket. Even though Goblin maintained a lead in their last game, Sonix eventually brought the percent back. Rather than, KO him Sonix used the last few seconds to stall for a time-out. This resulted in Goblin’s rant about Sonic with Sonix catching wind of it and sharing it on Twitter.

As such, this created a divide in the community. In a community that frequently targets players based on their mains, this only perpetuated even more in-fighting through social media. One TO even suggested banning Sonic from his next online tournament.

Additionally, fighting game website, EventHubs, reached out to Sonix for an interview. He explained his thoughts on the current competitive scene as well as gripes regarding online play. You can read the full interview here.

Why not enter Wi-Fi tournaments?

As a competitive player myself, I have entered several tournaments, one of which I won. As someone who lives in an area with roughly 20 players who attend weekly tournaments, my training options consists almost exclusively of online practice. However, I’m not so desperate as to play in an online event.

For one, I don’t feel like being confined to waiting for my bracket match to enter. I would rather spend time being more productive. Another part is I don’t want to be part of this rage culture. Smash Wi-Fi historically brings out the worst in its players.

On the outside, people on social media see players as taking online way too seriously. While some players might see these endeavors as “just for fun,” others are playing for thousands of dollars in prizes. As the burdens outweigh the enjoyability, I feel no reason to involve myself.

Also, there is no feeling quite like being at an actual tournament. I entered several tournaments a month, including locally, regionally, and even out-of-state majors, such as Momocon and CEO. Getting to see your friends again and playing offline matches against good competition makes the difference.

The tournament experience, on the opposite hand, largely brings out the best in players. There’s much more sportsmanship and camaraderie at offline tournaments when you’re meeting face-to-face. Plus you’re not hampered by the Wi-Fi connection either.

Alternatives to Smash Wi-Fi.

The reason people continue to play Smash online is because it stimulates the brain. It’s a fast-paced, competitive activity that plays unlike any other. As someone who’s staying at home playing JRPGs, like Persona and Fire Emblem, I too feel the need to test my reflexes and play a game of Smash. Even if it’s just for a few minutes to an hour, on Smash online, nothing feels quite like playing my favorite game.

I could play other fighting games, but I’m also not that good at them. Even then, I would still be running into largely the same netcode problem if I’m playing another fighter. If I need to play Smash seriously, I can always host a Battle Arena. I can enter a Discord with competitive players, seek a match out, and play with them till I’m done. Most of the time, the players I fight will have a LAN Adapter, making the connection a bit more seamless and easier to play.

Meanwhile, some players or even TOs, like Bear, have been spending their time fiending on Mario Kart 8 Online. As the best-selling Nintendo Switch game it still packs plenty of life several years later.

What you want to play for that mental stimulus is largely up to you. There’s tons of competitive online games out there including fighting games, Overwatch, Mario Kart, Splatoon, and more. But if you’re willing to brave the storm and play Smash Bros., the best thing to do is not take it too seriously. Have fun online, find people to play, and host battle arenas if you’re concerned you’ll run into lag. Despite what goes around on social media, it’s still playable. While online is not perfect, not playing Smash is even less enjoyable.

How are you managing through an era without Smash tournaments? Let us know in the comments below!

How Are Video Game Companies Preserving Their Titles for Future Generations?

Over the last decade, we’ve seen publishers release a tremendous amount of remakes and remasters. Some have given us incentive to play an even better version of a beloved favorite. Others, ever so rarely, have left players with a bad aftertaste.

However, one can’t deny the importance of re-releasing classics. Not only have publishers given longtime fans a chance to replay a favorite. But they’ve also introduced their legacy to a new generation of fans. With that said, I want to list a few noteworthy game companies that have put some effort into preserving their video game library for generations to come.

Capcom

Known for their many re-releases of Street Fighter II throughout history, Capcom has remastered many of their titles over the years. They’ve maintained Mega Man, Street Fighter, and several more as household names thanks to their countless re-releases. Mega Man Legacy Collection, Mega Man X Legacy Collection, and Mega Man Zero + ZX Legacy Collection feature a massive chunk of their classic platforming series. Capcom even released the Beat ’em up bundle which features some titles never seen on consoles before.

Notably, you can find the entire Resident Evil series on PS4, Xbox One, and PC. Plus, this generation saw the re-release of Okami HD, onto modern platforms, as well as Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen remastered for modern consoles. Capcom also released Devil May Cry 1-3 on Switch with DMC3 receiving some hearty new additions.

Perhaps even more noteworthy would be to consider Capcom’s remakes of Resident Evil 2 and 3. Much like Resident Evil 1’s remake, 2 and 3 were completely built from the ground up. These new features incorporate modern-day enhancements, controls, and storytelling fitting for a game of the current era.

Absences

Despite releasing Darkstalkers, Ghosts ‘n Goblins, Breath of Fire, and Power Stone for PSP, however, we have not seen these games in over a decade. Capcom did release several of their Marvel vs. and Darkstalkers titles during the last generation, but have not been seen since. Furthermore, we have not seen the likes of Viewtiful Joe since the 2000s. Capcom keeps some of these series alive, so to speak, as costumes in Street Fighter V. But we would love to play them as full games again.

However, given that Capcom does continue to release some of their best games every generation, new players will get to try Resident Evil , Okami, and many other classics. Perhaps we may yet see more long-missing names appear in this decade.

Square-Enix

The company’s habit of re-releasing titles dates back to the early 2000s. You could find Final Fantasy IV, V, and VI, on Game Boy Advance, all remade with extra content. Chrono Trigger, the 1995 SNES classic, also came out for DS in 2008. All of the aforementioned games would later come to mobile devices and Steam Despite coming out to various levels of reception, Square-Enix would continue to update and polish them for a new generation to enjoy.

Despite their noble intentions, the sprites could use some work.

One of the biggest walls Square-Enix smashed was when they announced the remaster of Final Fantasy VIII, in 2019, for modern systems. The new version of the game includes redone character textures, upscales the title to HD, and features other minor improvements. This came with a slew of other announcements featuring remastered games.

Among those included in the announcements, Square-Enix released The Mana Collection, which features the original 90s Mana trilogy. This includes Trials of Mana, previously known as Seiken Densetsu 3, which was never released in the west. Similarly, Square-Enix released Star Ocean: First Departure R, Romancing SaGa 3, and SaGa Scarlet Grace Ambitions on modern consoles. With that being said, expect to see the newly-announced remaster of Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles, as well as NieR: Replicant, within the next year.

Speaking of remakes…

Super Mario RPG

Despite the love Square-Enix has shown for many of their series, one particular game stands out missing in action. Due to the copyrights involved, Square-Enix owns the rights to many of the characters in the 1996 SNES classic, Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars. Mario’s breakout RPG remains heralded as one of the greatest JRPGs of all time.

While it was released on the Wii and Wii U Virtual Consoles, you would never see more than a passing mention from Nintendo’s social media accounts. However, it released on the SNES Classic along with Final Fantasy VI. Despite this, though, unlike many of the aforementioned titles, Super Mario RPG has never been re-released as more than a direct port without any updates.

Many fans want a remake or a true remake or sequel to Super Mario RPG. While Square-Enix has done well for preserving their most famous series, fans would love to see Nintendo and Square-Enix collaborate on another classic featuring its sorely missed characters.

Bandai Namco

Perhaps the single most impressive re-release Bandai Namco has published is Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition. Once lost to history as the Japan-exclusive release, the Definitive Edition includes all of the story content, new characters, and battle improvements never seen in the west. Save for Troy Baker, voice of Yuri, it also includes the original voice actors reprising their roles for the newly dubbed lines.

Meanwhile, Bandai Namco has stayed busy reviving SoulCalibur in 2018 as well as maintaining Tekken 7. These include songs from their past respective entries which you can add to any stage. If you love SoulCalibur music, you won’t be disappointed.

Also, if you’re a fan of Pac-Man, you can download it on mobile apps and play newly released maps. Namco Museum Arcade Pac for Nintendo Switch also includes a number of their old arcade hits, like Galaga and Splatterhouse.

Perhaps one day, though, Bandai Namco might release more Tales games in the west. While we’ve never gotten Tales of Destiny: Director’s Cut, Tales of Destiny II, or Tales of Rebirth, hope never truly fades.

Sega

With each generation, Sega releases new Genesis collections. You may have seen them released as Sega Genesis Collection, Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection, or even Sega Genesis Classics. Let’s also not forget the release of the Sega Genesis Mini microconsole.

I’m a little sad knowing that the Sega Genesis Mini in America does not have Yu Yu Hakusho: Makyo Toitsusen.

Even though, for some reason, re-releases of Sonic 3 & Knuckles are apparently rare, Sega generally does a good job of keeping their Genesis games afloat. Sega even released a Dreamcast Collection, featuring several hits, on Steam, as well as the Saturn classic NiGHTS into Dreams…

As of late, it seems Sega has become more interested in releasing some of their classic series. Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD recently came to modern consoles. Following that, Sega released the Panzer Dragoon Remake on Nintendo Switch. Also noteworthy includes not only the remaster of Shenmue I & II on modern consoles, but the release of Shenmue III, which released over 15 years after Shenmue II.

But one more thing I want to cover is how Sega has distributed their classic series to different studios to develop their games. They collaborated with Christian Whitehead and his team to develop Sonic Mania, one of the best reviewed Sonic titles of all time. Now, with April 30th around the corner, Dotemu is set to release Streets of Rage 4, the first official title in the illustrious beat ’em up series in over 25 years.

While we would certainly love to see the return of Skies of Arcadia and Billy Hatcher, Sega has done a surprisingly stellar job of releasing classic titles and new entries onto modern-day consoles and PC. Since they own the rights to Puyo Puyo and its characters, I would also love to see the Madou Monogatari series return.

With that said, I’m even more surprised that I didn’t have to name many absent franchises this time. Sega has done a surprisingly stellar job of releasing most of their classic entries into the current era. Well done!

Nintendo

Over the last decade, Nintendo has built up a bit of a resume remaking classics we grew up with. One example includes Fire Emblem Gaiden, for Famicom in Japan, which never came to America until it was released as Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia for 3DS. Nintendo has also released four Legend of Zelda remakes, three of which were developed by GREZZO. The latest remake includes Link’s Awakening for Nintendo Switch. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD was developed by Nintendo EAD, which built the GameCube classic from the ground up and added several upgrades.

Furthermore, Nintendo has released many of their unsuccessful Wii U titles – largely due to the failure of the console itself – onto the Nintendo Switch. You’ll find some amazing software like Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, Captain Toad: Treasure Trackers, Bayonetta 2, and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, released with a visual update and some noteworthy updates.

However, I feel Nintendo still needs help when it comes to keeping some of their franchises alive. It goes without saying that we’ve seen more than a decade without the release of F-Zero or Golden Sun. The Nintendo Switch Online’s SNES Classics library misses a number of heavy-hitters such as Super Mario RPG and Donkey Kong Country. The lack of regular updates does not help its relevance who wish to see more titles. Even compared to the Wii Virtual Console from 14 years ago, Nintendo could do much better with the Switch online.

Puyo Puyo 2 imported on the SNES Classics libary? Now that’s a surprise.

In the past, Nintendo released the Ambassador Program for 3DS. Featuring ports of GBA titles digitally released for 3DS, this feature was only available for people who owned the initial release of the 3DS. They were not seen again until they were released on the Wii U eShop For 3DS owners who enjoy playing these games on a handheld, this did not help them at all. Also, as many players are aware, Nintendo still refuses to release Mother 3 in the west.

For Nintendo, it’s a mixed bag. They remake classic titles and the upgrades make them even better. The Switch releases of Wii U titles give players hope we could see more classics like Super Mario 3D World embraced by fans who didn’t own a Wii U. But Nintendo also seems finicky, even compared to the aforementioned companies, when it comes to keeping their abandoned series fresh.

Konami

Until recently, Konami seemed to completely neglect digital preservation. In fact, they seem to have completely ignored the console and PC gaming market entirely. After the unceremonious departure of Metal Gear creator, Hideo Kojima, and Castlevania Producer, Koji Igarashi, their studio had become bereft of classic titles.

During the 2000s, the company released amazing titles like Silent Hill 2, Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow, Metal Gear Solid 3, and Contra 4. The 2010s, on the other hand, saw the controversial reboot of Castlevania (Lords of Shadow) and what many deemed to be an unfinished title, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Even P.T. Silent Hills, a horror demo many players looked forward to, was scrapped completely.

The last few years, though, saw the release of Super Bomberman R, a return to form for the classic Bomberman series. Konami later updated the title with several free DLC releases as well as ports to the PS4, Xbox One, PC. In 2018, they also released Castlevania Requiem, which featured Castlevania: Rondo of Blood and Symphony of the Night (PSP version) for PS4.

But perhaps last year showed the biggest change in tide. Castlevania Anniversary Collection, Contra Anniversary Collection, and Konami Arcade Classics Anniversary Collection included many releases from the 80s and 90s. These titles even featured Japanese versions of their respective games as well as exclusive interviews. Even more impressive was that these were the first official releases of Castlevania Bloodlines and Contra Hard Corps, both initially released for Sega Genesis, in over 25 years.

We don’t know if this means Konami is throwing a bone to their fans or if they’re pushing back into the right direction. We can only hope to see them return to form as the gaming giant they once were.

Final Thoughts

While it’s important for game companies to keep pressing forward, by creating sequels and new IPs, it’s also important for fans to know where they came from. Releasing older games creates praise from players who want to try a new experience or relive their past memories. Furthermore, it establishes a relationship between the developers and the fans by listening to their requests.

As long as video game companies set a precedent, it might encourage other publishers to follow. Let’s hope that we can see the best of old and new from this decade onward. Maybe one day Sony might even release a remake of the PS1 JRPG classic, The Legend of Dragoon. Just maybe.

Which games do you wish to see return one day? Let us know in the comments below!