Art of Balance got its third release after hitting Wii Ware using the Wii Remote to play four years ago and the touch screen version on the 3DS eShop two years later. Now it’s the Wii U’s turn where just a single element makes it the definitive version: it shares the control schemes from both versions.
In order to play, you need to balance all your pieces in a determined platform and if it supports at least three seconds without touching the water you win, it’s just simple as that. In order to finish your task, you can use motion controls thanks to the Wii Remote aiming at the TV for more realistic fun, or use the touch controls on the tactile screen of the Wii U Gamepad for simple puzzle fun, where both controls work flawlessly. If you don’t like tactile or motion controls, you can also use buttons using the L-Stick and the A button.
Meanwhile it keeps the same 200 levels divided into eight different areas, there are new features exclusive for this version, including two new modes (Tower Tumble and Swift Stacker) and co-op support for up to five players on the already existent Arcade Mode and Endurance Mode.
The Arcade mode is the basic and principal mode of Art of Balance where the 200 levels are included. The levels will give you one ring after being complete, except some challenge levels (time attack, extreme balance and altitude levels) that give two or three rings depending on its difficulty. For every 20 rings you win you will unlock the next world.
The Endurance mode is a challenge version of the Arcade mode where you play levels in succession in order to win points (each level is chosen randomly). After three failed tries, you will lose, and your score will be sent to an online worldwide leadboard.
If you like online or split-screen multiplayer, the Swift Stacker mode is one of the new main features. Again, random levels will be chosen where the first to beat the level is the winner, and the winner is decided after 7 rounds online, or 5/7/9 locally. Tower Tumble mode also works with rounds, however, it only works locally: in this mode the players needs to take a turn in order to place one block at a time, where if the tower falls, all the other players get a point.
Each block can have different shapes and sizes, still a few of them will have special characteristics such as breaking after putting over three objects over them, or disappearing after a short lapse of time or by touching the same type of block, and even changing the gravity of the table.
Graphically, the game looks wonderful with a flawless 60 fps and a wonderful use of lighting and water effects (a special ability of the studio with Nintendo’s consoles it seems) and the soundtrack featuring relaxing melodies make a great companion to the game, therefore there is nothing to complain about.
The presentation of the game is great, including a good variety of levels, co-op and online multiplayer, online leadboards and an awards system for some replay value, including the three different control schemes included. The explanations of the game are also great and the manual makes both mentions of the modes and the controls, still its presentation is quite simple.
Art of Balance is a great entry for the Wii U eShop, mostly if you did not play the previous two releases of this title where the developers aimed to make not just an HD port, but also included new features resulting in a fresh experience for previous owners of the title. I would have wished for more levels, but it’s still worth its price.