Art of Balance TOUCH!: Fun with precarious puzzles

June 14, 2012

Shin’en is continuing its efforts to port its WiiWare library to the 3DS eShop, following Fun! Fun! Minigolf TOUCH! with a port of the relatively-popular Art of Balance. Oh, and there’s touch control, so it’s called Art of Balance TOUCH! Because you TOUCH! it!

Seriously, though, the game works really well on the system.

It’s a formula you may be familiar with, even if you didn’t play the WiiWare original: you stack various-shaped objects in an attempt to keep the structure sound long enough to pass a level. This version has special glass blocks that break if too much is stacked on top, which seems to be boring until you realize that breaking isn’t necessarily the route to failure. In fact, some stacking puzzles rely on creating a structure designed to break and not fall to win.

With any game that relies so much on precision, the controls are front-and-center. The Wii version relied on those unreliable pointer controls but was fun anyway, and the 3DS definitely improves on those with the touch-screen drag-and-drop scheme. There’s one drawback there, though, and it’s that by default the camera’s zoomed way in. If you’re trying to make a taller tower, you have to hold the piece near the edge as the view slowly zooms out and gives you room to place your piece. (Sometimes that can be your downfall.) There’s a slide pad scheme, but it’s very slow and not that precise. It’s there if you really want that, though. Visually, the game’s nice and slick for an eShop title, and does what you want it to. (We’ve even found the 3D to be helpful with judging where to place blocks.)

What’s especially nice about the game is the amount of content. The game has 200 levels, organized into worlds and placed in a branching sequence that gives you structure but lets you move around and keep playing if you’re stumped by a puzzle or two.

The eShop is definitely developing into a place for the kinds of comfortable puzzle games that you always want around as a change of pace from your big retail title. It’s a great stand-in to fill the role of a Pushmo or a Mario’s Picross if you’ve played through those and are looking for more, and at $7, it hits with exactly those aspirations.

Pros: Slick visuals, robust content, nice touch controls
Cons: Zoomed-in camera can make stacks, hopes fall

Score: 4/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.