The third time is the charm, though this game has always had charm.
If you never played Art of Balance on Wii or Nintendo 3DS, you missed out on a fantastic puzzle journey. Your goal is ensure balance between a stack of blocks you build up and the surface that the blocks are on. If you fail, the blocks fall into water and you have to start over. This concept sounds easy enough to grasp, but over time, Art of Balance, now on the Wii U eShop, introduces new block types that shatter or disappear at contact with a similar type of block alongside a host of other unique challenges.
The small line between failure and success can be very irritating, though. At moments, I felt I had the right idea to solve a puzzle, but Art of Balance strongly disagreed with me and my tower came toppling down. I kept repeating the same moves over and over and eventually managed to prevail, relying more on dumb luck seemingly. While it is great that Art of Balance allows for experimentation, there were a few spots where a fixed solution might have been better. Luckily, the controls are rock solid. You can play it with motion controls using the Wii Remote, with physical buttons on the GamePad, or with touch screen controls.
Next to the 200 arcade levels from the Nintendo 3DS release, the Wii U version hosts quite a variety of modes. Endurance mode returns to allow you to play levels back to back without interruption with only three retries at your disposal. Both of these modes can be played together with up to five people, so you can work together to overcome the trickiest obstacles. The Wii's multiplayer mode, now known as Swift Stacker, is also back to party. You duke it out in two teams to find the solution to a puzzle the fastest. The best thing about Swift Stacker is that it can be played locally, online or even a combination of the two. New to the Wii U version is the local multiplayer-only mode Tower Tumble. It is kind of a reverse Jenga where you place blocks on a tower. If the tower crumbles, all of your other opponents receive a point. Each mode has its own unique spin, keeping the game continually fresh.
Art of Balance on Wii U is definitely the best version of the Shin’en classic by far. The variety of control options, modes, and puzzles is a true delight, lasting a good number of hours. While it feels a bit unfair at times, the true quality of the overall experience still shines through constantly.