Demo has been out for a few days. Played if for a few hours last night.
Presentation is a mixed bag. Tech side of things the game is underwhelming and that is made even more apparent when compared with the games wonderful CGI cutscenes. I swear to god that some of the animations are copied frame by frame from the Sonic Adventure games. Animation in general is meh and I get that they're purposely trying to emulate those games styles but even back the they were janky. What saves the presentation is the art direction. I'm so warmed at the heart to see Naoto Oshima's work again. Nights, Sonic and Billy hatcher all wrapped in new package.
The main gimmick of the game are the costumed powerups the kids can acquire within the levels. It's like SMB3 on steroids, but not all is fine and dandy with them. On one hand a lot of the powerups in the demo are the basic abilities that we expect to see in a 3D platformer. Nothing interesting in the demo, but the game does claim that over 80 costumes will be included so maybe there will be some actual interesting abilities. On top of that each costume has one specific use and that is all, so if you only have the sheep powerup who's only use is a slow glide(Knuckles) than that sucks because the kids by themselves are useless(cant kill enemies without a costume) so prepare for an awkward time killing enemies if no other powerups are in the area. One the other hand I do like that there are powerups that exist only just to be powerups (not required to traverse the stage) and you can hold up to 3 powerups at a time.
No strong feelings in regard to the action stages. They look visual good but nothing really seemed above standard 3D platforming. Lots of shiny stuff and paths to traverse.
Chao Garden has returned, but this time they're called Tim's. Little chicken things that can be found in egg form during action stages and brought back to the hub world where they can be hatched and fed. Oh! and they actually do shit. Once hatched they will follow you back into the action stages and they will help you fight. As you feed them they grow in size and change appearance based on what crystals you feed them.
EDIT: One more thing. The Main character Balan is playable in these interactive cutscenes that have him flying around destroying shit for some unexplained reason. Entirely quick time event based and if that is the only use the character that will be a major disappointment.
Balan Wonderland is everything that I knew it would be; a new game from legacy developers that feels like they dusted off 10+ year old developments plans. Day 1 buy but a play much later.