When I first heard about World of Goo way back when on X-Play. This strange, downloadable, puzzler/construction game from 2D Boy looked ridiculously intriguing and unlike just about any game I’d ever seen. Within mere months of its release on the Wii and PC, this game garnered a lot of airtime and an award or three. (Actually just one nomination, but it was a damn good one.) At a time when few original/indie games were available anywhere let alone on the Wii, World of Goo received its fair share of praise. I downloaded the demo onto my old laptop, and sure enough, it was fun, amusing, and definitely different. But the game struggled to play on my sad processor. I thought about getting the game on the Wii, but I wasn’t too thrilled about the notion of using the Wii motion controller. I’ve never really liked the Wiinote and nunchuck, and I didn’t want to waste money on a great game that could be hampered by crappy controls. I figured that whenever I upgraded my laptop, I’d download the game then.
The laptop upgrade happened, but World of Goo didn’t because of, and I hate to keep coming back to the same ol’ song and dance, Mass Effect and GTA IV. Sorry, but that’s how it was. Sure, I visited Wiiware occasionally and saw World of Goo for sale, watched the trailers, but I just wasn’t compelled enough to go through with the purchase.
Fast forward to just last month when I decide to invest in a tablet, the Google Nexus 7. It’s a brilliant machine that works smoothly and handles itself with ease. And what was the first thing I did after getting the thing set up? Why, buy some games, of course! I first grabbed a few free titles from Google Play and then perused the non-free section. Going through that store made me feel like I had been living under a rock with one eye peeking out for the past few years. Sure, I had heard of all the games that now sat for purchase before me, but I never truly considered how I might bring them into my life. All that changed when I saw World of Goo. With the swipe of a single transaction, it was mine!
I’d say **spoilers** here, but this is a hard game to spoil — each player will experience and interpret it differently. Maybe avoid the videos if you want to go into it sight unseen.
So what about that story? It’s a beautifully odd tale that revolves around the World of Goo Corporation and its…various…products? Of sorts. Kinda. The whole premise plays out through bizarrely wonderful cut scenes and mysterious signs in each level left by a faceless “Sign Painter. Think of it as a Beckett play where the characters are just as absurd and made of goo. Yeah…that’s about right. Following the strange epitaphs of the Sign Painter is just as addicting as the game itself. The words are there as much to help as they are to astound. As for t goo balls, they just want to get as high as they can to see “far away new lands,” so they have some motivation outside of just being cute and squishy.
The real genius in Wold of Goo, though, is in the truly addicting gameplay. As a building puzzler, one of your objectives in each stage is to build, build, and build some more! Using your controller (if playing on the Wii) or touchpad (if playing on a mobile device), get your goo balls to the pipe located in each stage to proceed to the next one.
Sounds easy in theory, and it is at first. Obviously, however, things become more difficult as the game progresses. Also, there’s a minimum number of balls that you must save in each level to move into the next, so you can’t use all the balls to make your structures. On the flipside, you don’t have to complete each and every level in a given stage to progress. Of course, your ultimate goal is to collect as many goo balls as possible, so it’s hard to leave levels unturned.
Not only do the challenges in each level become more difficult as the game goes on, but the types of goo balls at your disposal changes throughout the game. At the beginning, you have your “normal” simple, sticky balls that are obvious in form and function. Later on in the game, you’ll com across balls with different properties — some that aren’t sticky, some that can be unstuck, some that can be flung around rooms, some that can be destroyed, some that can float, and so on. It’s perfectly fascinating trying to figure out how to use the balls in the most efficient and effective way possible in order to succeed.
I mentioned before that the game has something of an absurdest slant, and that extends well into the visuals, which are sublimely rendered in 2D against kinda, sorta 3D backdrops. The graphics range from bright and cheery to sterile and pixelated to hellish and macabre. (And if you doubt that World of Goo could ever be described as “hellish,” well, by grace, get thee to the game my friend!)
By and large, World of Goo also has an incredibly awesome soundtrack. Listen to it an you’ll hear inklings of everything from Danny Elfman to John Williams. Each stage has its own theme, and which each theme comes a certain crop of songs that masterfully pair with the gameplay. While the game never forces you to quickly complete levels, some songs will make you inadvertently quicken you pace, while other songs melt into serenity and calm. Taken as a whole, the music in World of Goo comfortably rests alongside some of the best game soundtracks ever. And I’m also playing through Metroid Prime, which is musically magnificent, so that’s saying something.
The World of Goo probably isn’t going to change your life, but it will certainly change your mood while playing. It’s hard not to crinkle your face into a goofy smile while maneuvering little, sticky, and occasionally vocals balls around and into structures. It’s like playing with Legos, except there are no hard corners and confusing instructions. While I’m sure it’s fun to play on the Wii, I had a grand time with it on my tablet — the controls, the visuals, the music, all perfect. If you enjoy a little absurd irony and storytelling and take immense joy in uttering “goo balls,” then grab your copy from iTunes or Google Play today!