“ Manufacturer: Nintendo / Genre: Puzzle / Release Date: 2008 „
Goo For All Ages
On paper, a 'physics-based puzzler' may not sound like the most enthralling of videogames, but independent developer 2DBoy's 'World of Goo' on the Nintendo Wii makes for a particularly addictive gaming experience. The concept is fairly simple; navigate a selection of 'goo-balls' from one part of the level to another - casting your mind back to the early 90's classic 'Lemmings' will give you a generalised idea of the gameplay. The goo balls are moved by building goo-towers - clicking the Wii Remote on a particular ball, and dragging it away from its neighbour will form a stretchy bond. Via this method, you can build all manner of goo-based structures... just make sure you build them nice and strong with a solid foundation, otherwise they will topple over. Of course, it's not quite as simple as it sounds (it never is) - there are obstacles to avoid, huge ravines to cross, and a selection of weird and wonderful creatures to interact with. Once you've got your goo balls to the required location (which happens to be a large pipe normally suspended in mid air), you'll need a to get a predetermined amount of them inside to progress.
Onward and Upward...
World of Goo's early levels are fairly easy, and basically serve as an introduction to the controls - however, as you get further into the game you'll be performing some intricate goo-based maneuvers, and also have to rely on the experiences you've gained in the early levels in order to succeed. You'll also have to use a few varieties of goo - ranging from a blind albino cave-dwelling species, to a rather unfortunate flammable type. Each genus has its own set of characteristics, and must be used in a different way if you are to reach your target. The general physics are excellent - goo moves as you would expect it to, and in the later levels (where you get to play with all manner of objects including balloons), everything reacts in a realistic manner. Some of the levels utilise weather conditions, and 'Blustery Day' will have you not only battling gravity, but also hurricane-like forces of nature. For this reason, you'll have to 'think outside of the box' as they say, and ultimately, World of Goo boils down to a sweat-inducing session of problem solving.
The Goo is looking at me funny...
Goo balls are cute little buggers (or at least the ones in the game are), with beady eyes and a penchant for making funny little noises when you click on them - they will occasionally call out "Pick me", and squeal with delight when they have reached the safety of their pipe - it's a pleasure to behold. Where World of Goo really excels however, is in its level design - there are a plethora of thoughtfully placed scenery items which are in many cases used as obstacles to avoid. One level (entitled 'Fisty's Bog') for example, has you building a goo bridge from the mouth of a large frog across a stretch of water, whilst another stage ('Tumbler') is based inside a revolving room - meaning your freshly built goo tower is suddenly an upside down freshly built goo tower (presenting the player with a new set of problems to overcome). What really impressed me is the fact that even though the levels are based on the same simple concept, no two stages appear alike. So does the game have any bad points? Well, however effective the controls are, they do have their limitations. Sometimes when you want to precisely select a particular goo-ball, you'll inevitably click on the one next to it, which will frequently result in a downed tower, or in an extreme case, a need to restart the level. To be honest, I don't really see a way around this, and as you become more experienced as a player, you'll become better at selecting the exact ball that you want to use. That said, it's one of the only annoyances in an otherwise perfect control system.
Pretty as a Picture
Graphically, the game is simple but also very nice looking. Most of the levels have a hand-drawn appearance, with multi-layered backdrops to give a perception of depth. It's all about the attention to detail, and you'll frequently see falling leaves and other bits of debris depending on the theme of the stage. Scattered around the World of Goo universe are a set of wooden signs which offer useful advice, humorous info, or often just a surreal anecdote. Finding the sign and clicking on it will transfer the text to the screen, and the info is always brought to you by the mysterious 'Signpainter'. These signs are for the most part genuinely funny, and it becomes habit to look for these wooden notices as soon as each level begins. There are vibrant colours aplenty on display, and if you look closely enough, you'll see that many of the in-game objects are subtly textured. The presentation is really good too, with all of the menus beautifully arranged, and the in-game text set in a pleasing rough-and ready typeface. Similarly, the soundtrack is excellent - with a selection of catchy and rousing tunes which rarely get annoying. Some of the tracks are repeated later on in the game, but due to the fact that each one is so addictive, you won't really mind. Apart from the main orchestral score, the sound effects are spot on too - clicking on a balloon results in a fantastic rubbery-stretch noise, and the sound of a goo ball popping when you've accidentally put it too close to a spinning blade (as you do!) is unforgettable! (Note: The graphics and sound are identical on all formats including the PC, Mac, and Wii versions of the game).
Difficulty, Replay Value & Multiplayer Options
Experienced gamers should be able to complete World of Goo in around eight hours - although it will feel like you have been playing the game for a lot longer due to the sheer amount that you'll have used your brain. There are forty-eight levels in total, and when they are done and dusted, you'll be able to play in a harder mode entitled 'OCD'. Here, you'll have to collect more goo per level to progress, and selecting OCD really is the ultimate challenge - it will significantly increase the time it takes to complete the experience. If you want to play with friends, then there is a multiplayer mode which takes the form of a co-operative story mode. Here, two players can join forces to tackle the levels, although it can be a case of 'too many cooks spoil the broth' - if you're not communicating well with the other player, then a friend's help can actually be a destructive force. In terms of replay value, the game features a mode called 'World of Goo Corporation' which is where all the excess goo that you've collected over the levels gathers. Here it's back to basics, with the general idea of building the biggest tower possible - believe me, it's very addictive - transporting you back to the days yore when you could happily build Lego towers on the carpet. Connect to the web and you can see the height of fellow builder's constructions, which really brings about a competitive edge to proceedings. It also means that you'll want to replay levels from the main game in order to collect more goo for the Corporation mode - ingenious!
Final Word - Should you 'goo' and buy it?
Word of Goo is a thoughtful and well made game which got me hooked from the first time I switched it on. It's one of those titles which is easy to enjoy but difficult to master, and can be enjoyed by a wide range of ages. The word I would probably use to describe the game is 'eccentric', and this is entirely apparent when you read into the general back-story of the goo-balls - it's actually quite a sad tale - a social commentary dealing with a wide variety of themes including the environment and the destructive force of big business (although perhaps I'm reading too much into it!). What's most incredible about the game is its really low budget, and the fact that only three people in total were responsible for making this particular title goes to show that you don't need millions of pounds to create a great gaming experience. The graphics and sound are spot on for a game of this type, and whether or not you're a fan of the puzzle game genre, this one hits all the right notes. Sometimes the most simple of ideas are the best, and that's a point which is certainly proven here - highly recommended. World of Goo can only be purchased via Nintendo's download service - so an internet enabled Wii is required. The current price is 1500 Nintendo points (equivalent to around £10 in 'real' money), although if you want to get a flavour of the game, a demo can be downloaded for free.
World of Goo is a Wii puzzle game primarily aimed at children. The premise is that some balls of goo have to work together to pile on top of each other, and stick to each other in order to reach a giant suction pipe which then transports them to the next stage.
Essentially the player uses the wand to click and drag the balls of goo together forming elaborate shapes and configurations of goo balls connected by subsequent strings of goo. Its basically a relatively original tower construction game, which is sure to help to develop children's cognitive functions, especially with its cool, accurate, if a little silly physics engine.
Although this is a valuable and subtle learning tool to introduce to children, its not really for adults at all, despite what the box and the platform might imply. Although the game itself is visually stimulating, the lack of variation in premise and mechanics spoils it quite a bit. It is very repetitive, and has you doing the same thing twice. This is a game that is definitely not worth paying full-price for, but if you are looking for a way to entertain the kids if you have a lack of child-friendly Wii titles, you can always download the demo for free from Wii Store. Also, if you don't feel like doing that, there are hundreds of flash game clones of this game online. This game is an old premise with a few cheap visual bells and whistles tacked on.
Although the style and tone is charming (much similar to kid-friendly titles like 'Gruntz,' 'Lemmings' and 'Worms,') its just not all that. Play the demo until you get sick of it, its got about as much replayability value and addictiveness as the full version. Avoid buying.
== Introduction ==
Inspired by earlier puzzlers, such as Lemmings, independent developers 2D Boy - a team of just three people - have developed this game for Nintendo's Wii Console, Microsoft Windows and Apple Mac, and it's the first of those versions that I'll be looking at here. Rather than being distributed on optical disc, it's downloadable for 1500 Nintendo points, which is about £10.50 in real money, using Nintendo's WiiWare service.
== Gameplay ==
The basics of gamplay are fairly simple, like all good ideas in gaming, but can rapidly lead to complex puzzles. You start out by building structures from balls of goo; when placed together they reach out struts to adjoining goo balls building up a structure reminiscent of Mecanno. However, the neat twist in the game is that all objects have weight and inertia; build your structures too high and they'll begin to sway and possibly collapse. This doesn't make things too complicated when you're just starting out, but when you have to cross ravines, dodge your way around infernal goo-shredding machines, and build high up into the sky, stressing your goo to its limits, it starts to become a challenge.
The goal of each level of the game is to get your structure to reach a pipe, through which your remaining goo balls will get sucked; hopefully enough of them to qualify you to move on to the next level. You start out with fairly simple tasks, and usually just a single kind of goo ball at a time, as the game gradually introduces you to the concepts that'll need to solve each of its many levels.
The differing goo balls all have their own special abilities and limitations. These include things like floating off like balloons, sticking to other objects in the game, being invulnerable to the shredders and spikes, and being able to be detached and reused from existing structures.
The bulk of the game forms a story mode, interspersed with amusing animations, in which you lead your band of goo balls through four seasons of adventure around their planet, followed by an epilogue of particularly tricky levels. As you go, you can also accumulate bonus balls that you can use in the World Of Goo Corporation, a sandbox mode that allows you to compete with other players around the world in building enormous towers of Goo; build high enough and you'll see floating clouds with the heights reached by other players and a series of signboards.
For the truly hardcore players out there, each level also has an OCD - Obsessive Completion Distinction - which can only be achieved by completing the level perfectly, in a minimum amount of time/moves and/or rescuing as many goo balls as possible.
== Controls ==
The game uses the Wii-mote to control a pointer on screen. Whilst a lot of games do this terribly badly, there's seemingly little lag at all here, and I quickly forgot I was using a controller at all as it just all felt like a natural extension of my arm. Indeed you won't find yourself undergoing any strange contortions at all in order to play the game, which makes it a good way to relax after a more strenuous game like Wii Sports or Wii Tennis. Since most of the levels are over fairly quickly - well, you'll either complete them or your goo balls will just collapse into an unrecoverable heap - you're unlikely to pick up any wrist strain or other Wii-sustained injuries.
A neat feature of the game is that up to four Wii-motes can control the placement of goo balls which allows for neat co-operative play, although the player with the master remote does tend to call the shots as the others are restricted to what they can see on the screen.
== Graphics and Sound ==
Most of the best Wii games tend to use simple, but effective, cartoon style graphics and World of Goo is no exception to that rule. Indeed it all looks reminiscent of a Flash game, although certainly not in a bad way; few flash games have been finished with the same level of finesse and attention to detail here. The goo balls themselves are endearingly cute with little eyes and mouths popping up, often spinning around due to the in-game physics.
The soundtrack fits in similarly well with a number of tunes from upbeat electronica to laid back brass band, with suitably cartoon effects from the goo balls themselves as they pop, squish and giggle as you control them.
== Longevity ==
I'd reckon that there's about ten hours play in here to complete all the puzzles, although that might stretch out a bit longer if you're a more casual player. That might not seem a lot compared to a lot of other games but, given the low price, ti still seems like good value for money. There's also excellent replay value with the sandbox World Of Goo corporation mode and the OCDs for each level.
On the other hand, Wii-ware titles aren't something you can rent or sell on once you've got tired of it, so that needs to be factored into your considerations as well. However, I think this game is a definite keeper.
== Overall ==
I'd think that this has to be one of the most original concepts to hit console gaming for quite some time, and even hardcore fans of traditional genres ought to take notice of this; it's truly worthy of comparison with the likes of Portal and Braid in terms of the innovation on offer, and additionally comes across as a more fully realized concept than either of those, which still have a few rough edges that will need to be addressed in future sequels.
(May also posted on Ciao as Phantom_Wombat)
This game really is very unusual. I've never seen anything like it. The only game that it resembles even remotely is "Lemmings" but saying that doesn't really do World of Goo justice.
Your mission is to move balls of goo around by building things with balls of goo. That doesn't really tell you anything but it is a game that must be seen to be appreciated.
Like any game with a large puzzle element it can be tremendously frustrating but this frustration never spoils the experience and the key feeling is won of relaxation, almost meditation. I found the game tapped into a love of engineering that I'd almost forgotten I had.
This is one of those very rare games that is almost as much fun to watch as it is to play and as such is a surprisingly good party game given that it has no two player option. It's also truly ageless and will appeal to anyone old enough to be able to point the wii remote at the screen.
There's a lot of value in the game. The main game is a good length and there is some re-play value too. There's also a lot of depth there and an odd strain of humour running through it.
I seriously recommend it for anyone in the mood for something quiet and soothing but still challenging.
Firstly let me say i have this on Mac but the Wii version is identicale aside from controls.
What a beautifully put together game. Having never heard of 2D boy before i was a little skeptical to say the least. Nevertheless the graphics are nothing short of spectacular making me actually slack jawed at points. You control various species of Goo Balls and need to (in most levels) use the Goo Balls to get them to a vacuum which sucks them up for the factory. Sounds boring? not at all, the way they react is different every time the levels are challenging to say the least and the story line is brilliant, comical and creative.
I spent a good few days on this game and will admit i skipped some levels (it really is challenging!) to get through it to find out what happens in the end.
The concept behind it is great and it kept me entertained for hours, well worth the money and i can't wait for if they make a second installment.