This hands-on preview was originally published on N-Europe on 16th April 2008.
The world ends with Goo.
There are many wonderful gooey things in the world. Freshly baked cookies, jelly, and… okay, there aren’t that many wonderful objects made out of goo. At least, not in the real world. 2D Boy, a brand new two-man development studio, have recently been hard at work on a revolutionary new game for the PC and WiiWare called World of Goo, which I have had the great pleasure to spend some time playing. But what exactly is this gloopy gem all about?
World of Goo could be described as a cross between Jenga and Lemmings, with an additional few hundred heaped tablespoons of pure, unadulterated fun. By assuming the control of an all-powerful Goo God who has taken the mortal form of a pixellated cursor (not officially confirmed), the lives of hundreds of small gooey creatures are in your very capable hands. You must manipulate these small, sticky spheres to create towering structures in order to make your way across the globular maps to the vacuum-powered pipes which are just waiting to suck up all your goo.
The title’s control scheme is extremely simple and easy to pick up. Point and grab the awaiting goo balls to pick them up, and then drag them about to move them and fix them on to your structure. The advanced physics engine in the game means that where ever you fix your blobs on your tower, the segment will begin to sag or lean depending on how many balls are collected in one area.
Unlike Jenga, your tower won’t completely annihilate itself if it falls over, but you can often use the weight of your goo balls to your advantage. Trying to find a balance in your tower’s weight is all part of the fun of World of Goo, and after a bit of time with the game, it’ll feel completely natural to you.
Reports that the Goo Goo Dolls will be providing the soundtrack are unconfirmed.
Different goo balls are available to use depending on the scenario. For example, simple structures only require the standard tar-like goo balls, whilst green plant-like balls can be used to climb walls (the feet of the structure can stick to two parallel walls for support, and to help the structure climb higher towards a pipe which lies somewhere above the level). Small, glowing bugs also adorn many levels, and can be grabbed to reset your last, potentially fatal move.
The graphical style of World of Goo is quite lovely and charming. The environments and the many sloppy organisms in the titular world look like the two-dimensional love child of Tim Burton and Shigeru Miyamoto (which is a good thing).
A large creature belches out goo balls which must make their way horizontally across the bog, with an Indiana Jones-esque spiked ceiling looming above, poisonous bog waters below, and only several balloons at your disposal to keep your structure afloat.
The true ingenuity of the visuals and the level design can be seem prominently in one of the first few levels called Fisty’s Bog, in which a large creature belches out goo balls which must make their way horizontally across the bog, with an Indiana Jones-esque spiked ceiling looming above, poisonous bog waters below, and only several balloons at your disposal to keep your structure afloat as you make your way to the pipe. Though many of the levels will leave you more clueless than Stevie Wonder at a miming convention, dedication and perseverance will eventually triumph and lead to a satisfying completion of said frustrating level.
I was quite literally taken aback by the game’s musical score. It sounds like it would be at home with an epic adventure game such as Zelda, rather than an amazingly quirky and fun puzzle game. Credit also goes to the voices of the goo balls, which emit squeaky and hilarious remarks when picked up, moved… or killed.
Although the game contains some very minor gripes, these don’t take anything away from the wonderful gameplay experience. World of Goo looks set to be one of WiiWare’s best offerings, and has enough refreshing and revolutionary content to warrant your attention for weeks, months, and maybe even years.