Review by Aaron Thornton
OK I’ll admit it; I don’t play my Wii very often. To be totally honest, it’s been months. Sad, isn’t it? That there has been so little to draw my attention to Nintendo’s console in the past few months. With the advancements we’ve seen in games recently, it’s been harder and harder to stay interested in Nintendo’s distinctively ”last generation” gaming machine. But recently something has caught my attention and pulled me back in. I’m sure you’ve heard it — the internet’s collective song of praise for a little WiiWare title called ‘World Of Goo‘. You’ve heard it, right? Well I’m adding my voice to the chorus. World of Goo is incredible. The simple game mechanics combined with incredibly creative puzzles and a uniquely beautiful art direction make for a game that’s impossible not to love.
The basic premise of World of Goo is simple; your goal is to get a certain number of goo balls to an exit pipe, while using those same goo balls to build the structure that delivers the balls to the pipe. When you begin a level there will be a base structure to build off of. The standard goo ball can be attached to two nearby points to form a triangle. With enough goo balls you can build almost anything. The game has a very advanced physics engine, so these structures will react realistically to the forces of gravity. The shapes are solid, but by no means rigid. Since they are made of goo, the forms will bend and sway as gravity takes hold. If a single joint in the structure is put under too much pressure, it will eventually crumble. It becomes a literal balancing act between the architectural integrity and weight of your goo structure. All the while you must keep in mind the number of goo balls you have to work with and how many have to be delivered safely to the exit pipe in order to complete the stage.
Throughout the game you’ll be introduced to many different “species” of goo, many of which have special attributes. Some can be taken apart and reassembled. Others can stick to walls or touch dangerous surfaces. Some burn, some explode, some hang limp, some float like balloons. You’ll have to use the specialty of each type of goo to get through the level and achieve your goal. Every type of goo is used in imaginative ways that only get more ingenious as the game progresses. As soon as you think you’ve got it all figured out, the game throws something at you that will force you to use a type of goo in a way you never thought of before. You’ll be using new techniques right up until the last stage.
The game has incredible style. The art direction is somewhere between Dr. Seuss and Tim Burton. Every chapter has an overarching visual theme, and every stage is unique enough that you will never feel like you’re in the same place twice. There are times where you will be amazed that you are playing a WiiWare game. It would be nice to see these graphics in HD, but in all honesty, you will not notice unless you make a point to. There are certain levels in the game that are stunningly beautiful, not just in a graphical sense, but as a genuine piece of art. The visuals are crisp, clean, and colorful, and it works perfectly with this type of game.
The music in World of Goo is just as impressive. There are a lot of different styles represented here. Some tracks remind me of epic movie scores, while others seem to take another page out of the Tim Burton library. The main theme is very reminiscent of Beatlejuice. Certain areas, the windmill stage for example, work incredibly well as a combination of music and visual art. It really is amazing. Sometimes you have to take a second to soak it all in. Like the levels themselves, there is so much variety in the music. You will never get sick of these themes.
Though this game is mostly about puzzle solving, there are bits and pieces of a story that ties the whole thing together. These little details are delivered through signs located around the stages. They consist mostly of the observations and insights of the unnamed sign painter, and they often add a touch of humor to the game. They’ve even snuck a few geeky jokes in there that are sure to get a chuckle for those in the know. They have no reservations about breaking the 4th wall either. On one occasion the sign painter even pokes fun at the fact that the game doesn’t run in HD. On another sign he mentions how life seems to be nothing more than a big physics demo. It all helps add to the charm of the world, making the game build up it’s own personality that sets it apart from the competition.
Worlf of Goo will take you between four to six hours to complete on your first attempt, but that’s not to say you couldn’t sink many more hours into the title. After you finish the main game, you can go back and try to finish the special “OCD” challenge in each level. These include collecting a certain number of goos in a given level or finishing in under a certain amount of time. These challenges will certainly have you scratching your head, and maybe even pulling out your hair on occasion. They’re extremely difficult, and will keep you busy for a very long time. At the end of the game there is also a special area unlocked where you can go and try to build the tallest possible tower of goo. You can see the top scores of other individuals around the world and try to beat their records. You use the extra goo you rescued from the entirety of the game here, which gives you more incentive to go back and try to finish every stage as efficiently as possible. It’s amazing what you can build when you have several hundred goo balls at your disposal. It is a shame though that there is almost no information given about the record holders around the world. The only thing you know about these individuals is their country of origin. This kind of takes some of the thrill out of going for the world record, knowing that no one will ever know it was you. This is most likely a result of Nintendo’s limited online functionality, so it‘s hard to hold this against the game. In the end it’s still a welcome addition.
All of this adds up to an amazing package that’s a steal at only $15. World Of Goo is not only the best WiiWare game to date, it’s one of the best Wii games period. Its simple, addictive gameplay design may be hard to describe, but by the time you finish the first stage, you‘ll realize what all the fuss was about. You owe it to yourself to play this game, even if it means hooking up your Wii for the first time in months. Just do it — you’ll be happy you did.