I must confess, World of Goo slipped under my radar when it was first released back in October 2008. As a gamer, it can be tough to keep up with all of the new releases in a given week and harder still to play them all. These days, though, it’s hard not to notice 2D Boy’s E-rated, 1500 point, physics-based puzzle game. After all, IGN.com recently named it their 2008 Nintendo Wii Game of the Year, and Eurogamer ranked it among the 10 best games of the past year for any system. It’s rare to see a low-cost downloadable game created by a small development team get so much good press. It was definitely an eye opener, so I recently set out to see what all the hype was about.
Gameplay (5 out of 5)
Like so many great games before it, World of Goo features deceptively simple yet addictive gameplay. The ultimate goal in each of the five main chapters of the game is to build various structures using balls of goo. The goo spheres connect to each other in a typically triangular fashion, with each ball connecting with two or three others to form a new structure. The game relies heavily upon the principles of physics, so you always need to make sure that you have a firm foundation or else your structure will come crashing down and all your hard work will be for naught. Furthermore, different colored goo balls behave differently when set. For example, the red ones inflate like balloons and can raise structures into the air and the clear ones are like water drops that hang down. It can be quite challenging and even frustrating at times, but it’s also immensely addictive. It will royally tick you off, but that won’t keep you from coming back and trying again and again. In addition to the main game, there is also a side game called the World of Goo Corporation. The goal is to build as tall a tower as possible using the extra goo balls you collect throughout the main chapters.
Controls (4 out of 5)
World of Goo uses the Wiimote alone to control things, and in many ways it acts like a mouse in this game. You move the remote around to relocate the cursor and press and hold either the A or B button to pick up a goo ball. Then you move it around to the desired location and release the A-button to attach it to your structure. While it is easy to pick up and learn, it doesn’t always feel as precise as one would like it to be. It’s too easy to wind up putting the goo ball in the wrong place because of a slight hand-twitch. It’s not annoying enough to really hamper my enjoyment of the game, but it is nonetheless a noteworthy issue.
Graphics and Sound (4 out of 5)
Because of the nature of the game, the small development team and the size limitations of WiiWare files, World of Goo uses stylized graphics that actually work quite well. The game has a charming, hand-drawn look to it. Musically, the game features an impressive soundtrack that walks the line between an epic orchestral feel and a cartoony one. The title screen song, for example, sounds like something fresh out of The Nightmare Before Christmas. Along with the impressive tunes, the sound effects caught my fancy, especially the cheery sounds of the goo balls themselves, which are reminiscent of the Pikmin characters or the cast of de Blob. It isn’t technically impressive, but the game does look and sound appealing enough, especially considering it’s a downloadable title.
Overall Rating (5 out of 5)
Ultimately, World of Goo is an incredibly fun game, but is it the best Wii game of 2008? Truthfully, no, I don’t believe it is. While it is an immensely addictive puzzle game, the controls are a little touchy at times and the game can occasionally grow frustrating. Also, because it is a WiiWare title, it doesn’t really have the depth or longevity of a retail release like Super Smash Bros. Brawl or Mario Kart Wii. In my opinion, World of Goo just comes up short against games like those, and it really isn’t head and shoulders above Tetris Party or Mega Man 9 among 2008 WiiWare releases either. Download it, but make sure you temper your expectations first. World of Goo isn’t the Game of the Year, but it is definitely a thoroughly enjoyable puzzle title.