By accident I found an early gameplay video of 2D Boy’s “World of Goo” last year. I immediately bookmarked the video and would frequently check in on the World of Goo website to see just how much longer I would have to wait before I could play the quirky-looking little game for myself. When I finally got my hands on the title, I was very pleased with what I saw. I waited a long time–and the wait was most-definitely worth it.
World of Goo is a physics-based puzzle game where we get to mess around with silly semi-sentient spheres of ooze. The object of any given level is pretty simple—move as many gooballs from point A to point B as quickly as possible. We can build towers and bridges, break down your towers or bridges, or hoist gooey-pink balloons on top of other, denser oozing inkblots to lift our wobbling structures into the air. Some gooballs can even catch fire and explode.
Tears Of Joy
Though most of the levels are fairly simple, World of Goo offers some refreshingly quirky, downright silly art, with highly addictive gameplay. It’s been a long time since I’ve been so engrossed in playing a game that I lose track of time, so when I looked up from my screen to see three hours passed since I first clicked on the icon, I realized I was playing a classic. World of Goo is an utterly charming adventure that any gamer, or lover-of-fun would be severely remiss in avoiding. It’s not quite perfect, but it manages to capture an element not-often seen in more modern games: it’s a helluva lot of fun.
World of Goo is a one-button game. Because you only need to know how to click and drag the left mouse button, it’s incredibly easy for anyone to jump into a level and figure out the controls. Each level starts with a certain number of gooballs forming a basic shape—they link to each other by rigid goo lines somewhat reminiscent of saliva (which will bend or tear under too much weight) and a pipe somewhere off in the distance. The object of the game is to move the gooballs into the pipe so they can be sucked to freedom. Or into lifetime of indentured servitude. Or really big bottle—the game isn’t too clear on what, exactly, is happening, but that’s okay, because it’s awesome.
To build a shape you click on a moving gooball (they rove about the rigid goo-lines with cartoonish goggle-eyes and foppish grins plastered on their oopy-faces, and drag it to a point outside of the structure where, if you place it correctly, it will shoot out a few lines of goo-stalk to the nearest gooballs. The kicker is that when you place a gooball as part of a structure, that gooball becomes locked in place. When you reach the pipe, only gooballs that are NOT part of the structure will be sucked away. To clear each level players need to suck-up a certain number of gooballs, with point bonuses awarded for sucking up larger quantities of gooballs. Some gooballs can be removed from the structure, others cannot. For the hypercompetitive, 2D Boy maintains an online leader board to display just who in the world has the best score at each particular level.
Once You See It….
As you move your Goo-ladies and Goo-gents around the levels, you’ll be building towers and bridges, which sounds fairly mundane and simple, right? This is where the excellently-implemented phsyics engine comes into play. Towers will droop to the side. Bridges will sag down the middle. Add too much weight, and your structures will collapse into chaotic heaps of confused Goo-lings. Often, you’ll find yourself in a situation where you’ll need to tear down parts of your structer to build new elements in order to reach the finish-pipe. There are different types and colors of gooball that act differently on the environment. The typical black gooball is the simplest form of ooze. These normal gooballs can breath in clean watter—but if they fall into dirty water they’ll drown. Then there are the pink balloon-balls that are lighter than air: attach a balloon to your structure and the balloon-ball will pull everything skyward. There are green gooballs, close cousins of the inky-black gooballs, that are more resilient and can be plucked up from anywhere in the level to be placed anywhere on a goo-structure. There’s a certain degree of strategy involved in choosing which type of gooball to put where, which adds a pleasing bit of variety to the gameplay.
Some levels can even be manipulated by moving certain elements of the terrain—and certain elements of terrain (like spiked wheels of spinning death) will explode any gooball that gets too close. Other levels will see you trying to build a tower on top of a circular platform that will fall to either side if it’s not perfect balanced—and the more weight you add to the top, the faster it will wobble from side to side. Suffice it to say that there are a lot of different elements that effect gameplay, mostly based on the physics engine, that make playing the game a real joy. The physics are a lot of fun to watch in action—there’s little cooler than hooking a bunch of inflated pink goo-balloons to the top of a bridge and raising the hapless gooballs up to a ceiling of stalactites: the poor Goo-balloons pop and the bridge will wobble up and down. If the bridge wobbles too much, one end may douse itself in dirty swamp water, and all of the wet gooballs will drown. And, yes, you can hear their icky little screams.
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