World of Goo (WiiWare) - Review by Chris
Nintendo's WiiWare service has seen a steady influx of titles over the year that it has been running and has provided some truly fantastic titles for gamers to tackle. It's also allowed indie developers to flourish, giving them the opportunity to get their games on to the market without all the troubles that come as a result of publishing and marketing. So here we have another example of an independent developer, in this case it being 2D Boy, creating a new intellectual property for the WiiWare service that wouldn't normally have gotten a look in on store shelves.
World of Goo is a physics based puzzle title which has been co-developed for the Steam download system on the PC and Nintendo's WiiWare service by developers 2D Boy. What is immediately remarkable about the title and its gameplay is that it has been developed at its highest point by 3 people. This is not overly unusual for an indie developer but the end product is so polished and innovative you would be forgiven for thinking that this had been developed by Nintendo themselves. Gameplay constitutes creating bridges or other structure from the use of goo balls to help other goo balls traverse from one area of a level to the exit pipe at the other. It's an incredibly simple premise that remains constant throughout the title yet slight changes in the way in which you have to go about achieving this make for a truly fantastic title.
The goal is always the same: get a certain number of goo balls to the exit pipe. There is no time limit or set number of moves you have to complete it in but these are logged so that you can come back and try and improve on them later. But as mentioned, the way in which you reach your goal is different across all levels. In some, you'll be tasked to build a bridge to span a wide chasm or a floor of spikes whereas in later missions you'll be tasked with using the gravity of a spherical object to slingshot goo balls round to the exit pipe. The immediate simplicity of the title soon shows an incredible amount of depth and complexity that increases at a steady rate and when new mechanics are introduced, such as flammable goo balls or sticky goo balls, you're eased into their working before resuming the steady gradient of difficulty. And difficult the game becomes because later levels will have you constantly reaching for the flies which hover around the stages that allow you to go back one move and try again from there or use the retry button. Yet the difficulty is never a turn off because the way in which 2D Boy have developed the title, in making feel like one of Nintendo's own, means that if you fail in an attempt to reach your goal you'll always immediately want to try again. It's a feeling that few WiiWare titles garner and it's even something that retail releases rarely manage to fit into the gameplay.
The game is split into 5 acts, each containing a varying number of stages with some bringing in new mechanics and others simply asking you to use your brain and a little common sense to complete the task. The actual physics of the title make for some interesting times because you're constantly worried about the structure you're building and whether or not you should sacrifice that one last goo ball just to provide an extra bit of stability knowing that you won't get as many of the goos to the goal. It's a truly innovative mechanism into this kind of puzzle title and I'd wholly welcome it in others.
The game has been developed for the PC and WiiWare service for one specific reason: the controls. Both platforms provide that immediate control over everything that is happening in the game. The Wii-mote does this by the use of the pointer and the A button to select you goo balls. It's a very simple control scheme that anyone and everyone will be able to get to grips with after a short period of time with the title and shows great use of the Wii-mote's features.
The title boasts a Tim Burton-esque visual style that really looks fantastic, not just for a WiiWare title. The graphics are all hand drawn and it looks as though it's a work of art on a piece of canvas. It exudes a charm and innocence that is normally reserved for Nintendo's own titles and as such, it really does feel like one of theirs which is a huge compliment to the work of 2D Boy and bodes well for their future titles if this is the kind of work that they are capable of producing. Cutscenes further this feeling, pushing the Burton-esque vibe with the strange bug-eyed characters and their crude animated style, which isn't a short coming as it adds to the humour of the cutscenes. We've seen some fantastic examples of what developers can pull off in terms of graphics on the service and this title stands up there as an example of what can be and should be done.
The title doesn't ever let up in impressing you. Like the graphics, the music that accompanies the game is could easily have come from a Nintendo title. It's soothing and melodic and really suits the style of gameplay, being faster paced for those stages which require you to work in a more frantic measure and resuming the melodic tunes when things are more laid back. The sound effects of the goo balls are also interesting, being very cute, short sound clips as they are thrown about or being awoken by moving goos. It adds another level to the game's sound but with such a good soundtrack playing in the background, it can be slightly annoying especially if you just want to listen along to that. But that's a very minor point that really holds no bearing on the game overall.
So, a title that was already being hailed by many before it was released has lived up to the hype and turned out to be one of the best games on the Wii, including retail released titles. Incorporating innovative gameplay, beautiful graphics and sumptuous music, this is a fantastic example of the kind of titles that the WiiWare service should be getting and stands as a wakeup call to those lazy developers releasing shovelware to retail. At 1500 points, it may seem a little expensive but what you get is evidently worth so much more as the title could easily have been released as a full retail title and it'd still have been worth the money. A must for any Wii owner.
Pro: Innovative gameplay, beautiful graphics and music, perfect controls.
Con: There are none really.
Final score: 9.4