World Of Goo
To this day we still don’t know what that pot of gelatinous green stuff was made of; the gunk all children should have come into contact with by the age of eight via a trip to the joke shop, a playground prank or Halloween trick-or-treating. But we wouldn’t be surprised if this amorphous lump of squidgy stuff was the inspiration for 2DBoy’s World Of Goo. The two have a lot in common after all: they’re squishy, cheap, accessible and have the capacity to entertain for hours on end. They’re non-toxic and suitable for children, too.
What ‘Pot-o-goo’ doesn’t have that World Of Goo oozes is subtle nostalgic influences from several granddaddies of the games industry. World Of Goo heralds from a timeless age of puzzle games – Lemmings and Worms are in there, and stepping away from the PC platform there’s definitely more than a hint of LocoRoco going on. The idea of the game is to stick a limited number of goo balls together until the resulting structure is within reach of an open pipe, which will then suck your remaining goo balls away. To complete the level and move onto the next you must save a certain number of balls, but as ever with the best puzzlers, the simplicity of the concept disguises the sophistication and difficulty of the game.
Driving the two-dimensional extravaganza, cutesy goo-goo noises and retro puzzle concept, there’s a seriously sophisticated game mechanic with physics easily worthy of the ‘next-generation’ moniker. Your construction, be it bridge, tower or Brunelian brain-fart, will both look and act like the blueprint for an architect’s reject. Build it too tall or wide or apply too many goo balls to one side and it will collapse somewhat unpredictably under the weight. There’s a certain inherent flexibility in the bonds between the balls too, so any large construction will sway perilously, especially in the strong breezes in some of the levels.
Naturally, 2DBoy has taken advantage of this mechanic and made a variety of different goo balls to mix and match. Depending on the level, you’ll have access to standard black balls that form permanent bonds, detachable green balls, teardrop transparent balls, tri-bond albino balls and a myriad of other species of balls besides. You’ll have to work to the strengths of each species to bridge the space between your starting point and the pipe, which sometimes means racing ahead to overcome the physics that will inevitably bring your Babelian tower crashing down.
The stroke of genius comes with the online leaderboard, though. Not only can hardcore players replay each level in an effort to achieve the OCD Challenge criteria (either rescuing a minimum number of balls or completing the level in a certain time), but there’s the Corporation mode too. Every ball you rescue beyond the minimum threshold for completion is collected into this competitive mode, where the idea is simply to build the tallest tower possible, competing against people from across the globe whose towers are represented by small clouds. The single-player mode might be short-lived, but take World Of Goo online and you’ve got an excellent distraction from any big budget release this year.