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World of Goo (Nintendo WiiWare) Review
Review by 
8.77/10 from 51 user ratings
The last of the Goo Balls didn't seem to know that they were extremely delicious or about the nature of the smelly pit in which they found themselves. They said something about this being the last level of the first chapter... whatever that means. -the sign painter

Sometimes a game comes along that gets to you in a way you cannot fully explain. You can justify your love for the game, but that justification will seem like it's not quite enough. There is just a "soul", if you will, that can't be explained with words. But you can certainly feel it. For me, the best example of a game like this is World of Goo by indie developer 2D Boy. Here is my best possible attempt at explaining my love for it.

When you first start the game, you see a structure with some goo balls moving around it, and a pipe at the top. A sign in the background says, "drag n' drop to build to the pipe". That is the entire premise of the game. If you've ever created a new folder on your PC desktop and dragged a file into it, you can play World of Goo. Clicking on one of those loose goo balls and placing it in the middle of two edges of the structure (like a triangle) will stick it there, making it part of a now bigger structure. Your objective is to keep making the structure bigger in order to get it from the starting point over to the pipe at the end of the level, and to have a minimum of separate goo balls to spare (specified in the bottom right corner of the screen, and different for each level) which will go inside the pipe, enabling you to beat the level.

That is all you have to do to complete every level. The objective never changes. But, of course, the levels do. They get more and more complex as you progress; the first level simply has you build a small tower that should take you no more than 3 or 4 moves, but later levels have you creating a structure inside a rolling cilinder, across a gap, across clouds, over a windmill that breaks your structure if it comes in contact with it, and many more. The level designs you'll come across ooze imagination and creativity. Not only do the hazards in the levels change, but also the types of goo balls you get to use. At first you only have access to the regular black goo balls, but soon you'll discover white goo balls which can attach to three edges of the structure instead of two, green balls can be detached from the structure to be used again (they're introduced in a very cool level where you must make your structure climb across the narrow opening made by two closed-together walls), yellow goos stick to walls (an example of their usage is an awesome Mario Galaxy-like level where your structure must climb up three rotating wheels. The stickiness of the yellow balls defies gravity!), red goo balls light on fire, balloons help carry balls across the sky (is there a level where you must make your structure climb across clouds in the sky and then make it float thanks to balloons over to a cloud with the pipe? If you answered yes, you're correct), mine goo balls explode, etcetera. All of these are introduced in a level that's built upon them, but then they're mixed with other goo balls for some really inventive puzzles.

That's basically the gist of the gameplay. By now you probably came to the conclusion that this is a pretty damn good puzzle game. But, you think to yourself, that doesn't fully justify all the praise this game gets, all the awards it won, and the insanely glowing recommendation I'm giving it in this review. That's because the gameplay is but a small part of the greatness of the World of Goo experience. And it certainly isn't what makes it shine with magic and originality. That's where everything else comes in.

The graphics are some of the most beautiful on any game, period. The art is spectacular, it reminds me of a "happier" Tim Burton. The worlds look colorful and vibrant, but with a certain "personality" to them. While the art is very cheerful, it also has a very noticeable "darker" tone that you don't find on typical "kiddy" games. There's a perfect balance between both aspects. The textures are so rich and rounded it almost makes you want to eat them, and the goo balls look very cute with their two cartoony eyes; but a structure that's about to be set on fire and explode has a worried, sad look and there's implied tears falling off of it. The whole game is like this.

Like the graphics, the music is very much both bouncing and cheerful, and moody and mysterious. Often a single track can be described with all those adjectives. The music fits the levels perfectly, but it also begs to be listened outside of the game. Like the graphics, this is one of the best soundtracks I've ever heard in a game.

The presentation makes each level of a simple puzzle game feel epic. Within the context of the game, and for what the game is aiming for, I don't see how it could be any better. Of course a AAA full-budget Xbox 360 game has more graphical capacity in a single level than the entire game of World of Goo, and there are infinitely more polygons and detail, not to mention it's in HD; but World of Goo doesn't need that. It needs no more than what it has. More would probably be overwhelming and work against its simplicity. If World of Goo employed a million buttons instead of a simple clicking button and a pointing device, would it be more appealing? If you answered no, you are correct again. You're on a roll. The same can be said for its presentation. Of course this wouldn't be achieved if that simplicity wasn't taken to its maximum level of execution possible. "More than meets the eye" describes World of Goo more than it ever did Transformers.

And then there are all the little touches that make the game feel like it was made by passionate human beings and not by a machine. These are what truly make the game emanate personality. The first and most obvious example of this is the Sign Painter. It's a shaking sign post that has little exclamation marks bouncing off of it. Clicking on it gives you hints on how to proceed through the level, or simply says random (maybe not so random) stuff. But always with a witty and sarcastic style of writing. Like everything else in this game, it's simple, but it sends a powerful message which is easy to receive. There is a level where you must guide a giant woman-looking ball over to the pipe, but there is a pit in the way. There are some goo balls on top of a structure. Your objective is to make that structure bigger therefore heavier, making it break what it's standing on, which makes a spiked wall fall (crushing all the goo balls you just built to their death), so the giant woman ball can make it to the pipe. The bridge looks like it has a red carpet on it, and there are people snapping pictures in the background (you can see the flashes of the cameras only). The Sign Painter says, Smile for the cameras! Oh, everyone's looking so fabolous tonight. Look at her, she looks beautiful. Doesn't she know where she's going? Let's not tell her." - the sign painter

The Sign Painter also works within the story of the game. You're thinking, wait, this game has a story? I thought you said it's a puzzle game? Nice observation, my hypothetical reader. At first it seems like the game doesn't have a story. There are no cutscenes (save for a couple five-second long ones) or character dialogue or anything like that, but, remember, "More than meets the eye". There is a story and it's told through the Sign Painter and other subtleties throughout the levels. The gist of the story is that the goo balls are exploring the land, having fun, and going into these mysterious pipes they find because they look cool. What they don't know is that these pipes are property of the World of Goo Corporation, which aims to collect many goo balls to turn them into products for consumers. They also are in the process of building a "Product Z" which, apparently they have bigger plans for. The story has turns, some subtle and some not so subtle, which I won't spoil, but it's definitely interesting to see, which you can do mainly by observing the levels, watching the cutscenes and reading the Sign Painter. If you pay attention, you'll see two particular phrases appear often in the levels.

Every remaining detail, small as it is is handled with extreme care. The goo balls are round, but get more oval as you wave them in the air, make cute noises when you throw them or when you stick them to a structure, the pipe makes a delicious pouring sound when it's filled with goo, the loading screens are a fast transition through underground pipes, each level has a witty name and an also witty, yet descriptive-of-what-you-have-to-do subtitle, there is even a World of Goo tower mode which has you building a giant tower and is online-enabled (you can see how high other people's towers are on the fly, as you build your own), each world is based on a season (plus an extra one), making them all (even from the map screen) easily distinguishable between one another, etcetera, etcetera. I could literally spend hours talking about these details. But then, you wouldn't feel the same things I did when you first play it for yourself.

Another thing you probably want to know, length. Well, my money-saving capitalist hypothetical reader, like I mentioned there are five worlds, with around ten to fifteen levels each. The whole game takes around 10+ hours to beat. The difficulty is also spot on. Sometimes I got frustrated because some levels were too hard, but they were never unfair, the game is just challenging. And even then, there is a button to skip the level. You get a limited number of skips, but unless you skip pretty much every level (if that's the case, why are you playing?), they're always enough. And the difficulty is evenly spread-out, it's not like the entire first world is a breeze and the fifth world is impossible.

I cannot recommend this game enough. I am so happy it sold as much as it did. Speaking of sales, did I mention it's 15 dollars and available on WiiWare, PC, Mac, Linux, iPad and soon iPhone? You might not like it as much as me, but I guarantee it will be worth the price of admission. Unless I review Pokemon Gold/Silver or Super Mario Galaxy 2, which I don't know if I will because it seems a bit redundant, this is the only 10 you'll ever see me give to a game (so far) (omg spoilers of future reviews omg)


The last of the Goo Balls didn't seem to notice they were in some sort of giant Beauty Pageant Machine. Pretty ones over there, Ugly ones over here. Personally, I think everyone is beautiful. Mostly me. -the devastating sign painter

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Posted: 03/08/11, 23:04:25  - Edited by 
 on: 02/25/13, 05:28:15    
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Woah, epic review!

I second the amazing soundtrack. It's not just the songs as heard in game, it's fully expanded versions. Sometimes techno style. Very, very awesome.

It amazes me that this entire game was done by 2 guys.

Posted by 
 on: 03/08/11, 23:10:02
Really good game, enjoyed playing it in co-op quite a bit. I tried going for some OCD stuff and the early ones were doable. I think it's about time to play this again.

Posted by 
 on: 03/08/11, 23:13:05
Wasn't my cup of tea, but I understand why so many people liked it. It was a little too much thinking-action puzzle for me, and I prefer action-action puzzle (Puzzle League) or thinking-thinking puzzle (Prof. Layton).

I second that it's awesome it was done by just two guys. And developers want us to believe it HAS TO cost hundreds of millions of dollars just to make a good game, with budgets increasing every day. How much of that budget is unnecessary FAT...

Posted by 
 on: 03/08/11, 23:22:31
I liked it, but didn't love it. The graphics are gorgeous. The music is superb. The sly humor is nice. It is very challenging, often brutally so. I finished it, using only one skip (on the second or third to last level). And yet, if I'm putting together my Best of Wii list, I'm sure it's not in my top 5 and am pretty certain it's not in my top 10.

What is it lacking? Maybe a little more variety in game play. As it is, it can be pretty exhausting and I often took a lot of time off from the game.

Is it worth the 1500 Wii points? Absolutely.

Posted by 
 on: 03/08/11, 23:40:43
Haha, you really have a "voice" in your reviews, I like it.

Count me among the people who liked WoG and recognize its quality, yet don't love to play it. At first I thought it was maybe because I felt the pointer controls were inadequate, but then someone gifted me the game and I still haven't fallen in love with the gameplay.

Posted by 
 on: 03/08/11, 23:49:31  - Edited by 
 on: 03/08/11, 23:50:01
I know after nearly two years of posting here that you guys aren't the biggest World of Goo advocates out there (save for maybe Secret_Tunnel and Xbob), that's why I wanted to write this review, mostly.

I see what you're saying, it can be "too much of the same" sometimes. I just didn't really notice it. I guess I like that "same" a lot.

Posted by 
 on: 03/08/11, 23:52:03  - Edited by 
 on: 03/08/11, 23:52:24
Hey I love it! One of my favorite games on the Wii, both to play and to look at/listen to. I would have liked a bit more challenge (on the thinking side), but it was still great.

Posted by 
 on: 03/09/11, 00:06:01
I personally really like this game. One of the best reasons for the WiiWare service, IMHO.

Posted by 
 on: 03/09/11, 00:21:51
Simbabbad said:
Actually my main problem with it is that it's NOT too much of the same. It ramps nicely for the first few levels, and then it throws a new mechanic per level at you and you never get to get deeper into each mechanic like you'd do with, say, Lemmings.

Lemmings is/was freaking awesome. We need a new one.

Posted by 
 on: 03/09/11, 00:40:57
World of Goo is the only game other than Ocarina of Time I'd consider giving a 10 to. Not because it's my second favorite game or anything (though it's definitely in my top five), but because it's just so perfect.

There's also this really cool guy on Youtube who uploaded the whole soundtrack!


Posted by 
 on: 03/09/11, 01:40:08
Secret_Tunnel said:
World of Goo is the only game other than Ocarina of Time I'd consider giving a 10 to. Not because it's my second favorite game or anything (though it's definitely in my top five), but because it's just so perfect.

There's also this really cool guy on Youtube who uploaded the whole soundtrack!

Hell yeah! That took ages because I used Movie Maker back then. I uploaded a Pokemon OCRemix album the other day but it was much faster now thanks to iMovie
Pandareus said:
Haha, you really have a "voice" in your reviews, I like it.
Thanks! It's more fun for me to write that way.

Posted by 
 on: 03/09/11, 01:49:21
Excellent game. I had a lot of fun with the game's mechanics. Though I don't rank the game as high as you do, there's definitely a lot to admire in the game's visuals, music, and point-and-click controls.

You also touched on and were seemingly more aware of the story than I ever was. I could definitely see there was some sort of build-up as the game progresses, what with the goo balls, the sign painter, and the Corporation, but I didn't appreciate all its aspects.

Also, I do appreciate your review writing style Gelatinous. I haven't found my own style yet, I tend to get too technical with my reviews and, even though I write them in a vacuum, when I check out other reviews I realize my own review does not stand out too much on its own.

And I appreciate your attempt to put into words why you enjoyed the game so much, you pulled it off.

ahh, I 'appreciate' a lot

Posted by 
 on: 03/09/11, 03:00:20
I am in your catagory GE, I've always thought that words cannot describe the awesomness of World of Goo but I have to say you have done a pretty bang up job here.

I commend you fine sir.

You can also download the soundtrack here for free

Posted by 
 on: 03/09/11, 11:28:19  - Edited by 
 on: 03/09/11, 11:33:54
@warerare Thanks for that link, ware. I downloaded it a while ago but I lost the link since then.

Posted by 
 on: 03/09/11, 15:08:13
Warerare, too cool. Thanks. I "dusted off" World of Goo last night because of this thread and was just thinking that the S/T would be nice to listen to when not playing.

I exploded and then re-built my tower of goo balls up to about 15 meters last night, and then started a new save file and blitzed through the first chapter. That toad level is still brutal even after having done it three or four times.

Posted by 
 on: 03/09/11, 17:50:56  - Edited by 
 on: 03/09/11, 17:52:04
Put me in the h8rz category. Except I don't hate it. I just don't see what people love so much about it. Aside from the music and overall charm.

I really should try to finish it off, though. I was enjoying it while I played.

Posted by 
 on: 03/09/11, 18:00:06
Best thing on Wiiware! I am trying to get all my friends with iStuff to play it.

Posted by 
 on: 03/09/11, 23:00:41
@Simbabbad It's really going to nag at you though isn't it? And you can't do anything about it anymore, bwa ha ha ha. Maybe I'll leave it.

Just kidding. I'll fix it.

Posted by 
 on: 03/10/11, 01:22:25
Definitely a fantastic game. Nice review!

Posted by 
 on: 03/10/11, 02:42:39
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