World of Goo

I’m a very fussy gamer, often owning consoles only for one or two games, and often abandoning games to ebay after about 30 minutes or so if it fails to entertain or show signs of promise. I’ve recently abandoned such critically-acclaimed gems as Shadow of the Colossus and Final Fantasy XII, and I’m giving serious consideration to giving up on Dragon Quest on the DS, despite having eagerly waited for it for months and only being three hours in. I’m tempted by Chrono Trigger, also on the DS, despite knowing deep-down that I’ll probably play it for five hours over the space of a fortnight and then forget all the controls. I’m about six hours into Okami with perhaps another 50 to go, and despite being an utterly beautiful and joyful game, the notion that I may not be putting the final thing into the thing until fucking April fills me with dread.

So with all that in mind, I hope you’ll understand the gravity of the following statement: World of Goo is one of the best games I’ve played in about a decade.

It’s a simple little thing, based upon Tower of Goo, an experimental PC game in which you must take balls of goo and stick them together to build as high as possible before it wobbles over into oblivion, World of Goo expands upon this with different species of ball – sticky, reusable, drippy, explosive, flammable, etc. – and tasks you with creating a construct that will get your goo balls from one point of the screen to another. Essentially it’s Lemmings with goo balls instead of rodents.

The presentation of the game is fantastic, with a Danny Elfman-style score and a Burtonesque look and feel. The attention to detail goes right down to the balls of goo themselves, each one chirpy and vocal and stuffed with personality. In just a few days time I’ve played the game more than most of the full-price boxed games I bought last year. The thought of spending a few hours with World of Goo is a lot more appealing than the thought of spending a few hours grinding my way a little further into an overblown RPG.

I introduced the game to a few friends over new year and it went down well, apart from with Thom, but that’s ok because Thom only really likes cheese and red wine. Mostly we all found it addictive, challenging but not punishing, and a little bit freaky in places where the goo balls turn into giant lady faces with dead eyes and large lips. It’s not really a party game – there is a multiplayer mode of dubious value, where up to four players can participate on the same level when what would have been preferable would have been a Puyo-Puyo-style competitive mode – but it’s very watchable, particularly when somebody is struggling on a level you already solved and you can sit being quietly smug as they make all the same mistakes you made.

It’s available on the Wii (under Wiiware in the Wii Shop) and on the PC and Mac for modest sums. You should all go and get it now.