|System: Wii (WiiWare)||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: 2D Boy||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: 2D Boy||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 12, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Upon launch earlier this year, one of the most promising aspects of Nintendo's WiiWare service was its potential to provide support to independent development efforts on a major gaming console. Indie developers often get far less credit than they deserve. Their ideas and projects contribute greatly to the rich lifeblood flowing through the gaming community, but it's the big budget blockbuster hits that often get the most attention and praise. All of this is about to change, with the release of 2D Boy's runaway smash World of Goo.
Though the bulk of the work on World of Goo was done by a core team of two individuals (who also happen to be former EA employees), it's easily the most impressive WiiWare offering to date. That's not hyperbole; it's a testament to what a little offbeat artistic creativity and a few like-minded individuals with a passion for coding can accomplish. It proves amazing games don't always require tremendous budgets and large development teams to pull off. Forget all of the hype you've previously heard. 2D Boy's WiiWare debut far exceeds any and all expectations.
The framework on which World of Goo's immensely absorbing realm of physics-based puzzle weirdness is built is deceptively simple. Small blobs of living goo must be snatched up and placed together to construct all manner of unwieldy scaffolding. These flexibly jiggling mounds and towers act as a play structure to masses of bustling goo, which must travel along their girth to reach drainage pipes located at the end of each level. You'll frequently have to make efficient use of your gooey structure designs, since a minimum number of the little blobs must remain intact to be sucked up into the pipe to proceed. It sounds easy, and it is at first, but the game continually introduces new inventive ideas and obstacles that ingeniously build on concepts laid out in previous levels. Also, gravity can either wreak havoc with your plans or prove helpful, depending on your particular approach to a level. Layer upon layer of clever innovation is thrown into the mix as the challenges progress, making for some tricky and extremely clever puzzles.
What initially appears to be a straightforward series of puzzles quickly evolves into a very strange story. The tale is a little too peculiar to try to quantify, but it packs equal parts wit, social commentary, and dark humor into its winding girth. While brief cutscenes in between some levels help connect the dots, much of the narrative comes in the form of messages scattered throughout each level by a mysterious character called the Sign Painter. The signs add a surprising amount of personality to the different settings, often offering a humorous perspective, and give subtle clues on ways to accomplish your mission.
Perhaps even more crucial than the warped story is the way it meshes spectacularly with the highly stylish visuals and the spot-on audio to create a deep and seamless interactive realm that draws you in further with each passing moment. World of Goo is set in a delightfully twisted and colorful world featuring a decidedly Tim Burton-esque flavor. It's creepy at some moments and playful at others. Realistic sound effects increase the fun of interacting with objects. Background music ranges broadly to suit each level. It can be funky and hip, tense and ominous, and dramatically pretty at different times. This all comes together in just the right way to deliver an unbeatable presentation.
Word of Goo's level designs ooze a similar brilliance. Crossing expansive ravines, navigating dangerously spike-filled corridors, working your way through the intestines of a nasty beast, floating high in the sky tethered to balloons, and blowing frantically close to whirling windmills are some of the many situations your gooey pals will find themselves in. The creativity injected into each level is off the charts. Rarely are any design concepts repeated, and in the few instances where they are, other elements are brought in to make it a fresh playthrough. As you progress deeper into the game, you'll grow to appreciate the unusual and inventive way each new level comes together. Gameplay doesn't get stale in any of the games 40+ levels. The difficulty increases exponentially, but each new hurdle is a joy to tackle. An option to skip a limited number of levels and another that lets you take back a finite number of moves within a level keeps things from getting too frustrating when the going gets tough.