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World of Goo - hands-on

With a name like "World of Goo" and a genre that rests somewhere around puzzle game/construction sim/physics lesson, it's perfectly normal to approach this fledging WiiWare title with reservations. However, our fears quickly melted away like the game's own oily black goo once we had a proper sit down and understood just how addicting linking inky blobs together could be.

The premise, like any good puzzle game, is simple - you need to guide a certain number of blobs across increasingly treacherous terrain. The catch (something else every good puzzler needs) is that the blobs have to stay connected like a giant matrix, so you have to literally build them across the stage. Grab one blob with the remote, move him outside the lattice yet still close enough to latch on the rest of his buddies and so on. Eventually you'll find a pipe that sucks up the goo and moves it to the next stage. Later you learn that the pipe connects to the World of Goo Corporation, a benign-yet-ominous overseer that uses the goo for drinks, cosmetics and, ahem, personal lubricants. Basically, a mix of Mom's Friendly Robot Company and Slurm of Futurama fame.

If it were just a matter of linking blobs together, there wouldn't be much of a challenge, would there? That's where the physics porn comes in - your various goo creations will behave as a real-world object, bending, falling and teetering depending on their height and length. One early level had us balancing a goo-bridge out a frog's gaping mouth, with spikes lining the ceiling and floor. If we made the bridge too long, it started to droop and touch the spikes, killing all our precious goo. That's where pink blobs (balloons, more or less) come into play, and with proper placement, we used them to levitate key areas of the bridge until the end-of-level pipe appeared.

Now this one level, once properly mastered, only takes a minute or so, but it's just one of 10 levels in the chapter - no word on how many chapters there will be yet. We do know though that there are even more blob types as the levels go on, one of which is the ivy blob that can be attached and removed an infinite number of times, making them a little more versatile than the black blobs yet troublesome because you only have so many. Our favorite moment at the end of chapter one involved the ivy blobs too - we built them vertically, out of something's stomach, until the throat muscles grabbed the grassy matrix and vomited it upward, where two pink balloons carried it off to the next area.

Sounds weird, huh? We have to admit, part of Goo's allure comes from the environment and twisted layout. It really feels like LocoRoco as re-imagined by Tim Burton (Danny Elfman-esque music to match) with some nerdy physics assignments tucked away. A weird subject and execution, but definitely one of the brighter WiiWare stars we've seen. Consider us pre-emptive fans when the game (2D Boy's first) finally arrives.

Apr 14, 2008

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