App Review: World of Goo

Developed by 2D BOY, World of Goo (iTunes link), $9.99 USD (currently on sale for $4.99), is a physics-based puzzle game in which the player must lead a group of Goo Balls into a pipe and out of the level. World of Goo has already been a huge hit with its Windows, Mac and Wii versions. Being the year’s most anticipated iPad game, does it live up to all the hype that it’s received prior to its release? Well, here are my thoughts.

Gameplay and Controls

Before discussing the game’s Gameplay & Controls, I will first briefly talk about my first experience with World of Goo. I had originally played this on my Mac and it was a great game. However, I never played it a lot or got addicted because of the controls. The main reason why I stopped playing it was that I played it on a laptop and I should also mention that I don’t use a mouse. So playing World of Goo, or any other game, is very troublesome if you plan on using a trackpad.

Unlike the PC, Mac and Wii versions, the iPad version of World of Goo has excellent controls. I’m not saying that the PC, Mac and Wii versions have horrible controls; I’m just saying that they don’t feel as natural as the iPad version. As one of the creators of World of Goo, Ron Carmel has said that the Wiimote and the mouse are tools used to manipulate what your finger cannot touch. But thanks to the iPad’s touchscreen, this can now be done.

To control Goo Balls, it is as simple as dragging and dropping them with your finger. This control system isn’t very different from the other versions of the game, but since we are now able to use our fingers, the control system has a very natural and a very intuitive feel to it. You can also use multiple fingers to control multiple Goo Balls, which can be very helpful in many cases. This was not possible in the other versions of the game, for obvious reasons.

Like I had stated earlier, the objective of this game is to lead a group of Goo Balls to a pipe and out of the level. To do this, the player must construct a series of structures, from bridges (Figure 1) to towers, to allow the Goo Balls to pass a series of obstacles, from spikes to cliffs, so that they can reach the end of the level. The gameplay is very simple, very fun and quite challenging. Though, it does get to the point where it is so challenging that it becomes frustrating.

Figure 1: A bridge to lead the Goo Balls to the end of the level

Gameplay and Controls Score: ★★★★★

Presentation and Graphics

When I first launched World of Goo, after the loading and developer’s screen, I was presented with the main menu. Though at first, I didn’t know it was the main menu. After setting my profile, I was hesitant because I was waiting for the screen to change so that I could begin playing. But to my surprise, I realized that that was the main menu. After that initial bump on the road, the menu becomes quite simple.

The first things you may notice on the main menu, besides the title of the game in huge letters, are the two buttons on the bottom right. The first button is the Profiles button. You can set a total of three profiles, which is quite nice. When you hold your finger on one of the profiles, it’ll display the number of Goo Balls that you’ve collected and the amount of time that you’ve spent playing the game. The second button is the Credits, which obviously displays all the names of the people who worked on the game and what they did.

To begin playing, you must first select the chapter that you wish to play. By running your finger along the big, black World of Goo, you will be able to select a chapter (Figure 2). If you’re playing for the first time, you will only have access to Chapter 1, for obvious reasons. As you complete chapters, the other 4 chapters will become available as well. After selecting the appropriate chapter, you will be presented with the map of that particular chapter. This interface is very simple to understand. You will first notice, what appears to be, a ball of goo on the ground (Figure 3). Selecting the first one will allow you to play the first level. As you complete levels, more balls of goo will appear on the ground until there is no more space, which means that you can begin the next chapter.

Figure 2: Main menu with Chapter 1 selected

Figure 3: The balls of goo on the ground represent each level of Chapter 1

Presentations and Graphics Score: ★★★★★


World of Goo contains a number a tracks that fit perfectly with the game. The World of Goo soundtrack, which can be downloaded here, includes a total of 27 different tracks (Figure 4). The track that is used during a level depends on the level itself. For a more fast-paced level, the track used would be more upbeat, whereas in a slower level, a calmer track would be used. This obviously could just be coincidental, but it was something that I noticed in the levels that I’ve played.

Figure 4: The World of Goo soundtrack

The sound effects are done very well. From the burning of a fireplace to the shrieks of the little Goo Balls, everything is done in great detail. The only thing that seems to be missing is an option to change the volume of the sound effects or background music. Some people may not want to hear the background music because they may just want to listen to the sound effects, but there doesn’t seem to be a way to personalize the audio output, which, in my opinion, is needed in any game.

Audio Score: ★★★★½

Replay Value

A game’s replay value is, in my opinion, one of the most important components of a game. Not only do I want a game that is fun and has great controls, but I also want a game that’ll keep me coming back for more. World of Goo contains a total of 5 chapters. I personally haven’t finished this game, but from what I have heard, there are approximately 12-13 levels in each chapter. This is a fair amount of levels, but compared to other puzzle games with 100-150 levels, the amount of levels may seem small.

Even after completing all the levels, there still is some incentive to continue playing. There are several Game Center achievements that the player may want to complete (Figure 5). Some of these achievements require the player to complete levels’ OCD (Obsessive Completion Distinction) criteria, such as within a certain amount of time, within a certain number of moves or by collecting a certain amount of Goo Balls (Figure 6).

Figure 5: World of Goo’s Game Center achievements

Figure 6: The OCD criteria for a level

Although completing all the achievements would be quite difficult, if someone were to complete everything, then they will most likely feel no incentive to launch the game again. Though this isn’t specific to World of Goo; like all games, if someone were to do everything that they can possibly do within said game, then they will most likely never play it again.

Replay Value Score: ★★★★

Value For Money

After having discussed the gameplay, controls, graphics and replay value, is it worth the hefty price tag? I personally don’t think it is. It definitely is a great game, but for the amount of levels and lack of replay value, I think that the asking price of $9.99 is a little much. I do wish that they would add some more levels, but from what I’ve read, 2D BOY will not be adding new levels nor will they be making a sequel, which is quite disappointing to hear.

Value for Money Score: ★★★½

Overall Score:

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