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World of Goo

I learned about this game from 2D Boy from a couple of Ars Technica articles, the one about the game itself, the other about how crackers are shamelessly ripping it off.

No matter: The game did very, very well in reviews and proved to be an award-winner. And, to the intense satisfaction of the two guys who are 2D Boy, the game aroused the frustration of the big toffs of Electronic Arts, their former employer, whose own games have been eclipsed by World of Goo — for which EA's cookie-cutter games and paranoid digital-rights management, not 2D Boy, are largely to blame.

Anyway, here is what the game is all about:

World of Goo is a physics based puzzle / construction game. The millions of Goo Balls who live in the beautiful World of Goo don't know that they are in a game, or that they are extremely delicious.

The game has five chapters which tell something of a story. In all of them, the player must guide a minimum number of balls of Goo to an intake pipe. The player does this by building bridges, towers, and other constructs, taking gravity into account while building, and avoiding pits, gears, blades, spikes or other nasty things that can break the Goo. Any Goo balls above the minimum are pumped to the World of Goo Corporation™, where the player can build towers with them and even compete with other players from all over the world.

A Walkthrough, showing how to play the game.

A Goo ball works by sending out bounds of attraction when the player drags it near an already bounded pair or trio of balls. Releasing the ball forms bonds with the neighboring balls. For ordinary Goo balls, once that is done the bonds are permanent: The balls can never be removed or reach the intake pipe. There are other types of Goo which can be pulled off and reused. There are also balls that float, ignite, explode, stick like glue to any surface and even resist popping when striking a surface.

Types of Goo.

Watch out for those nasty surfaces, and take care to conserve your Goo. If any falls into a pit, or hits spikes or gears, or goes into fire, that's it. You've lost the Goo. Fortunately, all is not lost. There are a limited number of special time bugs, bright balls with eyes and wings. Zapping one reverses one move, and can be a life-saver when a move turns out to be a sui generis disaster. If it gets too bad, you can redo a level. You can even skip a level and return to it later.

Helpful (but often oblique) hints on what to do at each level are provided by the Sign Painter, whose signs appear on every level. There are also occasional signs in the distance — billboards with two big eyes — with messages from MOM. You do not (or, rather, I do not) find out who MOM is until later in the game.

Written by Andy West on 1 February 2009.