(DSiWare)

Goony (DSiWare)

Game Review

Goony Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Mike Mason

You jelly?

Aside offerings such as I Must Run!, there haven't been a huge number of endless runner-style games on DSiWare. CIRCLE Entertainment's latest title, Goony, aims to fill that gap a little, while also proving that you don't necessarily need legs or a baffling amount of stamina to star in the genre – if you're a creature made of jelly, you can simply hurl yourself down a hill to similar effect.

Unlike the dozens of endless runners that trail left to right or into the screen, in Goony you cascade towards the bottom of the screen, tumbling down an isometric Q*bert-like pyramid of blocks that goes on forever and ever. You switch direction with left and right on the D-Pad to avoid enemies, prevent yourself from falling off the edge of the hill and to snatch up alluring golden coins. Your aim is to survive for as long as possible, with one point added to your score for every step you take down the board.

Perhaps "runner" isn't the most accurate term here, since you're actually a gelatinous creature that slopes about like a Slinky, flopping and stretching down to the next block. If Goony hits an enemy it devolves into a bouncy ball, while a further tap reduces it to a none-too-attractive pile of goop that hops in slightly less convincing fashion. One more smack and it's back to the top of the tower for another go. A sojourn off the side of the stage instantly sends you straight back to the start.

Helpful green balls reside on some blocks, however, that can prevent a premature end to your efforts. Grasping one bumps you back up an evolutionary stage, and if you're already in full-powered Slinky form you temporarily transform into a much more impressive toy plane or UFO, rising above the play field for a quick soar and some easy points.

The diagonally-placed blocks force you to think slightly ahead; if you want to get to a certain place, you need to have moved into an appropriate position a step or two ahead of time, as you can't hop sideways on the same level of the structure. It's a clever set up, and it soon becomes second nature. Once you get more confident, you can also move Goony faster by holding down a directional button for longer.

The scrolling speed increases gradually the more you play, so survival becomes more difficult with each passing moment. The ground becomes more irregular too, the wide paths narrowing into tiny bridges of blocks that have to be navigated carefully. Combined with ever-more enemies, Goony can get tough after those first few hundred points; because attempts usually only last a short while, it's extremely easy to have half a dozen more goes than you originally intended. It's challenging but doesn't feel particularly unbalanced; it's simple to pick up and swift to encourage you to play again.

In fact, more than anything it sometimes feels as if you're being given a slightly unfair advantage. By collecting the coins that litter the field, you earn the chance to get a boost at the beginning of a new go. We've not figured out the exact science of this, as the number of coins you've collected is never displayed, but from what we can gather, if you grab ten or more shiny discs before perishing you get a jump start that chucks you partway down the hill in a golden boulder. This kickstarts your scoring, and it seems that you're flung forward much further if you've collected loads of coins in your previous turn. We've seen ourselves lobbed hundreds of points into the fray after a successful prior attempt.

It's a mechanic that at once feels slightly cheap but also rather satisfying. You're essentially rewarded for doing well in the immediate past, and to be awarded a few hundred points immediately also helps soften the blow when you've just slumped off the edge of the map at the frantic 900 point mark. It's a smart tactic that sneakily pokes at you to play more, but we wish it was a bit more transparent or could be disabled to ensure a consistent challenge – there's clearly some logic behind it somewhere, but it comes across as random.

Your current score is displayed in the top left corner of the screen, while the overall high score is shown in the top right. There are no leaderboards, so there's only a single score ever saved; it's disappointing, but sufficient for a game that's all about quick, short play sessions. To further that goal, there's not even a traditional title screen; there's an ever-present static image with the title, artwork and company information on the top screen, but as soon as the game is loaded you can press the D-Pad and get started right away. Such a straightforward approach is a pleasant surprise.

Developer Moragami goes above and beyond what we'd expect of a budget endless runner in its implementation of a couple of lesser-used DSiWare features. You can take an in-game screenshot at any time with a click of the Select button, which is then saved to the SD card as a .bmp file and can thus be transferred to your computer and shared with the whole wide world.

Then there's a block customisation tool that lets you paint the ground however you see fit; it's an entirely aesthetic feature that adds nothing to the gameplay, but it's nice to see all the same. You can paint all three visible sides of the cubes individually, or wipe out the boundaries of the blocks altogether to make the play area appear more flat, though this doesn't affect play at all; you still move in the same way. It's possible to pause and adjust the ground mid-game, and with 24 save spaces for blocks there's plenty of room for experimentation.

Impressively, each creation generates a QR code that can be saved to the SD card as a .bmp and .avi file. Send it out onto the internet at large and others can scan the code and receive your brick design in their game. We suspect there may be some unfortunate region locking at play, however, as we tried scanning some from our forums and received errors in return. We were able to successfully make our own, copy to PC and re-scan back into our game, though.

There's also a splitscreen multiplayer race mode that's a heap of fun. Two players use a single console, one taking command of the D-Pad and the left side of the bottom screen, the other controlling their own Goony on the right side of the screen with the Y and A face buttons. The aim is simple: charge to the finish line as quickly as possible.

There are no enemies or coins, but as you play more the courses do randomise, becoming tighter and more difficult. If you fall off the edges, you respawn where you fell and carry on, the race only ending when one person has reached the bottom. It boils down to whoever can keep up a fast pace consistently, and we enjoyed the frantic pace quite a lot. The game tracks number of wins per player on each side of the screen, but there's no centralised record screen, much like the solo mode, nor different rules to play with.

Arcade games are clearly a big inspiration for Goony: the visuals, down to big-eyed characters, resemble coin-op titles, albeit through an Amiga filter. The backgrounds are bland and enemy animation is poor, but Goony's movement is smooth. Where the presentation really shines is the music – it's a single brilliant track, a jazzy, old-school arcade-style ditty that loops endlessly and bores into your mind.

Conclusion

Goony borrows level layout ideas from Q*bert and combines them with the addictive nature of endless runners, resulting in a somewhat unique entry in the genre. The inclusion of block editing, screenshot and QR code functions is welcome, while the multiplayer mode is a great way to pass a few minutes. It's perhaps slightly too simple to keep you involved for more than twenty minutes at a time, its score saving is limited and there's little to no explanation of some of its mechanics, but as an easy to access pick up and play title, Goony is a success.

Update: A patch has been released for Goony since release. This has changed the game in the following ways:

  • If you have installed the game before the update, you will need to delete and re-download it to use the multiplayer mode.
  • QR codes are no longer region locked.
  • The coin system has been made more transparent; numbers count down every ten coins that you collect.
  • Life is now restored whenever you collect ten coins; the green balls have been removed.
  • Small obstacles, such as oil spills that slow you down, have been added.
  • Minor presentation changes; the music and some animations have been updated.

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Game Trailer

User Comments (24)

ph0x

#4

ph0x said:

Hi guys. The developer here.
Just want to let you know that the QR Code issue is something we are aware of and are currently working with Nintendo to resolve the issue. Most probably this will happen in the form of a game update.
The issue being that currently QR Codes generated with the EU version of the game cannot be scanned with the US version of the game and vice versa.
It is not a region locking thing, we want the QR Codes to work universally.
Will keep you posted, stay tuned.

Flowerlark

#5

Flowerlark said:

As soon as I saw this in the e-shop last thurs, I thought of Q*Bert. I never could get into Q*Bert back in the day, and other than Bird Mania, I'm not much of an endless runner person, so I'll pass. At least Circle finally did a decent game.

Blue_Yoshi

#6

Blue_Yoshi said:

Hmmm this sounds interesting. I used to love playing Q*Bert and I like the nature and concept of the game. I really want to pick it up but I feel like I'll only play it a few times and never go back to it because there's just too many games I have that have way more depth to them. If only there was a story mode or online leaderboards I'd might pick it up. If its like 99 cents I'll probably give it a shot. Really love the atmosphere of the game I might def give it a shot at some point.

C-Olimar

#7

C-Olimar said:

@ph0x You can update DSiWare? Interesting...

I'll probably get this at some point. It seems pretty cool.

Luigi_is_better

#9

Luigi_is_better said:

@ph0x Thanks for letting us know! It's great to see a developer going above and beyond like this. Given the facts that DSiWare is getting a lot less attention nowadays and a game must be downloaded X amount of times before you get any money back it must be tough to still produce for the service. But you are listening to feedback and fixing the problem. I was considering buying this based on the multiplayer and pick-up-and-play feel of it because my daughter and I would have fun with it. But after seeing your comment I decided to get it for sure just to support you because I like your level of commitment. Thanks again, I look forward to the update/patch!

Morpheel

#10

Morpheel said:

I think that when you "start" the game as a ball of coins, you're actually continuing your previous game. You pay some random amount of score/coins to revive, I think.

I like this game, it's a real time waster. I wish more games came with the option to take screenshots too.

Mason

#11

Mason said:

@Morphtroid It's difficult to tell exactly what it's doing; I thought the same thing and tested it by collecting set amounts of coins before deliberately throwing myself off the edge to check the result, but I didn't seem to get concrete answers. My guess is that it gives you a jump start / continue point within a certain range depending on how many coins you collect in the previous round. You need to collect at least ten coins in the previous round to activate it as far as I can tell, though.

Perhaps @ph0x could share some information about this? It doesn't really affect my opinion either way, I'm just intrigued!

swordx

#12

swordx said:

The review makes this sound pretty fun, but there's one thing I have to wonder:

Why did this get the same score as Petit Computer? Disctosteww (I think that's his name) is making Mega Man 2 on it. Petit Computer is easily the best value on the eshop. So why did it get a 7?

Mason

#13

Mason said:

I can't speak for Petit Computer as I didn't review it, nor have I played it. They're completely different games aimed at separate audiences, though, so I'm not sure it's a fair comparison. One's more a programming tool, whereas this is a straight up arcade / endless runner game.

Every game is judged on its own merits; Jon clearly thought a 7 was appropriate for Petit Computer as I find the same score appropriate for Goony. I think (hope!) both scores are justified in their respective reviews!

Morpheel

#14

Morpheel said:

I don't have problems with this being the same score as petit computer.

Remember: 7 means good. And both games are good.

RetrogamerFan

#16

RetrogamerFan said:

Q*Bert and Q*Bert's Cubes are classic games, great fun and very addictive. Quite tempted by this at just £1.79 (200 points).

Tomatoboxer

#18

Tomatoboxer said:

Just got it, and it's really god. Something worth spending your extra dollars from HarmoKnight on.

Nintendojuenger

#19

Nintendojuenger said:

@ph0x I got the update (EU Version). There are a lot of changes (the enemies looks different, oil, coins combo, …) and the QR-Codes works now. BUT! there’s no more a two player mode!

ph0x

#21

ph0x said:

An update is now available for those who don't already have the latest version.
QR Codes can now be scanned with any system, regardless of region type.

Important:
You will have to do a fresh reinstall by first removing the the game and re-downloading it from the DSiShop. Re-downloading will be free since you already own the game.
If you update without removing the old version first, some menu options will not be visible until you do a fresh reinstall.

ph0x

#22

ph0x said:

@Nintendojuenger: multiplayer is still there, just do a fresh reinstall (see above)
@Mason: correct, the number of panels you have collected will be the number of blocks that you will skip over next time (you must collect at least 20 though)
@Luigi_is_better: thanks pal, have fun!

Mason

#23

Mason said:

Thanks for that @ph0x — I have updated the notes at the bottom of the review to advise a fresh install.

TG1

#24

TG1 said:

Fairly addictive little game as you chase your high scores, and worth the small asking price of 200 points.

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