It's hard to believe it's been nearly a decade since World of Goo first glopped its way onto the then-new WiiWare service. A smart, squishy puzzle adventure from indie developers 2D Boy — with some of that team now known as Tomorrow Corporation — it raised the bar on downloadable Wii games and ran off with the hearts of puzzle gamers, ourselves included. Now, two Nintendo consoles later, World of Goo has returned on the Switch, taking full advantage of the platform to feature portability and pointer controls in a single, definitive package.
At its squishy centre, World of Goo is a physics-based puzzle game with an unusual amount of heart. In each of its nearly 50 levels you'll have some sentient goo balls and a goal to reach — usually a pipe that needs to suck up a certain amount of the little blobs — with free reign over how to get there. Dragging goos in range of their friends will see them auto-connect and then harden, allowing you to create extensive — and often slightly off-kilter — goo structures with the little guys. The wrinkle is that you only have a set number of goos to work with per level, and goos that have hardened can't count towards the required total of escapees; so if you have 30 blobs to build with, and need to have 10 reach the goal, you'll want to make sure to create your contraption out of 20 blobs or less.
Towers, bridges, tables, wheels, platforms and boats are among the many living, breathing infrastructure projects you may will into being during your adventure, and the satisfying physics engine underneath it all makes building as rewarding and strategic as it is silly and fun. If you need to get your goos across a ravine, for instance, you might start out building a bridge, counterbalancing it after every few lengthwise expansions with the best of intentions, only to have it flop, flan-like, towards certain destruction. But not to worry! With quick reflexes and a bit of luck you might manage to fit some emergency goo supports onto the sides, catching the whole thing rather tentatively on the near side of the drop. From there, you can build upwards and outwards again, and end up with a gloriously slapdash monument to 'oops!' which your remaining goo balls will wind their way across to the goal. Then, you will feel like a genius.
From there, that feeling only grows. World of Goo is so much fun because it makes you feel like every solution you come up with is a slimy subversion of the rules. Inspired by an early failure, one of our most consistently successful techniques for crossing pits was building a tower tall enough to stretch across, and then toppling it over — voilà, a bridge. After trying to build downward carefully and cautiously to a precariously-placed pipe over and over again, we had unexpected success by just sending a ball of goo blobs careening down into the canyon, wedging it between the walls, and extending outward from there — puzzle-solving by catharsis.
Of course, while these unlikely triumphs formed some of our fondest memories with the game, World of Goo also rewards strategizing and pre-planing intricate solutions — and the predictable but flexible physics mean that there's always several ways to approach these as well. It's the rare puzzle game that rewards careful, creative and downright reckless thinking all in equal measure, but World of Goo pulls it off, with something to offer every type of player.
While that balancing act alone would be enough to carry the game's puzzles through to the end, World of Goo has an appealing sense of progression that comes from both its diverse 'worlds' — each of the five overarching levels has its own unique visual and audio theme — and its gradual introduction of new mechanics. The garden-variety goos you'll start working with, for instance, are soon joined by green goos, which can be re-moistened after they've set into a structure, and pulled apart from their brethren to be placed anew as many times as you like. Soon after you'll add teardrop goos to your repertoire, which drip slowly and steadily downward after they're placed until they reach their full extension. Lighter-than-air floaty goos, spiky goos, flammable goos, bone goos, and many more round out the package, each introduced at steady intervals throughout the game and given plenty of room to breathe before being combined together in more complicated puzzles. It's excellently paced and never stops being exciting — there's always something new to learn, but always time to put what you've learned into practice.
Of course, if you've played World of Goo before all this will sound familiar. It's a wonderful game, but one that's also been released on quite a few platforms — all the way from the Wii to Blackberry phones. What does this Switch port do differently? For starters, it offers a truly complete suite of control options, all of which impressed us. As you might imagine, World of Goo is a perfect fit for touch controls, and that option works very well — you can undock the system, pop off the Joy-Cons, and treat the Switch like any other tablet, poking, dragging and stacking the slimes with ease. The touchscreen is responsive and quick, and we liked the 'hands-on' feel this mode provides.
Even better, however — and much more impressive — is the fact that the Joy Cons can be used like Wii Remotes for pointer-based controls, with the Switch in tabletop mode or docked on the TV. Since the Switch has no sensor bar in its setup, this works via gyroscope alone — but it does an absolutely wonderful job. All you have to do is set the Joy-Con down on a flat surface, then pick it up and go: you can control the pointer easily and quickly with easy, subtle wrist movements, 'click' with the any of the face buttons, and recentre the gyroscope with '+' or '-'. It's responsive and natural, and quickly became our favourite way to play; setting up the Switch in tabletop mode in a coffee shop and controlling our goo blobs with the Joy Con in a relaxed position under the table was amazingly comfortable.
Adding a second Joy-Con in the mix, you can also invite a second helper along for co-op play. This isn't a Switch-exclusive feature, but the nature of the system makes it an easily accessible high-point here; World of Goo works surprisingly well as a shared experience, feeling a little more frantic but just as fun with a second player in the mix, and we loved being able to just offer up the second Joy-Con to friends or passersby intrigued by the treacly towers on-screen.
And even though it's nearly 10 years old, World of Goo does still impress visually. Everything looks nice and sharp in HD, and scales very well for the Switch's tabletop mode — the goos are easy to see and rearrange, even sitting back a bit from the system, and the colours really pop on the portable. It sports a bold, clean design that gets a lot of milage out of playing with shadows and light, and the upsettingly appealing apocalyptic art style that would later become Tomorrow Corporation's calling card. It's bleak only in terms of its implication; in execution, it's gorgeous.
That sense of style carries through to the excellent writing — a surprisingly engaging story is told through snippets of script on signs in each level — and also to the music. World of Goo's cinematic soundtrack nails the same slightly sinister, oddly offbeat tone mixture that the visuals do so well, and the result is a genre-hopping highlight that touches on everything from jazz and choral requiems to funk and film scores.
It's a welcome change from the short loops of most puzzler soundtracks, and is well worth listening to independently of the gameplay — a premise at the heart of a Switch-exclusive bonus feature, the full OST being included with the game. It's a nice extra, but the interface does leave a lot to be desired. There's no way to pause a track in the middle without stopping it entirely, or fast forward, or skip to a certain part of the song. And whether it's down to a hardware limitation or not, the fact that there's no way to continue listening while the Switch's screen is off is unfortunate, especially when 3DS titles like Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call and Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS had the feature. As it stands the tunes themselves are fantastic, but the OST interface feels more like a simple sound test than anything else.
World of Goo is a true classic, and it's revered for good reason. It's instantly accessible but with plenty of depth; it's paced out perfectly, with a steady stream of new tricks and techniques to learn; and its puzzles can be solved with forward-thinking, quick reflexes or a mixture of both. Wrapped up in a unique, pleasantly apocalyptic presentation, with co-op support and a harder 'OCD' mode for added replay value, this is a complete puzzle package. If you've played it previously, the Switch incarnation might be worth a second go for its portable pointer controls and on-the-go co-op, but if it's your first time into the World of Goo it's absolutely a must-play, and this is — in our minds — the definitive version.
played it on wii when it came out. very cool game for sure!
Was a 10/10 for me when I first played it on WiiWare and is still a 10/10 for me now. Brilliant game.
1 point lower than the original review.
Revisiting this one right now and having a great time. Pointer controls work well enough (have to recalibrate about once per level), but that's a small price to pay to be able to play this game anywhere/anytime.
Really seems like this could have come out on the Wii U (and 3DS). Loved it on the Wii.
A friend and I beat the Wii version a long time ago and it was a lot of fun. I'd definitely recommend this as a great collaborative puzzler.
Wow. Great score. Played on the old Wii and was more than impressed.
"Definitive version", yet scores 1 point less than the original...?!?
@SLIGEACH_EIRE I've noticed NL has been a bit more stricked on giving 10's in the more recent years even if it's the same great game.
It's been so long since I played this. This game was pretty fun on Wii.
@gaga64 Exactly my point.
This is still a 10 through and through!
@SLIGEACH_EIRE it's a different reviewer isn't it?
@gaga64 different reviewer
Uh, eventually there will be uh, NEW games to play on the uh, Nintendo Switch?
I -love- this game.
And the pointer-mode working so well with the JoyCons really seal the deal for me on getting a Switch eventually. I often found myself longing for the days of WiiMote aiming during the Wii U years.
That they re-included pointer controls (which in my opinion worked fantastically well on the Wii) guarantees I'll buy it again. The fact it's just a totally amazing game doesn't hurt either.
To anyone concerned about the score, everyone has different opinions. Whether scored an 8, a 9, or a 10, honestly - what's the difference? The main point stands - this is a great game, and if your are remotely interested, you should check it out. I'll be giving it a pass, because I played it to death on PC, but it's an excellent game. I think I would give it an 8, maybe a 9, but everyone's opinion will vary.
Nice to see more games on Switch but this isn't for me.
Why did it get a docked a point and only has more more and possibly preferred ways to play?
This game is almost 10 years old...
You can play this on Android tablet for free.
I never finished this on WiiWare so I might revisit it soon. Still holding out for a trilogy discount though...
I purchased the original on Wii and also got it for iOS for use on iPad. Personally, I wanted to love the game but just couldn't get into it. I'll pass on the Switch version : /
@faint true, but as they're both writing on behalf of the 1 site, it shouldn't make a difference.
The music in this game is just awesome.
@SLIGEACH_EIRE Ha ha! I'm actually laughing at your comment!
Maybe it lost a point 2nd time round for 'Lack of originality because it's already been done'
@gaga64 That's not how it works, though. Different reviewers will have slightly differing opinions, and there's no such thing as a site-wide strict consensus.
Also, ten years have passed, which means potentially altogether different circumstances.
@Loui You're not going to get any kind of bundle. I asked the dev and they told me they tried, but that Nintendo didn't have any way to allow for that.
I bought This and Human Resource Machine. I like HRM better than World of Goo. They're both really good. I'd probably give HRM an 8 and World of Goo a 7.5.
I really appreciated the addition of the co-op I've been playing with my wife.
I'm enjoying this game all over again. And playing it on a road trip with touch controls and with headphones is pretty immersive, mostly due to the fantastic soundtrack.
Anyone who hasnt played this game should download STAT
This was my game of the year when it first came out on the Wii. If you somehow haven't played it yet, you need to.
Best version of an excellent game, no doubt a top ten must-play indie game.
Though one problem I have with the pointer controls is the free scrolling. When you point to the sides the screen scrolls, which can be unintentionally squirrelly at times. It would be preferable if a button-press enabled scrolling, or if the analog stick scrolled. Our "fix" is to enable two players and use the 2nd controller to play and the 1st to control the screen. Not exactly elegant...
I played the Wii version and really enjoyed it. So if you haven't played it yet, go get it, whether it's on WiiWare or Switch.
Pretty meh to me. Not there a lot to choose from but I always pick something else to play. 9/10 mobile app standards for me.
I've got the Wii Ware version but haven't played it yet. Something tells me I'm not really going to enjoy this kind of game but must give it a try sometime.
@ricklongo The age of the game is irrelevant, a fantastic game is timeless, just look at the Virtual Console listings. Unless it wasn't worth 10/10 the first time.
Don't get me wrong, I love this game, though I would have probably gone for a 9 first time round. Once finished I didn't have any great urge to go back and replay.
You can play a demo on an Android tablet for free
"true, but as they're both writing on behalf of the 1 site, it shouldn't make a difference"
Of course it makes a difference. Opinions are opinions and people are allowed to have different ones, including writers for this or any other site.
@leo13 Thanks for the info, typical Nintendo BS though. Remember when they did offers like buy two versions of Street Fighter 2 on VC and get the third one free? They could have easily implemented something like that.
I've yet to try HRM, but it looks like something I'd enjoy.
One of my favorite indie games. Bought it on PC when it first came years and years ago and have loved it ever since. It's easily the best of the Tomorrow Corporation games.
This game is an all around joy to play. It's one my non-gaming wife couldn't resist and actually completed it on Wii, which was something I could not accomplish. I still try from time to time.
@electrolite77 of course individual reviewers are going to have different opinions, everything's subjective when it comes to reviews, but if they're writing on behalf of the 1 site which only publishes 1 review, I'd expect there to be some internal consistency at the editorial level. Otherwise it undermines the site's reviews somewhat, you can't help but think "if one of the other reviewers was coverings this one, would it have scored higher/lower? Who's score would be most like mine?" I know some people follow the individual reviewers on these things, but I (and I suspect many others) would just think "this is the NintendoLife score".
The answer, although not especially practical, would be to either have multiple writers comment on each game, or to have the final score be voted on by the reviewing/editorial team. For all I know, that might be happening here, but if it is, then I wonder why this 10/10 game is now getting 9/10 despite the enhancements and no mention of any relative weaknesses.
The gyroscopic pointer play control is absolute bliss. I hope other games utilise this wherever possible!
Wasn't the original four player and this one only two player?
@brandonbwii , The original was single player the Nintendo Switch version is co-op which is awesome its an amazing game to play with a friend it adds this new chaotic feel to the game play , like New Super Mario Bros. Wii did where another player can hurt you as much as they can help you .,
I have to say this game is sooo easily a 10 outta 10 its such a beautiful and fun game the art direction is amazing and the game play addicting I would love to see a sequel to this game .
@Romeo-75 The Wii version I believe had an exclusive 4 player mode.
@brandonbwii , I went and looked it up I have the game on Wii also and I never knew it had multi-player on the Wii , LoL I dont know how I missed that then .
@electrolite77 Who plays demo on Android? LOL, everyone downloads the full game apk from the net. Theres a reason iOS is the preferred platform for devs, no one needs to pay for anything on Android.
It's getting a different score (as if 9 or 10 makes such a big difference) because it's a second review, 8+ years after the first, on a different format, by a different person. There's very little analysis to be done beyond that.
Oh I know what you meant. I just don't think that, whatever anyone may think of the price on Switch, saying 'I can pirate it cheaper' is a legitimate criticism.
@electrolite77 the difference between 9 or 10 is key. 10/10 implies as close to perfection as is possible, 9/10 suggests "brilliant in spite of minor flaws". Considering how some people focus on the scores and not the review details, it's worth distinguishing.
But in all honesty, my original point is moot anyway - I was getting hung up on this being "the definitive version", but had hastily overlooked that the comment was subject to "if this is your first time".
The review reads like a 9/10, the only negative is around the OST interface, which could be better but doesn't hamper an otherwise fantastic game.
I have the 3 games (World of Goo, Little Inferno, HRM) on WiiWare + Wii U.
I'd rebuy them for having World of Goo in HD and for the soundtrack, but only if those came on a neat 3-in-1 compilation cartridge.
Just seen this on sale heard of years ago but never got round to it. Now mite be the time x x x x x.
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