World of Goo remains a sticky treat and showcases the versatility of the Nintendo Switch.
It always felt better to pick up your goo balls than it did to slide them around. Although the touch screen of an iPad might seem like the best way to play World of Goo, the pointer-based controls used by the 2008 WiiWare release, or the mouse control of PC version, always felt more immediate, less ‘draggy’.
With Tomorrow Corporation’s Nintendo Switch reissue we have the best of both worlds. Touch screen controls in portable mode, and pointer controls in TV mode. Or do we?
In actual fact the game’s TV mode uses nothing more than the internal gyroscope and accelerometer of the Switch’s Joy-Con controllers. Nintendo’s little box of tricks has not been short of surprises since launch, but World of Goo’s smooth replication of the Wii’s motion controls – without the use of a sensor-bar – seems little short of magical.
Whether or not this means we can look forward to a whole range of Wii Virtual Console titles remains to be seen, but in the meantime Tomorrow Corporation should be congratulated on effectively demonstrating yet another of the Nintendo Switch’s many functions.
As for the game itself, World of Goo is pretty much a known quantity at this stage, but this doesn’t mean that it isn’t still an absolute delight to play. The game’s central conceit of connecting various types of gooey balls together to reach a goal hasn’t aged at all in the last nine years. There’s something intensely satisfying about joining these super-charming little balls together, and trying to keep things in balance as you reach for the goal. Like Tetris and Peggle it’s a mechanic that could be pared right back to its core and still be enjoyable.
The game’s complexity and challenge comes with the design of each level. Early stages help you get acquainted with connecting goo together, and then a slowly evolving roster obstacles are added to the mix, be it the whirring blades of a wind turbine, fire, or entire stages that rotate. The game’s leisurely difficulty curve matches the player’s gradual increase in confidence and ability, meaning unfair difficulty spikes are, for the most part, avoided. World of Goo manages to tread that fine line of providing a challenge, but always ensuring that success feels within reach.
The experience is given that extra polish by its ageless, cartoon-like visuals, and a subtle dystopian narrative that begins a thread picked up by Tomorrow Corporation’s other works, Little Inferno and Human Resource Machine. The game’s surprising late twist – which changes up the gameplay a little – provides World of Goo with a memorable conclusion and helps nudge it into classic status.
And let’s take a moment to mention the game’s wonderful sound design. Each little squeal and yelp adds character to the goo balls, and is helpful in communicating actions to the player. Kyle Gabler’s score deserves mention, too. It swings confidently from Western pastiche and carnival waltz, to Jazz and Blade Runner-esque synth. It’s a pure pleasure and is included in the game as an extra to be enjoyed in its entirety.
The Nintendo Switch release also includes a simultaneous two player co-op mode that can be played with two Joy-Con controllers. It works perfectly, and by adding a layer of communication – and miscommunication – it turns the game into a enjoyably chaotic social experience.
World of Goo remains a delight, then. And although it seems unlikely to ever happen, it’s a game that begs for a sequel. It would be fascinating to see where original developer 2D Boy and Tomorrow Corporation could take the concept next.