World of Goo has been around for quite some time, being a fairly unique PC game that could run on just about any computer system of the last ten years or so. In fact, it was one of the first full games I was able to run on my junk Windows XP machine way back when. Now, this classic puzzle game has made its way to the Nintendo Switch, but is there enough in this port to entice new players or is it an act of frustration?
Visually, World of Goo is fairly interesting, using industrial motifs with cute colored blobs and a simple color palette. The objective is to get the amount of blobs of goo needed into a pipe, where they are sucked into a holding chamber. To do this, the player must build interconnecting structures, either to reach high areas or around obstacles. Gameplay revolves around knowing the physics engine and just how much stress each ligament of the structure can take before breaking. It has fairly simple mechanics, mixed with ever increasingly more difficult objectives, making for some interesting levels. Solving them is usually fulfilling, but later levels just left me feeling frustrated and unsure what I was doing wrong.
After the first world is complete, the game gets pretty tough pretty fast. Some levels even has the player utilizing weird tricks that seem like bugs in the game’s engine, but are touted as features by the game’s cheeky sign painter. The worst of these levels are the ones that has the player escorting larger characters through the stage. Of course, there are little fireflies the player can touch to pull back time a few moves, but sometimes this is made more tricky than needs to be using the Switch tablet. These levels feel more like pushing a boulder uphill than coming up with a creative solution.
There are some interesting commentaries the game makes on industrialism, which is interesting. World of Goo presents a bleak world, void of humans, with our player left to cheer for these determined little globs of goo. While the symbolism is certainly interesting, there just isn’t anything new to be had for the Switch version, other than the obvious portability. It’s a puzzle game just about everyone has played, but it is a solid puzzle game that is sort of timeless.
Playing in TV mode has the player using the Joy-Con like a Wii-mote, pointing a cursor to make moves. A second player can even jump in for a bit of co-operative play. I’ll admit that using these pointers didn’t feel nearly as accurate as the touchscreen controls while in portable mode. Although, there is something to be said about how much retail the fingers take up on the screen, making for some aggravating missed clicks.
I am honestly rather conflicted about World of Goo, some levels are just brilliant, with interesting execution of the game’s core mechanics. However, there are definitely moments that seem like more trouble than its worth, especially since the payoff is just another level to attempt. Although, one of my favorite elements of the game does provide incentive to do better. Beating a level with more goo balls than are needed can be brought to a ridiculously tall goal, which has the player constantly returning with their hordes of goo to attempt this seemingly impossible challenge. I like that level of permanence between levels, but I don’t see myself going that far with the game.
World of Goo does have a fantastic soundtrack, one that ranges from circus-like melodies to epic, sweeping scores. There is a sound test option for those that just want to listen to these tracks and while some tracks are a bit short for a level, it does add some atmosphere that can lead to some intriguing moments.
Oddly enough, World of Goo has gotten a ton of praise over the years, winning all sorts of awards as an indie game. While the game doesn’t have the problems that early 3D games had with being playable today, I just didn’t have as much fun with this version as I did on the PC. It’s the type of puzzle game that makes me feel like I don’t have enough control over the situation. I would build towers soundly, but they could quickly be destroyed by a saw blade or spikes. Using almost the same strategy would yield better results though, making the whole process of trial and error feel more tiresome. It’s hard to pin down those quintessential “ah-ha” moments that a lot of puzzle games had. Just feels like I bumbled through most challenges.
If anything, World of Goo is a fun little distraction on a console that is still trying to find its feet. There are definitely worse ways to spend ten bucks. It will always feel better playing this game with a mouse though.
For some more information on World of Goo, check out the official website.