“World of Goo” Review: Sticky Fingers

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World of Goo
Publisher: 2D Boy
Developer: 2D Boy
Systems it’s available on: iPad
ESRB rating: N/A
System reviewed on: iPad

Chances are, you’ve played World of Goo already. Since its initial 2008 release, it’s become one of indie gaming’s biggest success stories: two former EA employees build it themselves and put it out for PCs and Macs in a DRM-free format through a pay-what-you-want framework, going on to win numerous awards. After the PC/Mac/Linux releases, Nintendo distributed it through its WiiWare download hub.

So, why would you buy it again?

One of the best (and worst things) about this era of gaming is how individual titles can migrate to different devices. Take Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars, for example. It first came out for the Nintendo DS in March 2009 and then hit the PSP six months later. This January, Rockstar rolled out an iPhone version of Chinatown Wars, only to follow that up with iteration optimized for iPad. While most consumers wouldn’t pay for four versions of the same title over a 20-month span, there’s a nagging sense of doubt as to whether the version of a game that you picked up is all it could have been. Revisiting a game for re-release lets developers tweak controls, improve graphics and even add new content. The main question, then, is how much does a change in platform translate to a change in experience? With 2D Boy’s translation of WoG for iOS, the answer is a lot.

The gameplay feels more surehanded and less fumbly than on other platforms and it feels smoother in terms of the processing. I played World of Goo before on my laptop and I had a different, lesser level of focus. Some of that was other programs calling away my attention or noticing the game chug every so often. On iPad, the connection to the game and the solutions feel more direct and more precise. The main goal of every level in World of Goo is to construct a way for the game’s Goo Balls to reach a pipe that will whisk them away to another part of the world. You’ll have goals like solving a level in as little time as possible or moving as many Goo Balls off the level as possible.

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All the things that made World of Goo a hit work especially well on iPad. The infectious, cartoony aesthetic, the wry humor and sprightly music work together to create a surprising mix of feelings and you’ll fall in love with the helpless little Goo Ball all over again, if you haven’t already. For all that charm, one might forget that the game’s a first-class brainteaser but the levels will quickly remind you how challenging World of Goo is.

World of Goo‘s lovable living Legos and improvised architecture have been easy to grasp ever since the game made its debut but, in moving to iPad, those elements finally feel like they found the platform they were waiting. 2D Boy’s maiden iOS effort is so good that I’d recommend buying it even if you’ve already played World of Goo on another system. Not too bad for a game that you could’ve paid close to nothing for when it first game out.

Official Techland Score: 9.0 out of 10

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