World of Goo
Puzzle games are in abundance on the iPhone, but nothing as polished or well thought out at 2D Boy's The World of Goo. The game originally found a home on WiiWare and computer platforms in late 2008 before making its way to the iPad last year and, most recently, the iPhone / iPod Touch last week. For those unfamiliar with the concept, it's a puzzle game that relies on physics to challenge the player. You control a group of roving goo balls that can be used to build webbed designs on an existing structure. By expanding the size of the structure, you have created new areas for the goo balls to travel on. The end goal is to build the structure in a fashion that reaches a pipeline that sucks up all the remaining goo balls that you didn't use. Not only do you have to be very careful in how your structure is balanced, you also have to make sure there's enough goo to fill the tank when reaching the pipe.
There are also multiple versions of the goo ball, each performing a different action. The black goo ball is described above and it's only use is to expand the existing structure. Interesting, you are left by yourself to figure out which balls do what as there's no tutorial in the game. This, however, doesn't prove to be a problem as there are messages left in the levels by the mystery "Sign Painter". Depending on the goo ball, you may be reusing them, floating them to hold up the structure, bouncing them, etc... As the game progresses and the difficulty increases, you will be required to use multiple types of goo to achieve reach the ending of each level. In addition, environmental objects and weather effect come into play to blow down your structure making your job even tougher. Timing is crucial in certain puzzles and will often drive you mad!
However, it never seems overwhelming to the player. You have free puzzle solves each day that can be used in case you get stuck. You also get a real sense of accomplishment when building a solid design for your goo or perhaps when you barely reach the pipe in time. It's also fun trying to figure out how to reach piles of sleeping goo spread around levels in order to boost your score on each round. The amount of goo that you collect also ties into an overall total for building a massive structure outside of the main game. This can be compared to other players around the world in a creative form of a leaderboard. However, there's no multiplayer included in the game beyond that.
Visually, this is probably one of the best looking games for the iPhone released in the past 3 months. The light, playful art style is not only unique to other apps, but helps intricately craft the story as well. The game is perfect for the display of the iPhone 4 with vibrant colors and inventive artwork (hopefully a Retina upgrade is incoming). The Goo animation is perfect as well as tracing the placement of the next path. The game runs silky smooth as well.
If you don't play this with the volume turned up, you are really missing out on a key part of the presentation and overall experience. I can't recomend the use of headphones enough as the musical score for the game is reminiscent of an Elfman movie soundtrack. The music wisks the mood of the game between gloomy and jubilant from level to level expertly. Sound effects are subdued, but effective when building Goo-filled structures.
If there was any platform that was a perfect match for The World of Goo, both aesthetically and physically, it's the iPhone and iPod Touch. The controls are perfectly implemented and the gameplay is incredibly involving, so much so that you are invested in the survival of the cute little Goo balls. Puzzles are thoughtfully designed and the narrative slowly begins to delight the player as the game progresses. You are looking at about 7 to 9 hours of game time to polish off the nearly 50 levels, an extremely excellent deal at $2.99, especially compared to most console releases (Portal 2, I'm looking at you this week). Don't hesitate to download The World of Goo for the iPhone if you love puzzlers or simply well-polished games.