World of Goo
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that World of Goo contains little in the way of potentially offensive content. Its narrative -- which focuses on semi-intelligent balls of goo being used by a corporation to develop products such as beauty cream and a kind of drink -- contains concepts geared for older players, but there is never anything graphic or scary. However, the puzzle-based play, while intuitive and simple at first, quickly becomes difficult enough that it may frustrate some children. In other words, it's safe for kids to play, but they might not get as much out of it as older tweens, teens, and adult players.
What kids can learn
Thinking & Reasoning
- analyzing evidence
- making new creations
- digital creation
Engagement, Approach, Support
Sharp humor, heaps of personality, varied puzzles, and building with goo keep players hooked.
Lots of fun, trial and error learning teaches about shapes and physics, but without explicit explanation.
Intuitive controls and clues left in each level help, but this is a puzzler.
What's it about?
Available for PC and through WiiWare (Nintendo's downloadable game service for the Wii console), WORLD OF GOO is composed of a series of physics-based puzzles that involve building bridges, towers, scaffolds, and other structures out of the game's titular material. The general goal is to move the goop toward pneumatic pipes strategically positioned within two-dimensional environments. These pipes suck up the goo and take it to the World of Goo Corporation, where it is processed into various products. There are five chapters, each with over a dozen puzzles. When players aren't engaged in the story, they can head over to the World of Goo factory, where they can work with the bits of goop they have collected in an attempt to build the tallest possible tower. If you're connected to the Internet you'll be able to see goal marks representing other players' towers in the background.
Is it any good?
World of Goo is a breath of fresh air in the 2008 video game season that has been overrun to some degree by guns and gore. The googly-eyed goo balls are undeniably endearing creatures, the colourful 2-D environments create a visually satisfying Dr. Seuss-meets-Edward Gorey sort of atmosphere, and the almost ethereal background music often sounds as though it has been pilfered from a Tim Burton film. Plus, the game's clever story about the World of Goo Corporation draws some vague but thoughtful parallels with real-world companies without ever becoming preachy about it.
But it's World of Goo's physics-based conundrums that make the game a truly special -- perhaps even brilliant -- interactive experience. Most puzzles have wonderfully imaginative premises. For example, one level set in a tumbler sends the player's tower falling to the side every couple of seconds. You have to be quick, strategic, and patient, waiting for just the right moments to attach your goo balls to a long, narrow structure that eventually wedges itself between the barrel's rotating sides. The key to all of this goopy fun is how the goo balls are governed by the same physical laws present in our world. All we really need do to solve each puzzle is apply our understanding of real-world forces such as gravity and wind. It makes for wonderfully intuitive play that has potential to appeal to just about anyone -- though later puzzles are tricky enough that they might prove off-putting to younger players. It's one of the best and most innovative games of the year, and it's dirt cheap, to boot.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the game's goo balls and how they are used by the corporation. Do you feel sad that they are destined to be made into various products? Do you think they mind?
Do you think that the game's makers were trying to make a statement about the way real-world corporations use natural resources? If so, what do you think that statement might be?