From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

Goo and Spore: Slimy Games

So I finally got a chance to connect my Wii to the Internet. A very dangerous thing since this girl likes to shop and video games do not escape my grubby little hands.

I connected solely for the purpose of downloading and playing 2D Boy’s much touted World of Goo. There’s got to be a reason why Gamasutra rated it the top downloadable game, right? I must say that I am impressed.

Let’s start with the background of this game since it’s interesting: The game was developed by two (yes, two!) former Electronic Arts employees working in “whichever free wi-fi coffee shop they wander into on a given day.” Well, it ended up winning the Design Innovation and Technical Excellence awards at the Independent Games Festival! My heroes!! Marry me? Adopt me?… Anyway…

In World of Goo, you start with several goo balls which can connect to create structures. The objective of the game is to get a specified number of goo balls into a pipe. There are different twists as you go through each level. Sleeping goo, albino (?!) goo, “drippy” goo… This game is pretty much a cross between Lemmings and The Incredible Machine.

Graphics & Music: 9 of 10 I loved the art which I found to be clean, simple, and playful. The art created a bright, silly and cheerful environment which was perfect for this puzzle game. It reminded me of a colorful, vector-styled “Nightmare Before Christmas”. The music also added to the game by matching well with the different levels. Haunting and sleepy for one level, while intense and dramatic for others.

Gameplay: 9 of 10 Grabbing and controlling the goo balls was a bit hard on my Wii-mote. I think I would have liked it more for the PC since using the mouse is more precise than the Wii but that could be because I’m not used to using a Wii-mote yet. I also don’t think this could have been made easier on the Wii and that the developers did well with it..

48 levels packs a good amount of gaming for the price. Each level was more innovative than the next and there were a good progression from easy to hard. I wanted to play more just to find out what these two evil geniuses had come up with.

I’m also eternally grateful that they included 3 skips for you in case you couldn’t get through one. (I hate you, Fisty!!!)

Creativity: 9 of 10 I thought the idea of this game was incredibly imaginative. Yay, goo! The concept of the game as well as the implementation showed that each aspect of the game was well thought out.

Total score: 90% All in all, I liked this game and I definitely plan to play it more. This was definitely a good choice for me to make my jump back into playing video games.

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Ok, I tried. I really tried. I just can’t keep playing Spore. I didn’t even get past the Creature stage which means I’m really not qualified to write a full review. However, I will post my thoughts on the game. Just keep in mind that I didn’t have the patience to finish the game.

So the game starts off in the Cell stage. You’re a shrimp-looking cell that either goes around eating other cells or plants and algae depending on whether you choose to be an omnivore or carnivore. Ok… sure. As you eat more and more you become larger and start eating larger things. You also customize your cell by adding things such as flagella or poison-spouting thingies. The first time I played it, this stage was pretty simple. It was fun for the first couple of minutes but then it got boring. The second time I played, I kept getting killed and it was a lot harder. Plus, the other creatures were scary and REALLY ugly. I seriously thought I was going to have nightmares about it.

In the next stage, you evolve and can go onto land. On land you make friends with other creatures by mimicking their actions. I found this annoying since I couldn’t find out how I was supposed to do that and the instructions were inadequate. I did make friends with a cute eggplant-looking thing that followed me around everywhere. That was cool. At one point, I got killed by some monster and on the screen it said, “You can’t make friends with the one fucked up looking thing!”… Really? Was the swearing really necessary? I can understand it in games like GTAIV where swearing adds to the gameplay but I thought Spore was partially targeted to kids…

Then I got really upset when my eggplant guy got killed and I went over to him hoping I could revive him… but instead I ate him. o_O

I could see why this game got good reviews. In terms of technology, they have some really big strides in the gaming industry with this title. Their creature creator was intuitive, easy-to-use, and your creatures are extremely customizable. The possibilities are pretty much endless in the types of creatures that could be created. However, I could not get anything to look cute! (I am a still a girl, after all.) Besides, EA offers a separate Creature Creator for $10.

*Sigh* I really, really wanted to like this game. Maybe if I tried again and finished it… but for now I have games that I already like playing so this is getting shelved.

Cindy Tran is a twenty-something, not-so-average nerd that has recently jumped into the computer/technology field. She’s currently pursuing her second bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering Technology while working full-time as a civil engineer. All while trying to keep a good work-life balance. These reviews originally appeared at http://chicnerd.blogspot.com/2009/02/wired-and-already-all-gooey.html and http://chicnerd.blogspot.com/2009/02/spore-make-it-stop-please.html. Cindy Tran