World of Goo: Product Z

Almost done: I’ve been through all the levels except the epilogue. The epilogue apparently has only three levels, but from what I’ve seen, they’re doozies. (The word “doozy” isn’t one I normally use, but World of Goo inspires that sort of vocabulary.)

There’s a running plot thread, communicated mainly through clickable signposts throughout the levels, about the World of Goo Corporation’s mysterious “Product Z”, which is supposed to change the world forever. It turns out to be (SPOILERS!) the Z axis: “World of Goo is now 3D!” This seemed like a really bold move: could the game really make the jump from a 2D interface to a 3D one three-quarters of the way through? It was at this point that I realized how strong my faith in the author was. I trusted this “2D Boy” (ha ha) to pull of the transition well. However, the whole thing immediately turned out to be a lie. There is no 3D, in or out of gameplay. There’s a shift to an “information superhighway” theme, with the World of Goo Corporation Headquarters (where you build your tower) temporarily turning into “My Virtual World of Goo Corporation” until you finish world 4, but unless computers are just supposed to connote 3D somehow, I don’t see why it was even mentioned. I’ll note that the next level is actually set on the ruins of a disused information superhighway, so apparently a lot of time passes between worlds 3 and 4. Maybe the entire 3D era came and went between levels — a commentary on the fate of big-studio games?

Also, the whole computer-themed world passes by without making any puns on “GUI”. I can’t decide if this is a wasted opportunity or a sign of an admirable sense of restraint. Thinking about the other jokes the signposts crack, though, I don’t think I can really believe the latter.

5 Comments so far

  1. Merus on 20 Apr 2009

    I believe the plot goes that because the world is now 3D, the goo are forced into the only 2D place left: the internet.

    The entire thing is a big commentary on big-studio games that only reveals itself when you strip it of its considerable silliness.

  2. malkav11 on 20 Apr 2009

    I admit that this is where my desire to play the game ran out. I simply do not enjoy the more arcadey mechanic of flinging the goo balls around, and while I’m sure they move on to something else within a couple of levels (or at least add more interesting mechanics around it), that would require me to beat the flinging levels.

  3. Merus on 21 Apr 2009

    I made liberal use of the skip feature when I realised that I enjoyed the creativity of the game more than the sometimes weak applications of that creativity. I can always return to them later.

    Here’s something I didn’t think about and wish I had: it’s a very satirical game, but the level and subtlety of that satire differs. I’m curious what you think about games doing satire, because I can’t think of any other medium where you could get away with something as anvilicious as the Red Carpet level, or the GTA series’ trademark crude parodies of American pop culture.

  4. Carl Muckenhoupt on 21 Apr 2009

    Hm yeah. Going back and looking at it again, I see that the whole “Now in 3D” ends with a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it comment that you are incompatible with 3D and need to consult the customer service center via the Information Superhighway. I think my brain rejected this information as nonsensical: I’m clearly not incompatible with 3D.

    Also, it seems like the story expects you to make the immediate and intuitive leap to 3D = Bad And Must Be Destroyed, which may well be part of 2D Boy’s ethos, but isn’t part of mine. Maybe a few years ago, when 3D support was commercially mandatory for games regardless of whether it was appropriate to the gameplay or not, I would have sympathized more. But this is the post-Bejewelled era.

    The entire thing is a big commentary on big-studio games that only reveals itself when you strip it of its considerable silliness.

    But… why would you want to strip it of its silliness?

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