Yeah, I bought a new Android phone. And that naturally means checking out a wealth of new games. World of Goo is one. I’ve played it on PC before but never did finish it. And the Humble Bundle guys recently did another lot of Android games so I’ve grabbed Smuggle Truck (also available in an Apple-friendly fuzzy ‘Snuggle Truck’ format) too.
So let’s start with the older title, World of Goo by 2D Boy. I realise I’m over 3 years late to the party here, but it’s new to me and I get to pick what I write about so tough luck. World of Goo is an adorable physics-based puzzle game set in a slightly dystopian world. A planet seemingly run by the massive World of Goo Corporation and inhabited by hundreds of cute goo balls, the goal is to build your way towards, over, around, and through increasingly elaborate obstacles to reach a pipe serving as an exit point in each level. For what purpose? Because the goo balls are curious where all the pipes lead, seems to largely be the justification.
The majority of the goo balls have the ability to attach themselves to neighbouring ones allowing you to build structures from them. Each connection has a limited amount of strength and flexibility though, so build too high or too far and you’ll find your construct swaying, or toppling and if you really overdo it, snapping apart. You’ll soon meet different coloured goo balls too which have different properties. Green ones are plantlike and can be detached and reused to build further. Pink ones will inflate like balloons and pull upwards. Clear ones will only ever attach to one neighbour and hang like drool. Red ones are flammable. They all combine to make some really interesting puzzles, many of which will leave you frustrated, but that only serves to make victory sweeter. If ever anything proves just too hard to do though, the option to skip any level is always available. There’s no purchasing skips through microtransactions or earning them through performing well (as many other mobile games seem to offer), if it’s too hard, no worries, just move on. That makes it extremely accessible to anyone.
As if the excellent gameplay wasn’t enough, the game has a wonderfully simplistic cutesy style to it that I challenge anyone not to find endearing. Underneath the saccharine coating though, the game has a very dark sense of humour. One notable level being a beauty contest in which the unattractive goo balls must be ground up in order to fill a spike pit so that the attractive goo ball may cross it unharmed.
At £3, World of Goo is excellent value for the entertainment I have gotten from it. My only lament is that there isn’t more of it. You won’t often hear me advocating sequels but I would jump on more World of Goo in a heartbeat.
And so we move onto our second feature: Smuggle Truck by Owlchemy Labs; a game about driving a truck full of immigrants across the US border to smuggle them into the country. You might know it by another name and there’s an interesting story in that. Owlchemy built the game in its Smuggle Truck incarnation and submitted it to the iTunes App Store. Apple, as you may be aware, has pretty strict regulations on what goes in the App Store, and a game about illegal immigration apparently crossed the line; it was turned down. A quick re-branding was in order. In just a week the immigrants became animals, the border became a zoo and all references to visas and green cards etc. were stripped out and replaced with fuzzy counterparts. Thus became Snuggle Truck. I have to give Owlchemy credit for having the balls to make that move at all. Ultimately though, Google is a little more lenient and allowed both Smuggle and Snuggle Truck on their store, so I’ve been playing the more ‘controversial’ satirical original.
It’s a fairly simple physics/driving game. It’s not original, that kind of stuff has been around since Excitebike on the NES. Drive over rough terrain and obstacles, tilt your phone to lean forward or backwards and try to get to the end in one piece. Of course here you’re not simply trying to get to the end. You’re in a pickup truck and you have nine cartoon illegal immigrants in the back. Go over a bump too fast or lean too far one way or hit an obstacle and some or possibly all of then can go flying. The goal being to get as many as you can across the border as fast as possible, with medals awarded for performance and bonus medals for completing it super fast without regard for your passengers’ well being or for taking your time and getting them all to the end no matter how long it takes.
Cliffs, explosives, falling rocks, huge jumps and moose are all the kind of things standing between you and the border. If you want to replenish your supply of immigrants, rather bizzarely, occasionally a baby will be launched into the air, the game will briefly go into slo-mo and you can attempt to catch the baby in the back to increase your immigrant count by one. The baby seems entirely unfazed by this entire process, even if you fail to catch it.
The whole thing is a satire of the American immigration situation. It’s all executed with tongue very thoroughly in cheek and has elicited more than a few laughs from me. There’s even a ‘legal immigration’ mode wherein you can sit in a waiting room and wait 19 years in real time to be approved for immigration (What happens in the game if the full 19 years elapses? I’m incredibly curious). It’s incredibly addictive, especially going back to get all the medals. There’s a good amount of content available, with user generated maps available online making the amount of gameplay available nearly limitless. Each run usually takes around 30-40 seconds too, so it’s fantastic to pick up and play briefly, or during a quick skive from work in the bathroom. The only real gripe I have is the menu interface. My phone has a reasonably large screen and the font is microscopic and nigh impossible to click on making level selection far more challenging than it has any right to be.
Snuggle Truck is free on iOS with microtransactions to unlock bonus cosmetic features or £3.99 on Steam with all features unlocked out of the box. Smuggle Truck and Snuggle Truck are both £2.51 on Android. All in all it’s very good value for money, you’ll get plenty out of it, even if just while sat on the porcelain throne.