GAME > Crazy Over Goo (Banov)

Crazy Over Goo is somewhat of a departure from Banov’s previous works. In fact, it’s a complete subversion of what we’ve come to expect. Compared to the sweeping epic that was Assassin Blue, Crazy Over Goo is almost a polar opposite. Far more humble in its ambitions, this does not preclude Crazy Over Goo from being a very enjoyable game.
The basic premise of Crazy Over Goo is to propel your goo ball around the stage to get to the goal. A veritable hoard of obstacle mechanics stand in your way, from spikes to sticky walls, with a new impediment being introduced every few levels. In this way gameplay is very simplistic and easy to learn. The mouse controls the angle and strength of the goo’s bounce… and that’s pretty much it. The simplistic nature of the gameplay is both the games greatest strength and greatest weakness; the game is immediately accessible but its depth is questionable. Hence, the new obstructions are required in order to keep the player interested, and thankfully they become available at perfectly timed intervals. To list all of the challenges the player will face here would damage the appeal of the game, but some of the more memorable and innovative trials that become available are the gravity changing fields and sticky walls. The game contains 50 levels of varying sizes and difficulties, with difficulty progression being mild enough not to alienate anyone (though at times the game is a tad easy). However there are some instances near endgame where the levels are far easier than they should be, damaging the otherwise well conceived progression. Levels tend to get larger and longer as the game progresses. This may seem like a dangerous decision, as the inevitable frustration that ensues when the player dies and has to redo the level may be intensified when the levels are long. However, there are only about two instances where the length is detrimental to the player’s enjoyment. The final level institutes a checkpoint system in order to increase the length without testing the player’s patience, creating a decidedly epic and fitting sendoff, but it’s a shame that this checkpoint system wasn’t used at more points throughout the game. For the player’s convenience there are two window size and a full screen mode, yet the windowed versions can be troublesome as some instances of rapid clicking can make the player accidentally minimize the game window.
Like the gameplay of Crazy Over Goo, the aesthetics and story are reserved and unassuming. The extent of the plot is basically an opening and closing cut scene, in which our yellow ball of gooey protagonist expresses its love for the viscous heroine. It’s very "your Princess is in another castle", and the game didn’t really need a story but the one Banov provided establishes a charming context that will produce a smile on even the most jaded of gamers. The visuals are crisp and simple, yet small flourishes show a level of graphical accomplishment that add to the overall polish of the game. The way the ball stretches and bounces is perfect, and the yellow glop that sprays out whenever the goo bounces changes depending on the force of the impact and the speed of the fling. It is truly devastating to see your goo ball dissolve into a shower of messy slop whenever you land on a spike. The color palette is well defined, with the game being vibrant and dynamic, yet the sprites are not oversaturated. However, there are some dubious decisions made in the visuals department. This game typically doesn’t handle greens well, with both the gravity fields and space planetoids sticking out like a sore thumb. Similarly, the fire particle systems are a bit underwhelming, and the choice to add blue square particles behind them is a debatable one. The rotate screen mechanic results in game text rotating as well, a frustrating error considering your unlock notices may appear upside down. Finally, the overuse of the Showcard Gothic font might grate on some people. However, these are only minor niggles, and on the whole the game has a well conceived idea of visual identity.
One of the more exciting parts of the game is the level editor. Crazy Over Goo includes a quite powerful level editor which allows players to create their own levels quickly and easily. User created levels can be made to almost the level of quality of the main campaign, although there are some notable mechanic exclusions, with some of the more interesting obstacles not being available. Obstacles are unlocked in the editor when they are conquered for the first time in the main game, meaning that players can muck about in the editor without fear of ruining future gameplay surprises, as well as ensuring players understand how the mechanic works before they use it in their levels. The Crazy Over Goo community is yet to have many user generated levels, but it’s early days and hopefully the community can make some unique and challenging levels in the near future.
The SFX in Crazy Over Goo enhance the experience dramatically. Banov has utilized volume to his advantage, with the strengths of the sound effects complimenting the magnitude of various on screen actions. Powerful throws result in loud twangings, and soft bumps drip out of your speakers with weak bounces. A particularly emotive moment for me was during the opening cutscene; the "goo love" noise is hilarious. The music is well conceived, and to try and combat music repetitiveness tracks are unlocked as the game goes on. I personally liked the music, but I found that muting it and playing my own songs in the background was a more suitable option for the stop and start style of gameplay. That said, the fact that you can have the best of both worlds should be noted.
Crazy Over Goo was a surprise. It will no doubt separate people; for some it will be innovative and addicting, and for others it will be shallow and derivative. However, it is an undeniably charming concept, and the level editor offers the potential for replayability should the community take to it. It’s most certainly a piece worthy of your time, and should you make the effort you may find yourself experiencing something refreshingly amiable.

Written by Matt Scorah

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