Review | 4/27/2012 at 2:42 PM

World Gone Sour Co-Op Review

Things are about to get sticky...or something.

You’d think life would be easy as a piece of candy, when in reality it can be a fate worse than hell. In the World Gone Sour universe, the ultimate goal of a Sour Patch Kid is to make it into the belly of a human, much like us trying to make it into Heaven someday. Unfortunately, some Sour Patch Kids get left behind in unfortunate ways, either by being dropped or misplaced by neglectful people, and then they get angry. Very angry. Yep, these Kids go from nice and sweet to sadistically mean and sour, all because you denied them their dream of being eaten.

As the Green and Blue Sour Patch Kids (SPK), you take on a different approach to your frustrations. Your story begins in a movie theatre, about to be devoured by an accountant from New Jersey, when suddenly he suffers from vertigo and you both are left behind (The narrator is the best part of this game). Using the other SPKs you'll find along the way, you’re objective is to try to survive whatever the world has to throw at you, while trying to “save” your red SPK friend who was also left behind at the candy factory. Your quest, essentially, is to pursue the red Sour Patch kid and make amends for “leaving” him, while he periodically ambushes you ever other level or so (it’s kind of strange, I know). He’s not the only problem in your life, however, because other Sour Patch kids you’ll meet along the way are, well… erm, sour about their troubles and decide to take out their anger on you.

The majority of the game involves maneuvering through the environments of garbage and tabletops, all while befriending other SPKs to assist you in your quest . The more of them you have following you, the easier it will be to survive; the more the merrier! These miniature SPK’s follow behind you like baby ducks to their mother, and their purpose is to assist you much like how Pikmin would from the game, well… Pikmin.

You can throw them to attack enemies along the way (like living wads of gum or enraged toys), use them to reach hard-to-reach places and solve puzzles, and basically just use their existence for your own benefit, even if it means throwing them to their doom. The game actually encourages you to sacrifice your SPK minions into flames, buzz saws, fryers, beds of nails, pools of soda, anything to gain a higher point score too. But since losing your minions doesn’t hurt you in any way (they’ll eventually respawn next to you), it makes it easy to increase your point score without losing any lives. This game promotes the savagery towards the SPKs, making it refreshingly humorous, despite the portrayed dark tone.

Creepy, isn't she? Welcome to the Sour Patch Kid world.

This game as a side-scrolling platformer has a lot of things going for it, which took a little bit of time to get the hang of. While the goal of each level in World Gone Sour, as with most platformers, is to reach the end of a level and move onto the next. What makes this game different from most others is what the Sour Patch Kid is able to do in game. I've spent a significant amount of time with the game and began to notice how several concepts have been drawn from most of Nintendo's flagship titles.

Most noticeable was the fact that you use the mini SPKs as your hitpoints. The smaller you are, the less you are able to receive damage before dying, sort of like Mario when he eats mushrooms to grow in size. Each hit from an enemy shrinks you, making you that much closer to being killed by another strike. Green Sour Patch Kid can wall jump similar to Mario, giving both of their games' environments common platforming elements.

Some other similarities I’ve seen with the Green SPK are:

1). He travels with and throws other SPKs for attack or puzzle purposes, like Yoshi’s eggs in Yoshi Story or, like I said before, the Pikmin from Pikmin.

2). He can grind on rails like Sonic the Hedgehog does.

3). Party-poppers used to propel Green SPK around the levels remind me of the barrels that shoot Donkey Kong around his games.

And that’s not the half of it. The second to last boss of the game, the Jack-o-Lantern, fights like Wart from Super Mario Bros. 2. If you’re a fan of Nintendo like I am, then you’ll find a bunch of elements from all of their games on this one. What World Gone Sour doesn’t just take those elements and copy them, the game merges all of them into one neat package, giving you a platformer which has a style all its own.

On the co-op side of things, two players can share the load and take on the candy world as a team, but they must be willing to share the small number of mini SPKs aquired. The number of SPK minions are still the same in 2-player as they are in single player (roughly around 16 SPKs per level); this is where the teamwork really kicks in. You’re going to have to share the SPKs amongst the both of you to successfully complete each level. For instance, say you need to break through a wooden barrier, but you aren’t big enough to break through. More than likely, your partner is carrying most of the SPKs with him and is able to grow big enough to break the door down for you. On the flip side, if he’s too big to get through something, you’ll most likely be the smaller one to be able to do so. This give and take system is World Gone Sour's co-op key to success. And if you want your partner to have minions when you have most of them, just throw them against the wall and let him pick them up. It’s a great tactic to use to prepare for an upcoming boss fight.

There is a competitive side to playing 2-player as well. Players are awarded an MVP based on collectibles and sacrifices completed in a level. I felt this didn't add much to the experience, and in most cases, it ended up getting us killed while trying to compete for items.

Where this game ultimately suffers is in its potential. The music of this game loops excessively, which gets boring after playing level after level in a single session. However, the music video played for you after beating the game, featuring Method Man's single, "The Lonely Kids", makes up for this setback in a heartbeat.

Where's my money?!

Control-wise, I’ve had a lot of trouble completely mastering the wall jump and double jump abilities, only because I don’t think they are as polished as some other platformers out there, such as Super Meat Boy. That being said, I haven’t gone to the trouble of collecting all of the trophies and of the game, but couple of nice achievements will be awarded to you for your efforts, if you choose to go the extra mile. I don’t think I have the patience to go through and search every nook and cranny for a few extra points.

For 400 Microsoft Points, it’s a nice distraction from all the FPS and Sandbox games out there, but it should only hold you over for a few hours with very little replay value. I found that playing the game for speed running helps the difficulty and entertainment aspects of this game, but anything slower than almost full speed will subject you to the never ending music loops and level lengths. However, If you have a co-op buddy willing to play with you, it will give you a much better experience for your dollar. World Gone Sour is a clever way to market a brand of candy in a different way, but it probably won’t be a very a lasting video game in your ever expanding library of titles.

Editor's Note: The Co-Optimus Co-Op Review of  World Gone Sour was based on the XBLA version of the game.