To make a great game, you need more than just technical or artistic competence.

The classics over the years have always had that special something – an intangible quality that propels what would have been a decent title into the stratosphere of greatness.

World of Goo is such a game. Its charm, style, and execution on iPad is nearly flawless. Even more impressively, playing this version makes it hard to go back to the original PC version, so superb is the way the game has been adapted to the large touchscreen.

Goo-d vibrations

The basic idea is to create structures that help your little goo balls get to a suction pipe, which is usually located over a large ravine or past a variety of equally treacherous obstacles.

Rather than laying down steel girders and employing a fleet of migrant workers, you accomplish this by latching said goo balls together. Each new goo ball must link with at least two existing balls, which results in a triangular construction.

It doesn’t take too long to realise such a structure won’t cut it against the brilliant physics engine. Long, unsupported bridges and towers sway violently, mainly due to the blasted goo balls and their love for rushing around newly constructed areas. The first few levels are spent cursing the little creatures as your beautiful bridges collapse.

Tower of goo

It’s hard to get too annoyed, though, as everything from the sounds your goo balls make when they’re being placed to the surrealistic nature of the scenery oozes charm and style.

Where else, for instance, can you build a floating bridge out of a giant toad's mouth, or have a narrator that regularly mocks gaming and cryptically hints at a sinister ulterior motive?

The level design, too, is brilliant, with each new stage offering up either a new type of goo or some crazy new concept that throws your previous tactics out the window. For example, one early level constantly rotates, thereby sending what was once a vertical construction bouncing around horizontally.

The act of building said constructions is as simple as touching the goo ball, dragging it to the spot you want, and then letting go. You may find yourself moving two or three at once – something that just wasn’t possible in previous versions.

This combined with its inherently tactile nature makes iPad the definitive platform to play this unusual puzzler.

Touch and goo

It does, however, lack level-specific leaderboards. Although this isn’t so bad considering that the World of Goo Corporation – a special level in which you use spare goo balls to construct a higher tower than other players – remains intact.

There’s also no way of zooming in and out, which is frustrating on larger levels. Additionally, the framerate isn’t entirely smooth on some occasions, but never to the extent that it affects the gameplay.

These are small niggles when compared to the bigger picture. World of Goo on the iPad is charming, stylish, intelligent, and fantastic to control.

Taken individually, these elements would be enough to create a good game, combine them and you get something truly special.

Want more? Check out our growing collection of World of Goo articles!