World Gone Sour|
Product placement is rampant in the world today. You can't watch a movie, TV show or even play a video games, i.e. Burnout Paradise, now without seeing a cleverly (or obvious) placed advertisement. So imagine my surprise when I found about the new action adventure title World Gone Sour, by developer Playbrains, for Xbox LIVE Arcade. World Gone Sour is one big product placement revolving around the "Sour Then Sweet" candy known as Sour Patch Kids.
Now I can probably guess what you're thinking. Trust me; I had my doubts going into the review process myself, but after seeing one Sour Patch Kid shank another Sour Patch Kid and drag him off the Menu screen I knew that World Gone Sour was going to be something special. The story of this action adventure platformer follows a green Sour Patch Kid who's only goal in life is to make it into the tummy of a human. This event is apparently destined to happen in a movie theatre as the player starts out their journey in a garbage can after his potential destiny trips.
World Gone Sour features a very simple concept to get your Sour Patch Kid to its ultimate destination. What you don't know at first is that you'll have plenty of obstacles and enemies in your way. If you've ever wondered what happens to those snacks that get dropped on theatre floors or inside your couch cushion then World Gone Sour is here with the answer. These discarded snacks truly go mad, seeking evil ways to try and stop you from achieving your own happy ending. There are also several other enemies to defeat such as wads of gum, old nachos and cheese, flying origami pigeons with firecrackers and broken light bulbs.
Players must use the seemingly simple means of jumping on their enemies to dispatch them as well as moving through, over and under items that we see everyday at the theatres, home, and even the shed in your back yard. So that set of alphabet blocks spelling ominous words will act as platforms used to avoid dangerous soda spills. There are even working industrial deep fryers and straws that you will have to jump and slide across, sometimes with pinpoint accuracy, to avoid meeting a horrible candy death. The one problem I had throughout the game is that the controls are not completely refined and it makes for some awkward jumping maneuvers such as jumping off walls.
World Gone Sour reminded me of games from my childhood and brings some really interesting features to the side-scrolling platformer. For starters, as you are making your way through the 9+ levels you will come across several little Sour Patch Kids scattered about the levels who will follow you. These little guys serve several purposes. In addition to a score boost if you bring a designated number to the end of each level, you can throw them through blocked passages and at switches to unlock doors or timed platforms.
The coolest thing that you can do is absorb your followers into your character to make him several times larger, allowing you to jump up and slam down on harder enemies and obstructions to proceed. You can also take two hits from an enemy before you die from a third hit which is useful. The downside is that you make yourself a bigger target for the many hazards in each level, but you can always release the absorbed followers to get small again so you can get to places that you can't reach while big. This the perfect way to find hidden cubby holes and pathways to pick up hidden green gummies and extra life pieces as well as finding more followers as well as collecting stars for a high level score.
I have to say that I love the wickedly designed levels and enemies created from items that, to us, pose no real threat by themselves but to a little piece candy, can be a total nightmare. Each level features backdrops that are intentionally blurred out enough to give you an idea of where you are supposed to be while keeping the foreground graphics sharp and often times menacing. I haven't seen such evil looking stylized surroundings and enemies since watching the Gwendy dolls attack the stars in Small Soldiers. The set pieces are awesome but nothing takes the cake like the girls bedroom in the middle section of World Gone Sour. There are things in that room like knives, cinderblocks and waffle irons that just give you the creeps, as no one in their right mind would have them there. I really do love the clever and imaginative use of everyday items to make a nightmare landscape for the main Sour Patch Kid though.
While you make your way through the levels in World Gone Sour you are treated to some upbeat music in the background giving it a surreal feeling that something's just not right in that world. Despite being a semi-dark atmospheric story there is quite a bit of humor coming from Creed Bratton(The Office) who narrates the entire game. His humor almost never gets old unless you have to hear it over and over again after failed attempts to get through the trickier moments that the game has to offer. For those that actually make it to roughly the halfway point (not to hard) you are rewarded with an unlocked music video featuring Method Man and the Sour Patch Kids. The music single to the video is also available on iTunes.
There is a bit of replay to World Gone Sour as there are several collectibles and optional objectives that you can complete to boost your in-game score or that coveted Gamerscore if your so inclined. For instance there are five hidden SPK statues hidden somewhere in each of the non-boss level to locate and an accompanying achievement if you find them all. Some of them are tricky and you have to look EVERYWHERE to find them.
If you have a friend you can team up for some local two player co-op action through the entire adventure, which makes things like dying less painful and finding collectibles a little easier. As long as one player makes it to the next checkpoint the other player is revived. There is also the rather cool and bittersweet act of sacrificing either yourself or your followers (preferably them) in one of 8 different ways in each level for an added score. As a piece of candy you can be sliced in half, melted, drowned, blown to bits, flipped off screen, set on fire, crushed and skewered if your not careful. It's a sour life for the little guys.
I walked into World Gone Sour expecting to receive a sour experience but walked away with a wickedly sweet feeling after making my way through some cleverly designed levels and gameplay. World Gone Sour is a nice step away from the rather droll advertizing titles that came before it and can be purchased for a mere 400 points ($5.00) via Xbox Live. While World Gone Sour is not as refined as some titles itís a sinisterly enjoyable adventure and I would definitely recommend checking it out.