World Gone Sour is a side-scrolling Action Platformer developed by Playbrains, and published by Capcom. It has been released in multiple formats including Games for Windows (PC) at the end of 2011, then on the Xbox 360 Live Arcade on April 10th, 2012. One day later, it was made available on the PlayStation Network. A title based on the Sour Patch Kids gummy, it was priced moderately cheap (400 Microsoft Points on the Live Arcade), finding value at roughly five US dollars. But, at such a low price, and given the quality of other budget product-based titles that were released, such as the illfated and free Yaris, is this even worth your time?
Surprisingly, World Gone Sour is a rather dark title, though it doesn’t start off that way. The narration gives away the main concept of the game: Candy loves to be eaten. In this slightly upbeat opening, you are then introduced to the main gummy, and the various pictures and spoken words introduce to you a mishap that finds you thrown into a garbage can, thus starting your adventure towards being devoured. One of the elements that will catch you are guard is the cursing. Some end up being too dirty in the end for some reason, and can be censored, while others aren’t during some of the story board-esque scenes. This is told largely through the third person, and can break into game play with random moments like shouting “Patchy!!!” when you die, or an explanation that your partner will come back to life at the next check point (though it also happens at previous ones too). As you continue through the title, you wind up in more locations than just the movie theater, such as a little girl’s room after being stepped on and carried away, which can often have really twisted toys, including the doll that makes for a boss fight later on.
The audio here isn’t really much to gloat about. The score for the game isn’t that memorable, though it does kind of fit the often dark humor and childish concept, giving it a bit of a Family vibe despite some of the rougher, more mature language and twisted visuals. The narration is handled with a slight Southern trucker kind of style that does have a bit of a soft-spoken approach to it. However, it can really become annoying, especially while playing in co-op if you have a partner that is not so good, or you just have a hard time as well. Hearing “Patchy!!!” constantly, and the explanation of how to revive a player every time someone dies does become irritating over a short amount of time. The sound effects, and even some of the young voices for the gummies used are well suiting, and can again play up that Family game night sort of atmosphere, but sometimes they can go beyond a voice, and can be mistaken for a toy or even the squeek of a mouse. The other sound effects do sound natural, and while nothing too impressive, they get the job done well enough for what you pay for.
As mentioned, the visuals here are pretty dark, but accompanying that is a bit of a rougher touch that seems a little more along the lines of a PlayStation 2 title. While this would normally be bad, it really does give the game a gritty appearance that feels right at home for it. There’s never anything too spectacular to look at though, aside the random cymbal banging monkey you’ll happen on every once in a while with its insanely creepy smile. The backgrounds are good enough to convey the location, and the levels utilize every day objects like discarded boxes, pencils, etc., to full effect in coming up with the stages, though sometimes they can feel a bit extravagant in design for their locations. Some of the enemies are simple enough, but the dust on the dust bunnies looks ok when they jump, and the explosions of duct tape ducks with m-80s gets the point across. However, the balls of energy that nine volt batteries can shoot at you are very weak, and people who are color blind may very well have a hard time deciphering them. The real joy comes from the cut scenes with what appear to be hand drawn artwork that caters to a comic book style with some nice camera panning here and there, and a once in a while comical addition of things like giant white text with the obscentiy replaced by random symbols.
Of course, what can you really expect for a game as simple as this? The main objective is simply to be eaten, and you have to go on a large journey for it to happen. Along the way, each new setting introduces a new boss, and an explanation as to what happened to make the gummy evil. The most disturbing of them was the little girl’s room for a tear party, and a Sour Patch Kid gummy is fed to a doll. The gummy, driven crazy by the toy, altered the doll to the point where it’s controlled from the front dress pocket to attack and kill any others that come their way. There are some memorable areas of the title, and you do end up feeling a little bit for your character, such as when he (or she?) is squished in the movie theater and you move on to another area instead of reaching the character that bought you at the concession stand. However, some of these transitions can be rather poor and make you question how the giant leap came about, while others, such as the mother finding the altered doll and thinking her daughter did it, can give you a few chuckles.
But, the main issue with World Gone Sour greatly stems from the controls, and certain visual points. Here and there you will encounter issues with the camera not being pointed in the proper way to make a jump easier, but that’s rare in single player. However, in co-op, the screen automatically follows whoever is the furthest ahead, so if you are behind, you will have to wait to be teleported to the furthest ahead player, or go back so your partner can get over an obstacle they can no longer see well enough to handle. On top of that, jumping becomes a problem in general. While the controls are a bit slow but respond well enough when moving, growing or shrinking in size, or doing a belly flop on the ground to open a new path, jumping seems to que up the commands. Nothing is more frustrating in this title than performing a double jump and not moving the way you want, or landing and automatically jumping again. You can easily fall off an edge when not close enough for it to happen, and then go to jump, causing a second one instead of your first. This often sends you back to the start of that obstacle, or to your death. Wall jumping is nearly impossible sometimes, as you have to jump onto the wall, and it have to be specifically timed. You have to stick your character, and many times you’ll think you are, but when you try to make your next move, you find you’re simply falling back to the ground instead.
Points are accumulated by picking up little green candies, yellow stars, or activating limited red stars for a larger one with a better boost to your score. They are distributed among the two gummies in co-op, and an MVP award shows up on the gummy that got the most points in co-op. There are also followers you can pick up in each level, various secrets, and eight ways to die that earn you points, such as you, your partner, or a follower being sliced apart, burning, exploding, etc. Other than that, it’s a simple title that has you jumping on enemies and over obstacles. However, sometimes you will have to defeat enemies and bosses by being larger in size, and doing a belly flop onto them in mid air. Some, like the aforementioned doll battle, will also cause you to do some buttonc ommands, such as one button to initiate an attack, and mashing another to make it happen.
But, the biggest surprise is that World Gone Sour is actually a pretty long title for a product-based game. There are a decent amount of worlds to play through, though it can still be accomplished in one day. Of course, given the issues in the controls, it more than likely won’t be one sitting unless you have the extended time, as well as the patience. Playing co-op has it’s ups and downs, but ends up being rather easy to get going. There’s no on-line play, but locally your partner can opt to join it during the stage select screen. Sadly, there’s no drop in or drop out during gameplay, which means if you’re already involved in a game, you would have to exit it and choose to continue the game in order to bring someone in. The only other issue is that some achievements will not unlock for your partner, but only player one. There’s a total of twelve with all secret achievements being story bosed. There are some for killing your followers, which are additional gummies you pick up that you can attack enemies with, use to grow in size, etc., as well as collecting all the secrets in each stage, represented by large trophies, and even one for completing a stage in co-op. Of course, this is more a materialistic gripe than anything.
But, all in all, World Gone Sour is actually a surprisingly fun little budget title. It does have a good share of flaws in the controls, and some of the story doesn’t quite end up bridged together well enough, but you can still make sense out of most of it. This definitely is not a high quality production, but it’s one of the better budget titles to hit these services in quite a while. If you happen to be bored and have some spare cash to blow, there isn’t really any reason to ignore this release.