Review by Westen Shelton
"Product Placement is Fun Again"
Using a video game to promote your product (not counting flash games) is one of the stranger decisions a marketing manager can make. You go through a process that is undoubtedly more difficult than making a simple commercial, and in the end, you reach a smaller audience.
It's also a lot tougher to make a good video game than it is to make a good commercial. And when making an advertisement, the goal is to create positive subliminal feelings, not negative ones. Safe to say, Sneak King did not magically make me crave or feel good about Burger King, quite the opposite in fact.
On the rare occasion that you do a promotional video game right though, it can be a powerful tool. It is obviously much more impactful than a 30 second commercial, and it can make you feel good about a product years after you've played it. The epitome of this was the classic Chex Quest, a first person shooter that still helps me enjoy Chex to this day.
The next game to try this promotional video game feat is World Gone Sour. World Gone Sour has two goals, to make you feel good about Sour Patch Kids, and to make you believe that every Sour Patch Kids' dream is to be eaten. While I'm not going to believe that those poor little guys truly enjoy me devouring them (I feel like a sick bastard every time I do it), by god, the game actually made me feel like committing more genocide on these cute, colorful, and sugary creatures. It's actually not too bad.
World Gone Sour is a co-op platformer than can best be described as competent. It has all the standard platforming stuff you've come to expect. There are double jumps, wall jumps, lots of obstacles, some enemies to jump on, etc. The main unique element is that you can collect other little sour patch kids, combine with them to become bigger, or throw them at enemies.
All of these elements work perfectly fine, but none of them are particularly great either. The wall jumps especially can be awkward, and the general platforming just isn't as precise as most platformers. There are some clunky parts where you bounce on enemies when you jump on then (when you should be damaging them), and other small annoyances that pop up on occasion that seemed to show a lack of polish overall. That lack of polish shines through especially in the boss fights, where the aforementioned bouncing problem happened to me several times.
The actual levels that you platform in manage to shine though, which helps cover up some of the flaws of the game. You are a small Sour Patch Kid traveling through a big world, and the level design reflects that. Random household objects become deadly traps, and the game keeps throwing new and varied challenges at you as you go. There is also a remarkably well done difficulty curve. The game goes from the simple platformer you would expect from a game devoted to Sour Patch Kids to devilishly difficult at times. I actually felt some real intensity in later levels, as I navigated the perilous dangers of forks and stovetops with limited lives remaining.
This creative level design also showcases the best part about World Gone Sour, its personality. There is a highly entertaining and slightly creepy narrator who chronicles your adventure, making odd and amusing remarks along the way. The bosses are all sour patch kids who have possessed random objects. You get bonuses for finding all the different ways to kill your sour patch followers in a level (such as sliced or melted or boiled). Not only is this highly entertaining, it is a pretty creative take on level exploration.
I do feel like it is worth mentioning that the game is a bit misleading when it comes to the narrator though. In the demo level of the game, the narrator is present throughout, constantly commenting on your progress, and also serving as a bit of a tutorial helper. He is very entertaining. At the end of the demo, he tells you to buy the game, and promises he has stories from the 60s to tell he ends up never sharing those stories (GASP), and he goes away for long stretches at times. I was a little disappointed with this, as they seemed to use him as a big selling point during the demo, and on the pitch screen. I guess they make up for it by having a friggin rap from METHOD MAN at the end credits.
In the end, Sour Patch Kids is a surprisingly decent platformer oozing with personality, for the low price of $5. I got a game I enjoyed, and now I have a sudden urge to buy Sour Patch Kids along with my Cinnamon Chex when I go to the grocery store. Everyone wins.
Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 05/03/12
Game Release: World Gone Sour (US, 04/11/12)
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