Looking neither like gum nor a boy, Gumboy is a red and green googly eyed, gelatinous blob that rolls around and can change into various shapes. Gumboy is a puzzle game that incorporates a fair amount of physics. The goal of the game is to carefully move an object, whether it be fairy dust or magical beans, back to the beginning of the level where you were originally assigned the task.
The levels are split into five different locations, including 11 tutorial levels. There are roughly 40 levels in all, which may not seem like much for a puzzle game, but it can get to a point where you wish it would all end already. The controls are simple. You hold the left and right arrow keys to get Gumboy rolling. Holding down the control key will give you the extra power you need to get over some of the larger hurdles. In red and green jelly form, this is fine, but if you're fluttering around as a water star (looks like a starfish) or trying to push a water bubble, too much force will result in starting again, because like real water bubbles, they will burst.
Maneuvering Gumboy in his various forms can be tricky, and finding the exact amount of "oomph" to get him over certain bumps can be irritating after several attempts. Even in the first few levels, trying to finish before the bonus time runs out is not easy unless you know exactly where you're going. There is an arrow that will guide you in the general direction. By general, I mean it's like telling someone to keep going straight, and they'll eventually get there. That's what this arrow is like — a tease.
While you're guiding the requested item back to the owner, there are various power-ups you pick up along the way. Gumboy can grab a hiccup seed that allows him to jump using the up arrow key. Some of the power-ups have limited uses, but the items will repop, so you can always grab them again. There is a power-up that makes Gumboy sticky so that he'll roll and stick onto walls and defy gravity. But if he's gum, shouldn't he stick anyway?
The level designs are well thought out, but my biggest challenge was not so much about where to go, but how to get my object to where it needs to be or how to grab the items I need to get. The game appears to be relatively easy since the levels themselves don't seem complicated, but after going through the tutorials (some of which took me awhile to figure out), I was still not very prepared for the real levels.
The graphics are a bit on the fancy side for this type of game. It's obvious that they put a lot of work into the presentation and a lot of detail in the lush environments. The way the fairy dust spills over like flowing sugar with bits flying everywhere, the amount of detail is amazing. It's just unfortunate that Gumboy looks like a snail shell with creepy eyes and the beans really look like eggplant. Gumboy also mutters random things like "shibbi shibbi shibbi," and the other characters you'll come across along the way don't really say anything coherent either. With gusty winds as the main part of the soundtrack, the game actually feels very intense since it's so deathly quiet. When a water bubble pops, it actually startles me to the point where I'm not really up for doing it again.
What I didn't like is the user interface when you start the game. It's clever that they used Gumboy to roll and select your menu options, but it's slow and cumbersome, and it took me awhile to realize the exit game option was off to the side and that I had to squeeze into a burrow to quit the game.
Maybe I just don't have the patience for this type of game. Actually, I'm fairly certain that I don't have the patience. It's not one of those brainless games in which you jump from level to level with ease; it actually takes a bit of thought and careful calculation to figure out how to get your item from point A to point B. The lack of music also made things seem way too intense. If it was more of a happy-go-lucky sort of beat, maybe it would have been more entertaining or "cute." Gumboy was just too eerie and bizarre for me. I went in with completely different expectations, considering the name of the game. I thought it would be more bouncy, happy and fun.
Gumboy is not a bad game — it's well put together, and it provides a challenge for those who are looking for it. The physics system is definitely worth checking out, and if you happen to be good at moving water bubbles in a creative fashion, then this could be the game for you.