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Gnomz - WiiWare Review

Game Info

WiiWare | Qubic Games | 1-4 Players | Out Now | 1,000 Nintendo Points
Controller Compatibility: Wii Remote (sideways)
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14th December 2011; By KnucklesSonic8

A sock-collecting, gnome-battling mishmash of ideas, Gnomz is a mildly interesting slapstick fighting title for the WiiWare service. Brought to us by the developers of AiRace -- the successful racing title on DSiWare -- Gnomz is the team's first release on this platform. With a concept that would otherwise seem normal amongst other freeware PC games, Gnomz does attract a bit of attention at first glance if only because of its randomness. Gnomz attempts to shape this kind of lively atmosphere through its gameplay, but as it turns out, the dull nature of the experience completely crowds out any well-intentioned efforts the developers might have had.

    The game adopts a simple premise where instead of engaging in hands-on fisticuffs, the main gimmick has players jump on each other's heads. You might say Gnomz has been influenced a bit by the likes of Super Mario Bros. In any event, the game design is very minimalistic with players running around confined platform-based environments. Taking the form of items, socks will occasionally pop up during play, providing temporary effects like reducing everyone else's speed or turning your gnome into a viking. The rainbow-triggering socks are probably the best part about the game in the way they catch opponents off guard as a distraction technique.

    The controls are super easy to understand. Move with the D-Pad, jump with the 2 Button and press 1 to highlight your character when you don't know where they are on the field. That's all there is to know, making it easy to jump into even if you've never played before. Up to four players can take part in the action, with the option to add another four computer players into the mix if you wish. 

Gnomz features three modes to choose from: Capture the Sock, Smash Match and Socker. In the first, you need to hold onto a single sock for as long as possible to slowly rack up points. In Smash Match, players will earn points each time they temporarily knock out an opponent with a head stomp. And finally, Socker involves gathering as many socks as possible. In all modes, you can set the time limit to different increments or set it up so you're aiming for a set amount of points instead.

    Out of the three, the only mode I had some issues with was Socker. In it, jumping on someone's head will daze them for a few seconds, forcing them to stand (or float) in place for a few seconds. This might have seen like a funny move to the developers, but because it slows things down and presents possibilities for abuse, this actually proves to be a weak decision. With the other modes, though, the idea of seeing gnomes do battle is far from serious and instead seems like something the developers tried to create as a means for friends to settle an ongoing score through brief -- and rather primitive -- methods.

    Further evidencing that Gnomz doesn't take itself seriously is the audio that's heard during gameplay. Aside from sounding Irish in origin, the background tracks are typically generic with little else worth talking about. Distracting you from the music are the bouncing sound effects you'll hear over and over again as you play the game. Thankfully, these can be turned off via the Pause Menu, but in a sense, it actually makes the action have even less of a connection with players. A no-win scenario, I suppose.

On the subject of presentation, the levels seen throughout often have bright colours that are in line with the magical feel the game is going for. Backgrounds are fairly simple in appearance with a bit of layering going on that does little to counter the static look. The most excitement you'll see on-screen lies with the surprise rainbow explosions. All other effects tied to the characters or elements of the levels are too minor to be worth noting. By the look of things, I wouldn't be surprised at all to learn that Gnomz was developed in a very short time frame. Because everything is so basic, the Qubic Games has managed to pack in a good number of stages, but this doesn't exactly mean a whole lot.

    From a critical perspective, the entire thing is hardly anything to write home about. The game features elementary level designs with little in the way of gimmicks to even make the basic stuff "come to life" in a way that will keep players genuinely entertained and satisfied. Gnomz isn't nearly as amusing as the screenshots might suggest. Far from it. Except maybe on the off chance that you and your friends make an embarrassing fumble, there's not much amusement to be had from this game. So this then brings up the question, is it a fun game for kids to play? It's hard to say to be quite honest, for the very reasons stated above. When a group of kids come into the picture, the game is merely seen a passable effort initially. But again, what I said still stands even in this scenario: the game design appears primitive with not nearly as much fun to offer as the screenshots might suggest.

    Gnomz fails to hold your attention for very long, as I found it easy to zone out and feel disconnected from what was taking place on the TV screen. Despite attempts to infuse the game with a sense of personality, everything about the game feels flat and one-dimensional with absolutely no depth to speak of. If you're typically attracted to games with this sort of design, then you might not have a problem with the nature of the gameplay itself. However, I'd argue that you're much better off sticking to the multiplayer titles you already keep on-hand for gatherings amongst friends, since they're almost guaranteed to be more compelling than Gnomz.

So what does Gnomz offer in the way of additional content? Well, as I said before, there are lots of levels to choose from, but it isn't a major accomplishment in itself since the designs are so basic. Aside from that, there's a totally random button on the Main Menu that will rotate the on-screen layout while a turkey gobbles. Yeah, I thought that was weird too... Since there's nothing else to carry the experience, it can be said that Gnomz is a pretty compact game with little for players to immerse themselves in. And for a game that's priced at 1,000 Points, it's not unreasonable to expect more from the game.

    Kids might have some brief laughs with this, but that's about it. No matter how you look at it, Qubic Games' debut WiiWare release just isn't worth the time. It could've definitely been a lot worse, but I still can't recommend this game. Even if the cost of the game was less, I just can't see any reason why Gnomz would be worth adding to your list of regular multiplayer options.

14/30 - Very Poor

Gameplay 5/10 - Very primitive game design, battle stages are really basic, lacks depth or endearing features, easy controls, special sock items
Presentation 5/10 - Simple backgrounds, aims for a magical look with rainbows and lots of colour, annoying sound effects, execution falters in Socker mode
Enjoyment 2/5 - Stumbles can be amusing on occasion, primitive nature of the game becomes a turn-off over time, dull even in groups, passable at best
Extra Content 2/5 - Features a good number of stages, no additional content to carry the experience, there are much better multiplayer games out there

Equivalent to a score of 47% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating) - Our Rating System

Review by KnucklesSonic8

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