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August 10, 2014

Demo Review 16: Gnomz

What, the Gnomz again? Eeyup. What are the little bearded guys doing this time? They're fighting! This is not an adventure game! This demo lets us try one mode, Smash Match, but there are two additional modes unavailable, Capture the Sock and Socker. I'll make a wild guess and say this is the first Gnomz game that came out, the second one being, well... 2 Fast 4 Gnomz.

This being a demo, you have no choice on the environments, the length of the matches, or the color of your gnome. All you can do is run headfirst into battle. Or, the kind of battle they're doing. See, all the gnomes can actually do is jump on each other's head, Mario Stomp-style. They do that around colorful, detailed 2D arenas. Also, each gnome can pick up a sock – each sock has a special effect – and possibly gain an advantage over the other gnomes. A sock turns a gnome invisible, one summons a helper, another turns the gnome into a dangerous barbarian. One summons a giant rainbow.

Here's one problem with the demo: The enemy gnomes are either too smart or too lucky. As I realized, sometimes the program would record a score of 1 for an enemy gnome who didn't even step on another, just ran face-to-face to him! But that's not the worst part. When that bug happens? It happens usually to YOU. You lose, you don't get the point. Likewise, if opponents gain abilities thanks to the magic socks, you can be sure the player character is gonna pay double.

Maybe it's not the experience you got if you tried the demo. It's the experience I got. Call it a bias if you wish. I'll fully admit that this review is biased on a bad playthrough. But those things I've noticed are signs of a game that goes against the player by making things harder to him/her, and arguably easier to the CPUs, who then become dangerous foes. Ever felt like a game cheated on you? Yeah, it's exactly that. (I have the same problems with Mario Party.)

I really despised this playthrough. Gnomz lacks the fun of its sequel, 2 Fast 4 Gnomz, which is not a multiplayer game and is equally hard... but it's a lot better as you can learn how to avoid the numerous traps that are guaranteed to appear in every level. For Gnomz, there's no such thing, as the enemies are unpredictable, they appear to get better bonuses, and of course, they're programmed to be better than you.

I hate when games do that.

Though, to be fair, the graphics are nice, the controls function correctly, and this could be a great game if the programming was corrected. But I really didn't like it. Would you? The Demo's free, go ahead, have a blast. Or a bad time. Either way, this is just my opinion, don't treat it as fact.