simple, fun gameplay; frenetic multiplayer; quirky charm
steep price; little content, particularly for single-players
In some ways, Gnömz has quite a bit in common with Angry Birds– both are simple, addictive games that lend themselves well to quick play sessions; both were crafted by small independent developers; and, most importantly, both bear more than a passing resemblance to an existing online game (in this particular case, Super Mario War). This is not necessarily a criticism– like Angry Birds, Gnömz is able to differentiate itself from its inspiration with a style and charm all its own, but where Rovio’s game succeeded– namely in its pricing and variety– Gnömz stumbles, hindered by its steep cost and its lack of substantial content.
For those unfamiliar with the title, Gnömz can best be described as a single-screen battle game. Players compete in twenty-five hazard-filled stages, stomping on their opponents and collecting socks (??) as dictated by the rules set prior to each round. There are three different game modes to choose from, each of which offers a slight variation on the aforementioned premise: Capture the Sock has players vying for possession of the specified piece of hosiery; Smash Match is a straightforward battle mode in which players compete to achieve the most kills; and Socker has players striving to collect the most socks within the allotted time limit. Each mode adds its own little wrinkle to the underlying game design (be it through specific power-ups or tweaks to the mechanics), but for the most part they are all quite similar. Up to four players can compete in any of the challenges, with an additional four AI opponents able to join the fray as well.
Yes, that fawn is wrapped in Christmas lights. I don’t know why, either.
Despite the few modes available, the game is undeniably fun. Players control their avatars with the Wii Remote turned sideways, moving about with the D-Pad and leaping with the 2 button. Simple as they may be, the controls are tight and responsive, making it a lot of fun just to hop about the game’s colorful stages. Respawn times are also mercifully short, allowing you to rejoin the fight almost instantaneously after you perish. The title’s biggest strength, however, is its multiplayer. It is here where the game quickly descends into frenetic chaos as players race to collect the socks and power-ups strewn about the stages before their opponents can. The title does only support local play, but that is almost a nonissue– there is something deeply satisfying in besting your closest friends in person (particularly when you do so by unleashing a deadly rainbow on them), and that same sense of gratification would likely be lost in an impersonal online match.
Unfortunately, Gnömz’s reliance on multiplayer also proves to be something of a double-edged sword. While the game shines brightest when played with up to three friends, it has little to offer to solo-players. It is still quite fun even when competing against AI opponents, but the paltry amount of content here makes it difficult to sustain your interest in the game for very long. Couple this with its steep asking price and it is difficult to rationalize choosing this particular title over any other multiplayer-centric release on WiiWare.
It would certainly be easier to recommend Gnömz if it were even half its cost, but as it stands there is far too little content in the game to justify its $10 price tag, especially when there are more fully-featured titles like Bomberman Blast available on the service for the same amount of money. This is a shame because what is here is a lot of fun, particularly if you often have friends over, and the game could very well have become a party staple had it been priced more reasonably. If money is no object then you will likely find some enjoyment in this little battler, but otherwise it would perhaps be best to spend your Wii points elsewhere.
Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard criteria.