Chuck Gnome
Reviewed by Minna Kim Mazza
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2010-08-27 iPhone Arcade E (Everyone) Movable Sprites

With a name like "Chuck Gnome," you have to be intrigued by what the game is all about. No, it's not about a gnome named Chuck, though I suppose you could give him that name. Instead, think of the other definition of "chuck" and you'll get the idea pretty quickly as you wait for the game to finish loading.

So you have a gnome, donning cool shades and a giant grin, floating in the air by an idyllic backdrop of hills and the occasional enchanted castle. Of course what you will find out soon is that this is a game that involves flinging these cute gnomes with a giant slingshot at various targets. It's reminiscent of old-school carnival games where you are shooting targets held by sticks and attached to a conveyor-belt mechanism. The well-designed backgrounds and creature graphics also give a very polished feel, and definitely invokes the feeling of shooting paper targets, but in a fantasy setting.

I will tell you one thing - I had the darndest time getting a good rhythm and feel for the slingshot. You fling the gnomes by holding the sling, dragging it down with your finger, and then releasing. However it seemed very easy for me to overshoot my target. There is a little launch path guide to help you, but either I'm still not quite doing it right, or I don't understand the launch path mechanics. Also, stuff is flying by pretty quickly, so it's hard to use that launch path all the time, because it takes some time to activate. You can also tilt your screen to help get that last monster around the hill before it escapes behind the edge of the screen. I would definitely suggest you go to "Extras" and then "Settings" to calibrate your phone to this game, because well, anything helps. I've found that the smaller the movements, the better.

Your first play option is the "First Flight" level, where you will start shooting point targets, evil looking clouds, and strange cardboard box-like creatures that are moving down and across the hilly backdrop. You will notice that if you tilt your phone, the background moves with you. I never found this super useful, but I suppose it can help get that target that JUST moved out of your sight. You need to meet a certain criteria per level to advance and unlock new levels, as only two levels are available to you at the start. You have a time limit to meet the criteria, or else it's game over. Some criteria include shooting a certain number of monsters. As you hit the right targets, they will flash, letting you know that those are the right ones to hit (it's not immediately obvious). You'll know that you've gotten all of them when you see a golden key moving across for you to shoot - once you shoot it, you unlock the new level. Which again, is not very easy to do either.

I will have to say, this game was definitely testing my nerves. There would be times when I meant to pull the sling gently and yet WHEE goes my gnome a thousand feet into the air... then other times he faceplants into the low hills. It's frustrating, yet somehow I keep playing this game again and again. And I can't say that it's the gnome's sound effects and exclamations, which are tolerable at best. It's the fleeting feeling that I COULD have played that better, that even if I play one level perfectly and hit those extra time mushrooms every chance, the next level I play could utterly fail at doing anything productive.

It's a testament to any game that frustrates and infuriates, yet entices you to come back for more.

They have also been adding newer updates to the game, the latest one as of this review is outlined here.

Special thanks to Sam Dalsimer at TriplePointPR for providing a copy of this game for review.