What happens when ogres take over the kingdom and kidnap the Princess? Well, if you’re Chuck Gnome, you go out and take back your kingdom by catapulting copies of yourself at the enemy and destroying them.
Or maybe Chuck is tossing lawn gnome statues? Or his friends? Honestly, I don’t even really know. And I don’t think it’s that important. In Movable Sprites’ new iPhone game Chuck Gnome, the point is to destroy ogres–and targets and mushrooms and lots of other stuff — as quickly as you can.
Here’s how it works. Chuck stands at the ready, right in front of his slingshot. When a target appears, you pull him back and release. Do it gently, and Chuck only goes a short distance. Pull him back a lot and he’ll fly further. You’ll get a special targeting aid, called Gnome Vision, that predicts where your shot will land, but the game is far too fast-paced to rely on it for much. Each target has a point value and you get multipliers by hitting as many of them in a row without missing.
Chuck Gnome is simple, with a whimsical, cartoony look and a lovely soundtrack to match. The action is quick and there’s not a lot of thought to the game. You have 100 seconds to blast as many targets as you can. Certain targets add time to your clock and you try to rack up as high a score as possible in the time available.
The first level, First Flight, serves as a playable tutorial. You learn how to tilt the phone and employ the accelerometer to sneak a few last-ditch throws at targets about to disappear off the screen. What isn’t immediately apparent, however, is how to unlock the levels. The Help section, under Extras, claims that “Key targets unlock new episodes” and that “a key appears after Chuck destroys a specific set of targets.” What it means is that you have to score a certain amount of points, at which point a target shaped like a golden key appears. Hit the key and you unlock the next level.
I consider myself a fairly apt iPhone gamer. I made it over 10,000 meters in Canabalt and my high score in Doodle Jump is in the 50,000s. But evidently I am terrible at Chuck Gnome. After racking up a score of 615,000 on the first level, where targets range from 85 to 150 points and there are only two targets that grant bonuses to time, I have yet to discover the golden key which will supposedly unlock the next level. This is exceptionally frustrating.
My four year-old, who is admittedly a bit young for the game, had a lot of fun with it nonetheless. He loved the sounds of Chuck being launched at the targets and squealed with delight when he finally smashed a mushroom. He began to adjust his swipes at the iPhone screen for better accuracy, but even so, his high score on the first level never got above 2,000. After about half an hour, he was getting a bit tired of the two starter levels. He asked me, “Can I do another level, Michael?” (He refuses to call me “daddy”).
I’m working on it, kid. While I’m waiting at the doctor’s office, at traffic lights, and any other chance I get.
Wired: Simple, fun, addictive carnival style game. Amazing music and art style. Perfect for short burst gameplay.
Tired: Repetitive gameplay. Confusion and high difficulty in unlocking new levels.
Disclosure: TriplePoint PR provided an advance download of Chuck Gnome.