'You must find a princess and collect socks.'
Yes, that’s how the game starts. The Gnome King gives you that directive, reflective of the odd humor strewn throughout the game. 2 Fast 4 Gnomz is a runner-style game where you charge forward endlessly, jumping over pits, avoiding obstacles, and collecting socks. Because.
The game’s similar to Bit.Trip Runner in that you can perform a few different moves, and each world introduces a new power. Eventually, you’ll be able to glide while pressing up while jumping, charge like a bull while pressing down, speed up by pressing right, and turn back time by pressing left. Mastering these different forms, which can be rapidly toggled, is fun and rewarding.
2 Fast 4 Gnomz is pretty unforgiving and not designed in a way where you can complete levels optimally on your first try. The game moves too fast to immediately react to everything you see, so there’s a lot of trial and error and memorization of maneuvering sequences. It throws you into new situations where you must rapidly switch between the forms. And even when it provides a brief instruction of the new situation, they only tell you half the story. It can be satisfying to hit all the right combos, but then they’ll throw a tree stump or something at the end, which throws off your rhythm. Luckily, there are many checkpoints, but occasionally, you’ll hit a spot that you may have to retry dozens of times.
There are 45 levels, which are relatively short, but increasingly brutal, and each must be cleared in sequence to progress to the next. On top of completing the levels, there’s the other goal of collecting all the socks, which may necessitate traveling down different pathways. There's also a promised "nightmare" mode, which sounds painful.
Despite the speed and challenge, the game features a whimsical style that encompasses the graphics, music, and humor. It incorporates some hand drawn and Flash-style art and takes advantage of the 3D. I wouldn’t recommend using it for too long, however, The game is constantly moving with multiple layers shifting at different speeds, including effects like leaves flying in your face. It might just make you ill.
2 Fast 4 Gnomz originally debuted on WiiWare. Some of the criticisms of that version have been remedied. The controls are responsive. The backgrounds have been lightened and the parallax increased to make it easier to distinguish obstacles from scenery. Unfortunately, there is still some ambiguity in foreground objects that can trip you up. The only degradation is that the text didn’t make a smooth transition to the 3DS, appearing strangely squashed.
The game now gives a pair of three-star ratings for each level, one for the number of lives used, and one for the number of socks collected. This aids replayability over the original version, which did not log concrete goals. Time trials are unlocked after level 20 is completed.
2 Fast 4 Gnomz straddles the line between addictive and infuriating. The quick nature of the levels makes the game perfect for the portable console. The quirky game arrives in the eShop on November 1 in North America.