Thursday, December 9, 2010

Gomola Speed


You wouldn't believe how many times I've seen people passing along the good word on this game, how many times I myself was told of its "must own" and "unknown gem" status. And I'm talking about people who know their stuff, reliable guys who had given me solid recommendations in the past and whose game evaluations I won't hesitate to trust in the future; these are not some know-nothing knaves on a backwater web site. Yet, I did not end up merely disliking Gomola Speed--I downright hated it.

It starts off innocuously enough. You begin each round as a, uh, worm head, and you have to zip around Gauntlet-esque mini-maze-type boards to capture your roving body segments.

Your main objective once you start to resemble a full-length creepy crawler rather than a vagabond insect head is to collect the "food" that's just sort of rolling around. You accomplish this by wrapping your creature's newly formed body around the treat--and this is where things go straight to hell for me. And maybe it really is just me, but I find this wrap-around "technique" to be one of the most cumbersome and aggravating play mechanisms I've ever come across. Causing further aggravation are the swift enemies who hound your miserable worm and slice off body segments you retrieved just seconds earlier. Sure, you can destroy these fiends, but first you need to "stun" them with well-placed (read: luckily placed) bombs a la Bomberman (another play mechanism I could live without), and then you have to pull off the constriction business to do them in once and for--well, actually, they won't really be gone for good. They'll just reappear in faster, angrier forms. And, incidentally, some of them can devour your bombs before the explosives detonate. Excellent.

So it really doesn't matter that the Gauntlet similarities made me feel right at home in the Gomola Speed world, or that many of the game's stages contain secret warps and breakable walls that should make them a lot of fun to explore, or that the placement of enemies in relation to board construction is truly ingenious at times. These things don't matter to me because I absolutely hate the principal gameplay elements. At least there are boss fights that are somewhat entertaining (being that for a number of them you gain the ability to shoot fireballs and thus finally employ a comfortable method of waging combat).

As I mentioned earlier, many trustworthy critics have praised this game. The mechanics don't sit well with me at all, but it really might just be me. It probably is. But if it's you too, you're gonna end up with a game you despise here. I'd rather play QBasic Nibbles than slog through this damn thing again.

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