You know, in every movie, book or song where someone doesn't like Christmas they always change by the end. Their heart grows a couple sizes and they send a child to buy ridiculously large turkeys. Heck, even mean Mr. Potter becomes the compassionate and beloved president Franklin Delano Roosevelt at the end of "It's A Wonderful Life." At least, I think that's what happened... I have a poor attention span and an even worse grasp of history...
My point is it's high time things got shaken up and Garden Gnome Carnage, a retro arcade defense title from Ludosity Interactive and Remar Games, delivers that shock to the status quo. You control the Christmas hating gnome who is doing his best to stop an army of Santas, elves and presents from spreading cheer. Your gnome achieves this by putting a brick apartment building on wheels, attaching a rope to the chimney and whirling yourself around like a... like a gnome attached to a chimney.
You'll move the building back and forth with the [arrow] keys, and this'll also help guide your spinning gnome, who can take down enemies by colliding with them. Hit the [spacebar] to grab a brick from the building, then hit it again to throw it. If you get overwhelmed, give the [shift] key a tap to call in an air strike.
Garden Gnome Carnage starts out slow, but the chaos ramps up quickly. It won't be long until the sky will be filled with flying sleighs and there's a horde of elves climbing up your buildings walls. The only goal is to see how long you can survive. It does get old after awhile, but for quite a long time you'll be engrossed in trying to hit things with your gnome.
Analysis: As shallow as the game may seem on the surface, there's quite a bit that's not immediately apparent. The instructions are very sparsely supplied over two screens, but there's a lot you're not told. For instance, if you hold the down [arrow] all the bricks will explode off your building in an attack similar to an air strike, or that when you fill up the whopee! meter and hit [shift] you're taken to a quick mini-game where you can grab gold to add to your score. You can find some of this information on the pause screen. This strange quirk is a little annoying, but it is kind of fun when something unexpected happens.
Garden Gnome Carnage's graphics have a nice retro look to them. There's nothing particularly impressive about them, but they compliment the simplicity of the game. The music is kind of repetitive, but it has a great '80s synth vibe to it that's funky enough to keep it from getting old too fast. It's too bad that the sound effects get pretty annoying. It's not so bad at the start when it's mostly just the soft chimp-like cries of the elves, but it doesn't take long to get annoying That's not to say that the sound effects are poorly done, they just become a little oppressive.
Garden Gnome Carnage is a fun, simple game that lives up to its name. It's not a game that'll keep you involved for days, but it can get addicting and intense. When the game starts to flag, you'll run into something you weren't told about like getting reinforcements in the form over another spinning gnome. Without any apparent way to win there's not much to keep you going after awhile, but until then you'll have a great time smashing elves in the name of destroying Christmas cheer.