Sky Gnomes ($0.99) by Foursaken Media is a multiplayer racing game where you pilot a gnome with a snow-gobbling flying machine, racing against other players piloting their own gnomes.
Races take place high up in the sky, where machines can run on snow. The goal is to gather up snowflakes and coins while speeding downwards towards the landing zone as quickly as possible. You will need to avoid dangerous elements like clouds and shafts of sunlight, which slow down your flying machine.
Machines have simple, one touch controls that are easy to pick up (a single piloting stick). Gameplay is easy, based mostly on avoidance, though as you upgrade your machine to be faster, steering becomes a bit more difficult.
Every day there’s a new racing tournament, which is played entirely against other players. Players are divided up by skill level (determined by achievements, which I’ll explain later) and placed into a racing bracket with nine other players for a series of time-delayed races.
Essentially you’re racing against the recorded races of other users, which allows for online multiplayer gaming without live connections.
It’s a neat concept, and each player can race as many times as they want. Races are short, but dynamically generated, so each race is different. The top three players each day will earn trophies and coins, though every player will earn coins and spare parts after each race.
Coins and spare parts are used for the extensive upgrading system, which is another game element that makes Sky Gnomes such a fantastic racing game. There are upgrades for speed, acceleration, and efficiency, plus trinkets and power ups to unlock.
Trinkets are modifications that enhance your flying machine. For example, one trinket, the snow engine, gives you an extra speed boost for every snowflake you run into, while another, the coin furnace, gives you an afterburner boost for collecting coins. There are 15 different trinkets, each with different abilities, and each one can be upgraded three times.
Each trinket will change the visual appearance of your machine, and you can attach up to three after unlocking additional trinket slots.
While you get plenty of coins from racing, if you want an immediate boost, you can buy coins and spare parts from the in-app store for $0.99 to $14.99.
As I mentioned above, your racing bracket is determined by achievements. During each race, you will have a set of achievements to complete, such as reaching a certain landing accuracy, or finishing a race in a set amount of time. Achievements will often require you to upgrade your machine, so you’re always properly equipped for the racing bracket that you are assigned to.
In the future, I’d like to be able to race against my Game Center friends, which doesn’t seem to be possible at the moment, but other than that, I had no complaints about Sky Gnomes. I will caution that gameplay is simplistic, so some serious gamers might find it too easy.
Honestly, I love this game. It’s by far the best racing title that I’ve played, and with its daily tournaments and dynamic gameplay, there’s so much content for so little price. I highly recommend snapping this one up, because it’s a ton of fun.