Mondelez Global LLC, the company responsible for Stride chewing gum, enlisted British developers Johnny Two Shoes to create a very unique type of experience for iOS gamers. Gumulon is a free, physics-based climbing game where your character swings from point to point in order to escape an excavation site after you accidentally woke up a giant monster. The game is proud to announce its distinct gaming experience where players are encouraged to chew gum, and you can time your character's swings from point to point with each mastication of your jaw. Is this game a delicious, chewy experience? Or did it feel as if we were swallowed into a seven year-long digestive process?
While the game does not necessarily contain advertising pop-ups or paid downloadable content in attempts to cover the costs of game development or yield profit, Gumulon's terminology and story does remind us that this game is meant to influence players to buy and chew Stride gum. Luckily, I do not see much of this sugary redundancy throughout the actual gameplay but only in the simple backstory described on the Gumulon website.
You play as Ace, a hardcore miner from the planet Gumulon who has excavated to the lowest point ever in Gumulonian history. Working for the Gumulon Mining Company (is the planet named after the company? or vice-versa?), Ace unearths a giant monster (a metaphor for tooth decay?), sleeping in the core of Gumulon and now must hastily escape the mine shaft before the monster sautés him for dinner.
As with all iOS games, gameplay should be the primary reason I should encourage gamers to either play or avoid a title. Fortunately, Gumulon delivers on this front. On the other hand, Gumulon's replayability is almost nonexistent.
Ace will swing from point to point as he tries to climb out of the deepest mine shaft I have ever seen since the first Battletoads title. Ace uses his elasticity to swing in circles around the numerous pegs in the walls of the mine and you must make a single chewing motion (or tap the screen), for him to let go of that peg in order to ascend. You must angle your point of detachment correctly or Ace will be launched towards a wall or to a lower point peg, hindering his escape from the underground Gumulonian monster.
Throughout most experiences using Gumulon's chew-controls, I encountered a split-second lag which would greatly hinder the timing of Ace's swinging process. While the chewing motions were an ingenious mechanic and I was very surprised at how the camera was utilized in such a manner, I ended up sticking with the touch screen controls for most of our escapes from the Gumulon mineshaft.
During Ace's climb, he has the opportunity to collect Guminium crystals and help fellow miners escape in order to rack up more points. There are tracks which will shoot Ace along a predetermined path and rockets that Ace will latch onto in order to progress to a higher level of the cave. All the while, Ace must avoid objects on the cavern walls and various projectiles that are being shot at him in order to keep an optimum rhythm in swinging upwards.
Players are encouraged to scan the codes from the back of specially-labelled packs of Stride gum in order to unlock bonuses for Gumulon. When using the chew controls, the camera will take the player's picture just as Ace is devoured by the monster and the game will automatically crop their face into the monster's mouth. While this isn't anything major, it is nice to see Johnny Two Shoes incorporate a function like this for the players when it obviously was not a requirement of the game's development.
Despite all the recurrences of Gumology scattered throughout the game's trivial story, this is a relatively enjoyable experience, especially for a game that is completely devoid of pop-up advertisements and paid downloadable content. Stride may have tried to incorporate new forms of camera interaction for gamers, but the untimely responses of the chewing process encouraged us to simply try the chew-controls a few times and revert back to the tried-and-true method of using touch screen taps. Unfortunately, there isn't much else to this game besides swinging away from a monster and collecting points. Gumology would have been better received if it had more variety in the gameplay and if the chewing mechanics did not have lag for both the iPad and iPhone versions.
For a person that is a commuter with only one hand free to use their phone, the chewing controls offers a fun gameplay mechanic. But the split second delay in chew-recognition throws off most of the timing of the jumps. Since timing is a pivotal factor in Gumulon's gameplay, I ultimately recommend touch screen controls for those wishing to score high. For those wishing for a quick and easy gaming experience, I recommend Gumulon. But for those yearning for a more in-depth flavor, I suggest you stride somewhere else.