Gomola Speed is what you would get if you crossed the classic Snake game with Gauntlet. It may sound like an unholy union at first, but it turns out that this UPL-developed
action game is one of the most enjoyable times you can have with the TurboGrafx-16.
Did I say TurboGrafx-16? Well, I meant PC Engine; because Gomola Speed never found its way to the United States and Europe. Looking back at it now, it's hard to believe that
this overhead action game wasn't a bigger deal. The game has universal appeal to a broad audience, apes two classic games and, most importantly, is completely in English. Why
this wasn't a world-wide hit is anybody's guess.
You play through a bunch of increasingly difficult acts that will test your timing and reflexes. The goal is to take your character and merge it with small round bodies that
will attach as tails. The more of these items you pick up, the longer your tail becomes. In that sense it's like the classic Snake game, in which gamers are forced to avoid
enemies as your tail grows over time. Here the player uses its large tail to completely circle an enemy to destroy it, opening an exit to the next stage.
But it's not as easy as it sounds. Gomola Speed has players picking up keys, treasure and special items that will aid you on the adventure. Each level offers its own set of
challenges, which include everything from boss battles to labyrinthine level designs. In that sense it feels (and even kind of looks like) Gauntlet, only without the emphasis
on co-operative play and projectile weapons.
What sets this game apart is how it seems to find a way of adding new ideas in each stage. The core gameplay may remain the same, but some stages will definitely throw you for
a loop. In some stages you'll destroy parts of the floor as you eliminate bad guys. In another stage you'll have to deal with a giant boss with an unknown weakness. You never
quite know what will pop up next in Gomola Speed.
The game is challenging, too. You start the game with three lives and three continues, both of which you'll need in order to get to see the end. Thankfully Gomola Speed has a
password system, making this a much more manageable adventure. There's no story to speak of, just stage after stage of action-packed gameplay.
The graphics aren't bad, but they certainly aren't a showpiece of the TurboGrafx-16's power. The presentation takes a backseat to the gameplay, which is always quick and
responsive. The concept is so simple, yet the obstacles that the developers throw at you are devilishly cruel. It's easy to be so close to that exit, only to have to turn
around and re-collect half of your tail. In Gomola Speed you aren't allowed to leave a single piece behind.
This is the kind of simple design that would be a perfect fit as a downloadable title on an iOS device or handheld gaming platform. It's the kind of thing that is easy to pick
up for only a few minutes before putting down again. Maybe now, 22 years later, it's Gomola Speed's time to hog the spotlight. Even if this never becomes a huge success, it's
time for you to experience Gomola Speed.