Any fans out there of over the top and carnage filled 80’s and 90’s action flicks? How about classic 2D side-scrolling shooters like Metal Slug? Developed by Dutch indie developer Orangepixel comes the chaotic, fast-paced 2D shooter Gunslugs 2. If mowing down armies of wacky enemies in a mindless pixilated frenzy sounds like your sort of scene then this may just be for you, at least for a short time anyway.
The story (what little there is of it) sees the main antagonists of the first game, The Black Ducks, return once again for a second bout. This time though they’ve set their goal a bit bigger and now have their eye on taking the galaxy. So it’s up to the trigger happy organisation known as the Gunslugs to mow down wave after wave of enemies, rescue their captured comrades and rid the world of the Black Duck menace. That’s really all there is to it. It’s feels like a very cheesy, over the top 80’s action film, and it’s even filled with references and humourous quips to said films. When you first enter the Jungle environment for example your character mentions how the area reminds them of Predator and quotes one of the films best lines “If it bleeds we can kill it.” If that’s not enough just look at the cast of characters who all resemble stars of 80’s and 90’s action stars. The game isn’t particularly long but it’s great in short bursts of around 15 minutes, although initially you’re given little to no direction as to what you do instead leaving it to you to figure out. Once you work out pattern it really doesn’t deviate from it for the rest of the game.
Available are 25 levels spread out over 7 different environments from Wastelands, the Himalayas and even other planets. While new stuff is added over time to build up the difficulty you’ll never come across one that’s too taxing. The goal of each level is to destroy a number of control towers dotted across the landscape before being urged to “get to the chopper” (there’s good old Arnie again). The main bulk of the levels ask you to scroll from left to right in an endless gun blazing rampage while the vertically planned towers require a bit more planning as they add in some nifty new traps like mini rocket turrets, mines and bone-crushing boulders. It’s the tower sequences that also provide you with some much needed aid as you can rescue a fellow Gunslug which switches you to them and completely restores your health. This can be crucial as you constantly seem to take hits and average health packs never quite have enough kick. Each level is procedurally generated which helps to hold players interest while keeping things nice and fresh, however it can occasionally land you in a heap of problems. Enemy spawns for example can become cruelly too cluttered together making it hard to survive unscathed.
Run, jump and shoot are really all there is to it. The controls are very slick and very simple to pick up; B to jump and A to shoot. Going out all guns blazing is really the main draw of the game but doing it too much can put you in a spot of bother. Ammunition is limited so you’ll need to constantly stock up on the fresh supplies that litter each level, otherwise you’ll have to fall back on your trusty knife which is amusing to mess around with but not a viable tactic in the long-run. Each character has their own personal preference when it comes to fire power for example the Mr. T wannabe utilises a flamethrower and the Stallone lookalike packs a mean rocket launcher. In terms of progression they don’t really add a whole lot to the gameplay but the variation helps to switch things up a bit. As do the perks you can pick up or buy in shops to double up firepower, fire in multiple directions or boost your defences.
To help add to Gunslugs 2’s short length are an additional two modes arcade and daily. Arcade tasks you with the practically impossible task of completing all 25 scenarios with just a single life. Daily is exactly what it sounds like, challenges quests that are added on a daily basis. While the idea of these modes is nice you’re likely to only find yourself delving in to once to try them out before forgetting all about them. The story mode, depending on your skill can be very short but it is the more entertaining mode. There’s no online or offline leader-boards or really any other incentive at all for completing these extra modes so they’re just left alone.
Originating from the android Gunslugs 2 has a very low-key artstyle, it’s a very stylised with its bright colours and a very retro pixel vibe. Characters are essentially simple boxmen, most enemies match up with them but there’s some nice detail and variety to them as you reduce them all into scrap metal and odd gooey blobs. The style is very simplistic but it’s appropriate for the violent action packed shooter. One major issue is the amount of lag you get after destroying a communication tower or mowing down a large number enemies, it can be rather irritating. Another issue with it, least on a couple of my playthroughs, is that it can cause some game breaking bugs as you’re sent rocketing into the sky and forcibly sent back to the 3DS home menu. The audio is also worth mentioning. While not particularly memorable it does help fuel your pixilated rampage.
Gunslugs 2 is what it is, a mindless 2D side-scrolling shooter accompanied by an over the top 80’s plot and filled with classic quips. The random level generation plus just the chaotic nature of the gameplay can pit you in cruel, difficult situations and the extra modes don’t really warrant a second visit. That said the simplified gameplay means you don’t have to think too hard about it which makes it ideal for killing short periods of time.
This review is based off a review code of Gunslugs 2 provided by Orangepixel.
This review was originally published on the site GamersFTW which unfortunately has now been taken down. It’s been published on my personal blog, DanielVaughanReviews, out of respect for the developers/publishers that were kind enough to give me review copy of their game.