Gunslugs 2 on PC
In the 21st century with the advancement of technology, we as a species have come to expect instant gratification. We are able to communicate across the globe in an instant, only to expect the same back. We’re used to product orders taking hours rather than days. We expect to pay for games that instantly give us a smile without being bogged down by the arduous task of waiting more than two breaths. Gunslugs 2 satisfies this now almost genetic desire for an instant burst of joy, getting you into the fun mere seconds after even buying the game.
Gunslugs 2 is a love letter to the side scrolling shoot em ups of years gone by like Metal Slug and Contra with a decidedly modern feel. You take command of a selection of stereotypical heroes plucked from 80s action movies, filling hundreds of enemies with thousands of bullets throughout your time with it. That’s it. Happily enough, this is all Gunslugs 2 needs to create an experience that fills the heart with happiness.
The whole game is typified by the characters presented to you therein. There’s a classic blond dude on shades, a twin pistol brandishing heroine, even a Mr. T style character with a flamethrower, all the way up to a machine gun toting sarge. Gunslugs 2 isn’t a satirical send-up of this whole 80s action flick idea though. Like similar titles such as Broforce or even Tango Fiesta, it revels in the ridiculousness of this whole idea. Tropes are thrown around the screen in ways only the action movie genre could love. One person against an endless stream of faceless goons.
As much as it sounds like one, Gunslugs 2 isn’t just an action shooting maelstrom. Outside of boss areas, every level plays out in exactly the same way. You make your way through each level in a decidedly eastern direction, running into beacon towers to blow them up. Blow them all up and there’ll be a chopper waiting at the level’s end, fueled up and ready to whisk you off to the next bullet-fest.
These beacons are often the most challenging portions of Gunslugs 2. Nestled within are a handful of enemies and often dangerous elements (such as acid, floor spikes, and laser-spewing cannons) intent on hampering your journey to the end-point. Upon reaching this, you bounce on a plunger to blow up the tower and proceed to the next.
It’s inside these towers that you’ll find people caged. These people each represent the different characters. Freeing one will grant a full health bar and access to whatever weapon they classically use. In some cases this is a pair of pistols that fires in both directions. In others, you’ll free Sarge with his massive Aliens inspired machine gun or a Bruce Willis looking chap who throws what looks like throwing stars or grenades. They add an element of variety to Gunslugs 2, but they’re not game changers.
The weapons, however, are.
Their flavors are like those of a well-stocked candy store. From simple double pistols to an incredibly powerful flame thrower, they make Gunslugs 2 a joyful experience when it comes to shooting stuff in the face until it’s dead. When you’re spending hours launching volley after volley of rounds into enemies, the variety on offer in Gunslugs 2 makes it a joy to take whichever weapon you grab into combat against otherwise faceless enemies.
Backing up the armory of pixel-launching weapons are the shops. These are small locations in which one item can be purchased to further augment your abilities. Armor reminiscent of Robocop’s classic helmet or Batman’s cowl can be picked up along with small ammo boosts or even health boosts to make the next tornado of bullets a little easier to endure.
They’re a welcome since Gunslugs 2‘s primary issue is that of difficulty. Now difficulty isn’t something to be marked down for, that’s just a given, but when entering world 7 there’s a significant difficulty spike from two previously unseen elements. Acidic goo and wall-mounted turrets combine to first wear down your health, then pummel you to death with long range explosives. This world isn’t impossibly hard by any stretch of the imagination, but it suddenly becomes rather problematic. This is actually likely to be the reason some don’t get to the end of the game.
Surely it’s easy to avoid these, you’re thinking. Well sadly you’re quite wrong. While Gunslugs 2‘s visual style is joyous to look at (we’re getting to that) it can at times be hard to differentiate between the incoming fire from enemies and what you’re pumping out yourself. Your character also looks almost exactly the same as many of the enemies. Like the sudden spike in difficulty, this can cause some significant problems, especially among those who may have poor sight or colorblindness.
On a happier note of graphical vision however, visually Gunslugs 2′s style is one that pleases the eye. It harks back to the arcade games of yore, prioritizing a colorful presentation over the high res imagery we are so used to seeing in the games of today. This bright, almost brash, color scheme is backed up with an electronic soundtrack bound to get any fan of arcade shooters a little weak in the knees. For a title which costs less than your standard fast food meal Gunslugs 2 provides a sensory ride meatier than any burger you could ever find.
This is mostly thanks to the environments which manage to be eye-pleasing whether the screen is full of enemies or their dropped items. They stand up to close inspection well while not intruding on the frenetic gameplay. There are even special environmental weapons like tanks and armored mech-suits that bring a welcome relief to simply running right across the screen. The controls are the same as moving around normally but the damage they can throw out is devastating to the endless stream of villains presented.
It’s a shame then that the boss fights, often the centerpiece of any game in Gunslugs 2‘s ilk, are a wet mess. Outside of an incredibly interesting battle against a spacecraft, where barrels must be used to deal damage from the ground, they’re all fairly basic and unimaginative. Shoot the boss in its weakpoint for massive damage, then dodge gunfire or shoot aforementioned boss when it comes to the ground level are repeated almost ad nauseum.
A shame as it is that these pivotal battles are nothing more than yawn-worthy, the joy of playing Gunslugs 2 outside of the boss battles is enough to still make it worthwhile. Gunslugs 2 is a joyride through a bygone era that tickles the modern needs of players, without giving up what lies at its core. There are some small problems of course, this can’t be denied. On the whole however, Gunslugs 2 just hits that sweet spot to keep fans of arcade shooters happy for many dark nights to come.
Gunslugs 2 is available on Steam, Android, ChromeOS, Ouya and iOS.