It’s no secret that we here at The App Shack love our retro games, and that OrangePixel is one of our favorite ‘old-school’ developers on the AppStore. Since the middle of last year, we’ve been anticipating their newest release, Gunslugs, sharing videos and info whenever they became available. Well, now all that waiting is over, as Gunslugs was released this Wednesday, and we’ve already put quite a bit of time into it. We should also mention, beforehand, that we are bias. OrangePixel has impressed and surprised us numerous times in the past with their previous releases, Meganoid, Stardash, INC and others and already, Gunslugs has done the same.
As we mentioned in our release posting for the game, Gunslugs started off as a prequel to INC, which is probably why it looks pretty similar. However, it doesn’t exactly play the same. At the beginning of Gunslugs you’re able to choose from 2 different characters. As you progress throughout the game, you’ll be able to save 5 other characters which you’ll then be able to choose from as well, each starting off in the environment that you saved them in.
We haven’t reached the end of the game yet (and, as Pascal, the developer behind Gunslugs has stated, there is no official ending to the game because ATM, it’s quite the ‘impossible’ task), but as you start, you’re given 3 ‘missions’, or stages, that make up each environment, to make your way through. The first two require you to take out buildings with beacons on top of them while the third is a boss battle.
Making your way through the stage, you’ll come across a whole slew of enemies from the Black Duck Army, helicopters that drop off more enemies, and can also be taken out with mines and explosive barrels that litter the stages, ammo, gun and health will be dropped by enemies and can also be found in crates, tanks can be acquired and used for short periods of time - now, I say short because it depends on when you acquire the tanks; they can not climb up any inclines in the ground, so you will not be able to take advantage of them for too long - and better yet, coins that add to your score and that you can collect and use when entering various buildings that can contain either a mini-game, armor, an extra life or power drinks. The buildings can also house extra ammo crates, characters that will refill your health and princesses hiding from the evil army but willing to bribe you so you keep quiet. These buildings are also where you’ll be able to find the trapped characters that you’ll need to save in order to choose them as a playable character.
The very mention of mini-games might turn some of you off, but if you’re familiar with OrangePixel’s past work, it shouldn’t worry you too much. The mini-games fit in with the gameplay of Gunslugs quite well, with one game throwing you onto the top of a moving train while you blast enemies away and jump from cart to cart while trying to make it to the front of the train. Another mini-game puts you in a Stardash (or Super Mario Land - GameBoy style) level, where you’ll need to jump on enemies heads in order to dispatch them, and make it to the end, while another is built looking kind of like Donkey Kong and has you jumping from platform to platform, taking out enemies and again, trying to make it to the finish line.
Each of these mini-games has no real effect on your main game health or ammo, so dying just sends you back to the building that you found the mini-game in, but if you can manage to complete the games, they will help you rack up a huge score, and work your way up the leader boards.
At first, the game does start off a little mindless. Throughout the first world, you’re pretty much able to run around holding down the fire button, blasting everything in sight, and wasting ammo as you go along. But in the second world, thing start to become a little more strategic, as running out of ammo is a real option, leaving you to fend for yourself with no gun, being chased by enemies until you can run over a mine, and blow them up, hopefully grabbing some ammo refills after the process, but obviously leaving you battered and broken after being shot at while running around trying to find a mine. Picking up a new gun, like a flame-thrower, grenade launcher, electro gun, two way gun, ect… and depleting its ammo will refill your main gun’s ammo though, and, as stated, ammo drops are all over the place so long as you don’t just run around with your finger on the trigger constantly, you should be fine. Even during boss battles, bosses send out waves of army troops so that you can recoup some of your ammo and health.
Also, entering a building that does not have a beacon on top of it can only be done once, meaning that if you do not have enough coins to play the housed mini-game or purchase the extra life or armor, you will not be able to enter the building again. This does give a sort of risk/reward feature, as quite a few of the buildings have characters that give you coins or refill health, but you can also play through the stage, destroying everything and gathering coins, and then go back and enter the buildings in order to take advantage of their treasures.
The controls, as you might imagine, are flawless. This is made even more apparent by the fact that Ravenous (yes that Ravenous, the ones who created League of Evil, the game that was so highly praised for it’s controls) has been saying for months that they are going to look into making their controls more comfortable for iPad play, but have not, and then released their new game, Infestor, on the same day as Gunslugs, only to have a horrid button layout, made even more apparent on the bigger iPad screen, while OrangePixel’s Gunslugs, as with all of their previous games, has fully customizable controls, able to be positioned anywhere on the screen when playing on any iDevice.
Another huge perk is that Gunslugs has co-op play. However, it is set up in a not too familiar way for a lot of people. 3 devices will be necessary, with one acting as the ‘console’ while the other two are used as controllers through the Joypad app, which is also supported by all of OrangePixel’s previous releases. But if you’ve got any friends with an iPad, the Joypad app is free, and only takes a second to download, so you could be playing with friends in no time, so long as they can physically sit next to you.
To top it all off, Gunslugs is priced at $1.99, is Universal, supports iCade and has GameCenter support with a leader board for your highest score and a whopping 60 achievements to try and snag. There are also 3 objectives which you’ll be able to try and complete while running through games, adding even more action and difficulty to the game.
If you’ve been looking for another hardcore run’n’gun title on the iOS, alongside Metal Slug and INC, Gunslugs fits in perfectly. It’s also a great representation of what OrangePixel is all about; retro graphics, perfect controls, great physics, hardcore gameplay and loads of fun and entertainment. While it might not appeal to the more hardcore platforming fan base, it is great to see OrangePixel deviate slightly from the typical speedrun platformers they’ve released in the past, and still holds up as one of their best games to date that should definitely be checked out by any and everyone even remotely interested in action packed, score driven gameplay.