So I stumbled across Gunslugs the other day and thought ‘hey, this looks interesting, let’s try it’. Little did I know that this newly released Nintendo 3DS by OrangePixel isn’t the first game in the series … even though it is. Allow me to explain.
Gunslugs 2 released last year on 3DS to plenty of positive feedback, having already garnered plenty of attention on Steam, iOS and Android. Having already released a handful of titles across multiple platforms, one man developer OrangePixel aka. Pascal Bestebroer returned to one of his earlier original IP’s to build on its success. The feedback was so positive, in fact, that Bestebroer was convinced to port the original Gunslugs to the 3DS as well, and here we are more than three years after its original launch with an updated edition.
So what is Gunslugs? Imagine arcade favourite Metal Slug crossed with indie hit Rogue Legacy, procedurally generated levels filled with explosions, gun fights and permadeath-ish progression. You’ll start with two different heroes and shoot your way through side-scrolling maps where the aim is to destroy everything you see, lasting long enough to find capture soldiers to unlock further levels. That’s the general gist, but there’s obviously more to it.
For starters, whichever hero you start with determines which level you begin at, whether it’s a plane yard, a jungle, the arctic or the gates of hell itself. The ultimate goal is to last as long as possible, targeting a high score and blasting your way through hell. Beaten enemies will drop health and ammo, along with random weapon drops such a dual pistols, grenade launchers and arguably the best gun in the game, the chicken egg shooter. Yes, chicken eggs really are that dangerous.
In-between all that you’ll find a few temples and buildings that hide other fallen heroes, gold and other collectable items, along with a few extra levels based on the classic 8-bit era that you can unlock and play by spending your collected loot. So all the things that you would expect from a side-scrolling action shooter, but the twist isn’t in its combat.
By using the now common method of randomisation, each time you jump into a new game or progress to the next level you’ll be thrown for a loop. No one play-through will be the same as the last, something I’m quickly becoming a fan of. It’s one thing knowing exactly what each level will be, but there’s plenty of enjoyment to be had it having not the slightest clue what’s going to happen next.
There are a few things I picked up on during the action that irked me but … well considering the sequel has been out for a while now it seems a little pointless to bring any of them up. None of them deter the enjoyment of Gunslugs and by the looks of it, the sequel has improved upon many of the originals faults. If Bestebroer does decide to go around for a third time however, the inclusion of shooting up or on angles instead of straight ahead and the ability to switch between more than one weapon at a time would be fantastic inclusions. It did get a little annoying when I’d find a more powerful weapon, only to lose it almost instantly when another weapon drop appeared almost instantly right next to it.
For those curious, yes it does support the 3D slider function of Nintendo’s handheld. To be honest, the game looks sharper with it on than off, something I don’t say often when it comes to games on the 3DS. Graphically it’s rather simple but effective, though some of the colours do seem a little murky. Again, that’s something that was rectified in Gunslugs 2, so I’m not going to be critical of it here.
For a one man team, Gunslugs fights well above its weight. The action is fast and authentic to a true arcade experience, there’s a healthy challenge, randomisation adds longevity and more importantly, it cost me less than $3. If you’ve already played the sequel but not this original, it’s a no brainer of a purchase. If you haven’t played either, it’s well worth the price of admission and the sequel isn’t much more in price either. Of course, if you don’t have a 3DS available, you can also purchase it via Steam, but I’d suggest going portable if you can. There’s something satisfying about lying back in bed or on the couch with a good game.
Mark Isaacson is a freelance journalist and Editor of PN2. Go say hi @Mark_D_Isaacson