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The sequel to the popular run 'n' gun platformer is now out, and as a last minute surprise, the developer OrangePixel also made the first game available for Linux today. We have played the follow-up, and it offers the same enjoyable action frenzy as the original, but in a more accessible package.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=INuE_5VyA6Y

The main story mode is spread across seven worlds, each with two main levels and an end-boss. In each level you have to destroy three beacons located inside buildings that are heavily fortified by enemies. These inside areas are procedurally generated to ensure that no two playthroughs are exactly the same, and the buildings are quite challenging by the time you get past the first few worlds. Luckily there's no permadeath this time around, as I have to admit I never made it past the third world of the first game. Instead this game has endless continues, and if you crave the insane challenge of the original, there's still the arcade mode that unlocks once you've beaten the story mode.

As is typical of 80s movies, from which this game draws its thematic influence, bad guys are up to no good. This time the notorious Black Duck army is trying to take over the entire galaxy, and have employed alien technology in their quest to do so. In the intro cutscene Gunslugs team members Johnny Rumble and B.A. Barracuda run in, guns blazing, to chase off a group of Black Duck army scientist who have set up a strange device to send signals into space. They destroy the device, but the army is as numerous as ever. Your heroes will have to set out on a mission both on Earth and in space to put an end to their evil plans. Your mission is spiced up by exclamations like "UMPF!", "AARGH!" and "Take cover!".

When you start out, you have the choice of controlling either Johnny Rumble or Uma Blood. Johnny has a basic gun that is effective against soldiers, and a decent amount of ammo. Uma has a two-way gun that is great for shooting off enemies on both sides but it will run out of ammo twice as fast. When you shoot from behind cover, she'll point both guns the same way, effectively making her two guns a double barrel gun for increased damage. Along your way, you'll also unlock the full cast of Gunslugs action tropes, including B.A. Barracuda, Willis Kiyay, Sarge, Sly Rocko and Scarlett Sonya. Each has their unique default weapon. These weapons are also strategically placed throughout the levels, and you can pick them up and use them until they run out of ammo. The weapons have different strengths. The rockets have a powerful punch but a less rapid rate of fire, while the flamer, which is great against hordes of enemies and has a curved area of effect, is more limited in range.

Enemies and crates will usually drop either ammo or first aid kits, so you have the means to replenish ammo and health as long as you don't run out of either too fast. In addition, you'll also get coins. These can be used to buy upgrades, like dark shield for additional armor or adrenaline for an extra health bar. Both will run out though, and once they're gone you'll have to save up to be able to buy more. Once you learn the ropes, you won't need these as much, but it's a great way to balance out the difficulty of the game for beginners to the genre, as repeatedly failing levels will net you a hefty amount of coins if you take care to pick them up before they disappear. You can also take out tanks, cannons and manned mecha suits that will shield you from enemy fire while they last. Unless you can find a good cover, it's not always worth the risk though, since their original owners won't give them up without a fight.

According to my slightly messy notes, the full story mode took me about 8 hours to beat. I consider precision platformers to be my forte though, and it's likely that someone more experienced with action platformers will have an easier time of the story mode. The arcade mode with its permadeath should still be a considerable obstacle to any player. The main thing I struggled with was learning to adapt to new enemies. The jungle boss of world three took me tens of tries until I figured out that you have to judge your enemy not by its numbers but by its potential fatality. Sometimes you have to risk a little health to put yourself in an advantageous position and, as I learned in the last couple of worlds, some enemies are better to just avoid outright.

The bosses at the end of each world all add their unique flavor to the game. Like the one where you have to avoid oil barrels from getting blown up until the right moment while dozens of enemies are emptying their magazines at you, and with no cover in sight. And a giant mecha fist that tries to pound you into the ground for massive damage.

Overall I really enjoyed Gunslugs 2, and I feel like it's a game that is well suited both for a full evening of smooth action platforming and as more of an "in-between game" between sessions of games that require more time to engage with.

The game is available both DRM free from Humble Store and on Steam, and if you want to try the game before buying, there's a demo available on IndieDB.



Comments on this article are now closed.
sub commented on 15 January 2015 at 10:11 pm UTC

Music by Gavin Harrison? The Porcupine Tree drummer?
I guess it's just a coincidence... (?)


flesk commented on 16 January 2015 at 7:36 am UTC
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subMusic by Gavin Harrison? The Porcupine Tree drummer?
I guess it's just a coincidence... (?)

Yeah, I couldn't find any mentions of Gunslugs on his website, so probably just a coincidence.


flesk commented on 20 January 2015 at 11:04 am UTC
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Just to note that I just finished my second playthrough of the game, and according to Steam that took me about two hours, so experience definitely matters. Daily procedurally generated challenges has also been added to the game now, which are larger and harder versions of the buildings in the story mode.


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