What do you get when you combine mobsters, zombies and a truckload of firepower? Crazy Monkey Studios have provided an answer to that question with their 2D side-scrolling splatterfest, Guns, Gore and Cannoli. Inspired by the classic arcade shoot-em-up Metal Slug, this inspiration shows through every facet of this game, from the guns to the gameplay (as well as a few cheeky Easter Eggs). Here are a few ways that GGC recaptures and builds upon that Metal Slug magic.
#5 - Gameplay
Metal Slug was born as an arcade quarter-cruncher, often pitting players against ridiculous odds to get them to keep slotting in more lives. As GGC was developed for PC and consoles, the gameplay is a little less frantic, but by no means easy. Vinnie the protagonist has a decent health bar, but it's rare to get through a fight without taking at least a little damage, meaning that poor performance earlier on almost guarantees your death later. Dying takes you back to the most recent checkpoint, which isn't always that recent, so health-replenishing cannoli are a godsend when you find them.
You won't take more than a few steps without having to kill something, and with most enemies needing multiple hits to take down, your aim had better be true. Fortunately, headshots will kill most enemies in a few hits, but it's hard to be that precise when there are five zombies all running at you at once. As if such moments weren't tense enough, you also need to worry about reloading, but this is so well incorporated into other animations that you can even kick enemies during a reload without interrupting it. You can't shoot upward, but there's really little need to, except for taking out the odd zombie leprechaun tied to a balloon. All up, the gameplay is robust and a roaring good time, if requiring a little more strategy than Metal Slug.
#4 - Enemies
GGC understands that if you're going to spend the majority of your time shooting at things, they should be different kinds of things. Enemies come in many different varieties, with different strategies required to kill them. Some have shields, which means you have to get close and kick them off-balance to get a shot in. Others have helmets, forcing you to unlearn the headshot-focused strategy you've used up until that point. Some look almost exactly the same but function differently, so you can't be quite sure what you're up against until they make a move.
While Metal Slug had a huge variety of enemies as well, these were mostly themed to individual levels. What makes GGC unique in this respect is that you fight the different enemy types all at the same time. Even better, different types of enemies will fight one another as they attack you. This comes in handy when you come up against soldiers or mobsters in a fortified position; sometimes there will be a barricade behind them you can destroy to let a swarm of zombies in to do your dirty work for you. Of course, then you've got to take care of the zombies...
#3 - Weapons
A healthy arsenal of weapons can be the magic ingredient to take a shooter from fun to maniacal-laughter-fun. Guns, Gore and Cannoli features nine weapons for you to play with, all of which you can carry at once. The flipside to this is that some are suited to only certain situations, so you need to balance your use of them to make sure none come up empty right when you need to blast some undead. Your basic pistol has unlimited ammo but not much else to recommend it. The two shotguns deal huge damage at close range, but with the limited ammo capacity you won't always want to get that near to your targets. The tommy gun and machine gun are great for holding charging enemies at bay, but fire too low to get many headshots.
The magnum pierces through multiple enemies at headshot height, making it excellent for thinning out enemy ranks at long range, but not so great up close. The flamethrower and tesla coil are perfect for taking on many enemies at once, the latter arcing from one to the next while stunning them in place. And of course, sometimes you just need an RPG to blow a whole in whatever's in your path. You can also carry grenades and molotov cocktails, but beware that all explosives will hurt you if you stand too close. Certainly, there's enough variety of weapons for everybody to pick a favourite.
#2 - Visuals
While GGC can't quite match Metal Slug's soundtrack (some songs can get repetitive), its hand-drawn graphics are a feast for the eyes. The city of Thugtown has been lovingly crafted from the docks to the sewers, the streets to the skyline. The colour palette combines the gritty greys and blacks of the setting with the vibrant colour explosions of the art style, reminding you that this isn't just another mobster or zombie game. Many stores bear names that harken back to famous mobsters of the era such as Meyer Lansky and Lucky Luciano, a nice touch for players who know their mafia history.
The #1 Guns, Gore & Cannoli Feature - Bosses
A spiritual successor to Metal Slug just wouldn't be complete without a slew of monstrously difficult bosses keeping you from finishing an area. While GGC doesn't have a lot of bosses, the ones it does have will seriously test your abilities. The first one you fight is a mob boss with much the same weapons and abilities as you, which makes for a chaotic nail biter of a fight as you both leap about trying to get the drop on one another. The second boss--a giant zombie rat--is a bit more formulaic, so if you learn his patterns you can stay one step ahead of his acidic bile. The final boss is an excellent culmination of the story, and requires both you and the boss to split your attention between fighting each other and endless hordes of zombies. I won't say any more for fear of spoilers, but Metal Slug fans will definitely have some big-boss-deja-vu when taking this one down.