Simian Mobile Deathmatch – Gun Monkeys
There’s a global energy crisis and no one knows what to do about it. If a solution isn’t found shortly our milk will go sour, our televisions will stop working, and most crucially, we won’t be able to play the vidya! Step forward Bafta-winning game developer Dan Marshall. He reckons that our salvation lies in the hands of our simian friends. According to Dan, by sending a bunch of gun-toting monkeys into the future to collect energy cubes, we can once again browse adult websites in public libraries and play video games with the refrigerator ajar. To test his theory out Dan has realised his vision in video game form, he calls it “Gun Monkeys“.
Gun Monkeys, as Dan describes, it is an “experiment into short, sharp jabs of intense multiplayer combat.” This game is nothing, if not intense. We are talking pure, 1-vs-1 monkey deathmatch action. Both players spawn at a random location on a procedurally generated level. Scattered across each level are power cubes, hazards such as chainsaws, and even gun upgrades. The goal is to collect as many energy cubes, meanwhile, brutally gunning down or blowing-up your opponent. Death is penalised by draining the amount of power you have, reach zero power points and it is game over. So simple, even a monkey could understand it
Getting to know the layout of the map is crucial; it could mean the difference between a glorious victory, and a crushing defeat. Platforms and ladders are sprinkled liberally across the arena, knowing where to jump to elevate yourself away from danger is the key to surviving. Simultaneously trying to collect more power cubes, out-maneuver, and kill your opponent is tricky business. Not only will you have to dodge the various traps scattered around the level, you will also need to avoid any nasty surprises the opposing monkey has left for you.
At the end of each round the top monkey’s total energy cubes will be awarded to them as a cash bonus, the loser will have the same amount deducted from their funds.
Money earned from matches is used to buy perks for upgrades, weapons, and powerups. There are a large variety of each to upgrade your monkey and his abilities. Up to four perks can be activated at a time, leaving plenty of room to create a build suited to your play style – there is something here for everyone. Players looking to create a monkey light on his feet should pick up speed and maneuverability boosts. Those looking to withstand (and deal) more damage should choose weapon buffs, and power regeneration perks.
Success in Gun Monkeys relies on equal parts skill and luck. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time can spell disaster for a player whom has been leading the entire way through a duel. If this game teaches you one thing, it is to expect the unexpected. At any moment your opponent could pick up a boost that will freeze you in place. They could drop a bomb that wipes both of you out in a cloud of banana-scented goodness. You could trip a mine and blow your chances of victory. Despite its quick, twitch-based gameplay, you will need to keep your eyes peeled and play clever- especially when playing against the more craft Capuchins.
Already, just hours after launch there are a few people asking “Is that it?”. Admittedly, I did the same for my first hour of gameplay. I didn’t quite understand what all the fuss was about. Gun Monkeys seemed like a very barebones competitive shooter. Once you begin to scratch beneath the surface, pick up a few perks and win a few matches, it all clicks into place. Patience and perseverance reveal a game of deep, tactical play. An infinite number of possible level layouts will keep you on your toes, causing you to scrutinize and perfect your build.
Admittedly a few more modes would have been a welcome addition – team deathmatch and free-for-all, anyone? Perhaps they will come later, as DLC (If so, please be free). Dan claims this is a “Gamma” release and that things are still being changed around, even after release. Who knows what will be added?
This silly simian shootout isn’t all fun and games, sadly. As of the time of publication the game still has a few annoying bugs. Server disconnects are fairly frequent, and it can be hard to actually find anyone to play with when you do manage to connect to a lobby. Sometimes the game hangs after matches and while joining servers, forcing a restart. Lag was also an issue in a number of matches we played.
The aforementioned issues are staples of a lot of newly-released games, however, and they shouldn’t put you off too much. If you want to solve the global energy crisis, have good reaction times, and don’t mind getting your baboon butt kicked more than a few times, Gun Monkeys might just be what you are looking for. Go on, pick it up. You’d be bananas not to.