Willis Kiyay is a registered Trademark of Orange Pixel
One of the most important aspects of handheld gaming is a tight, responsive control scheme. Touchscreen devices like the iPhone and some Android phones are capable gaming machines, but without the tactile feedback physical controls offer, gaming on them can be frustrating. Many companies develop games solely for touchscreen devices, leaving those of us who prefer physical controls unable to play their games. Both Orange Pixel and Abstraction Games are bucking this trend by porting Gunslugs from Android to Playstation Vita.
Gunslugs, for those not in the know, is a run ‘n gun action roguelike game with some lighthearted 80’s influence. Think Metal Slug but instead of Marco, Tarma and Fio, you have Bad Ass Barracude (B.A Baracus), a Sly Stalone dead ringer called Sly Rocko, and a Bruce Willis wannabe called Willis Kiyay.
The premise of the game is straightforward. An evil organisation, known as Black Duck is wreaking havoc worldwide and it is up to you to stop them. In your quest to suppress the evildoers you travel to different locations like Egypt, Siberia, and “The Jungle” – wherever that may be.
The action in Gunslugs (and probably the name too, now that we think of it) is pretty much torn straight from Metal Slug. This is your typical run from the left hand side of the screen to the right, shooting everything that moves kind of game. Occasionally you will have to take down a Black Duck communications tower, resulting in a satisfying slow-mo detonation.
Now and then enemies will drop items like extra health, bullets, or even a gun. Dodging the hail of bullets coming from your enemies and keeping on top of your own bullet count is the key to survival.
As aforementioned, the game features some roguelike elements – although these are very mild. Levels reshuffle themselves each time you restart. Enemy and building locations move around, weapons and other pickups change, and random events will change each time you play. Special mention should also go to the game’s sometimes brutal difficulty.
As you play, you will encounter various buildings that you can enter. The contents change each time you play. Whether you encounter a shopkeeper selling extra lives, a hiding Princess Zelda, or a minigame is all up to chance. Gunslugs features a variety of minigames inspired by classic franchises like Donkey Kong and Super Mario. Successfully completing them gives a coin reward that can be spent on items or other games.
Each part of the game features 3 levels including a boss. If you manage to find the unlockable character hidden in each world, you will then be able to restart the game from that world – provided you play as the unlocked character. There are six unlockable characters in total so there is a fair bit of longevity in Gunslugs.
The soundtrack is your typical high-tempo, chiptune action beat, and the graphics are in an attractive 8-bit style. Nothing special in either department but they are nice to listen to and look at.
For a measly £1.99 ($2.49) you simply cannot do better than Gunslugs on PSN. It offers lots of action and variety that more expensive games can’t come close to. Rumour has it that Abstraction Games will be porting more of Orange Pixel’s Android games to the Playstation Vita. If they are well-priced, and as fun as Gunslugs, then that’s a proposition we can’t say no to.