When playing a game for the first time at a gaming expo, often with fellow gamers looking over your shoulder, you want it to have that essential pick up and play feel where you can settle into that groove of having a great time and looking like a badass all at once. Gunnihilation is that game.
Playable on PC at Play Blackpool, but using an Xbox One controller, this twin-stick shooter has classic retro visuals paired with vitally responsive controls as you combine shooting with platforming to enormously satisfying effect. It’s also playable in co-op, which is even better.
When aiming with the right stick, there’s a coloured aiming line (each player has their own colour), which makes life easier when the screen starts to swarm with enemies and their slow-moving weapon fire. This isn’t a one hit kill game though and you can take a decent amount of damage before snuffing it and respawning.
Over the course of multiple levels, I cut down waves and waves of soldiers and giant robot walkers. The shattered remains of any defeated enemies fall to the bottom of the stage, piling up over the course of the battle. Hell, you can even run through and scatter them like you did with piles of leaves in the park when you were a kid.
You begin with a machine gun, spraying the battlefield with rapid-fire bullets. Before long I picked up a shotgun with a gloriously wide spread of fire which made taking on groups of tightly packed enemies much easier. The last weapon I tried was a rocket launcher where you fire a few rockets off and then remotely detonate them at the ideal opportunity for maximum carnage. You don’t have to settle on one weapon either. Once you pick them up you can swap between them on the fly making sure you have a choice for the right weapon for the job at hand. Failing that, you can always unleash the Frenzy mode once it’s charged for lasery death or grenade spamming. There’s a reload button, but you’ll automatically reload whenever you take your finger off the trigger for a second or two, freeing up your hands to concentrate on the jumping.
And boy is the jumping side of the game sweet. While there is a jump button, pressing up on the analogue stick to jump (and double jump) or press down to hop down a platform layer are perfectly tuned to the controller. Combined with the platform drop, the double jump gives the impression of flying between swarms of enemy fire to provide one of the smoothest platformer/shooter hybrids I’ve ever played.
You’re perfectly equipped to float between the pulsing hails of enemy fire. Using the right stick to aim 360 degrees around you while moving feels like the perfect harmony of motion and shooting. You’ll never be able to go back to Metal Slug again -a notion tested when I played it on one of the old arcade machine at the Play Blackpool expo later that day.
You can play an old prototype flash version of Gunnihilation through this link. The controls are set to a keyboard/mouse combo, but it’s still a lot of fun. Fingers crossed they add in the new version with controller support soon. But I would say that, as I’m a console gamer. A console gamer that desperately wants this to make its way to PS4 and Xbox One as soon as possible.
Developers: Robo Pixel Games.