It’s not very often that you come across a game so adequately described by its title, but Guns, Gore & Cannoli does just that. Developed by Crazy Monkey Studios, Guns, Gore, & Cannoli is a solid 2D side scrolling shooter. It’s a genre that has been mostly forgotten since the classic arcade games such as Contra or the Metal Slug series, so this was a nice throwback to those classic games and memories. However, the game has a few key issues that make it fall short of greatness, when compared to the classics that influenced it.
Guns, Gore & Connoli: Xbox One [Reviewed], PC,
Developer: Crazy Monkey Studios
Publisher: Crazy Monkey Studios
Release Date: 25 September 2015
Price: £7.99 [Disclosure: Game copy supplied by Developer/Publisher]
Set in the twenties at the height of Prohibition and organized crime, Guns, Gore, & Cannoli tells the tale of Vinnie Cannoli. Vinnie is your typical hard-boiled gangster hired to retrieve a person of interest in the city of Thugtown (yes, that is the actual name of the town). While the task itself isn’t simple as it is, it’s made much more difficult due to a zombie outbreak that just happens to occur the same night that Vinnie comes to town. In order to accomplish his task then, Vinnie will need to break out his full arsenal of weapons, which include pistols, double barrel shotguns, Tommy guns, grenades, flamethrowers, and even an RPG in order to deal with all of the gangsters, infected humans, infected rats, and the military sent in to contain the outbreak.
Needless to say the plot is quite outrageous. The story, which is told mainly through cutscenes, does just enough to set up the situation and narrative for each level. The voice acting is done well, and the story never takes itself too seriously, making the game more light hearted and fun despite its setting and protagonist. This tone is kept through the 6-8 hour story full of betrayal, cheesy accents, government conspiracies, and pasta eating. Despite a few of the jokes falling flat, the game was mostly entertaining as a parody of that era.
Fans of the old school arcade shooters will feel right at home with the gameplay of Guns, Gore, & Cannoli. You basically move from left to right shooting everything along with the way with a variety of weapons that you unlock as you progress through the campaign. The different types of enemies ensure that you won’t be bored too quickly, as each one acts differently from each other. Zombies are your typical unintelligent creatures that slowly lurk towards you in great numbers. There are a handful of different zombie types as well, including a football player that charges towards you, and a butcher zombie that throws knives at you and explode when they die.
Human enemies on the other hand, are much cleverer. Most of them will try to take cover while taking aim at you, use shields to deflect bullets, and will try to jump out of the way if you throw a grenade at their vicinity. There are times in which the human and non-human enemies will take each other out, which make it convenient at times when you are trying to conserve ammo. The diversity in enemy types are much appreciated, and there is a good balance between the types so that encounters never feel too tedious. Unlike the games that inspired it however, there are very few boss fights in Guns, Gore, & Cannoli which is rather disappointing since the ones that were in the game were easily the best moments.
With all the great weapons to choose from however, it’s a bit disappointing how often I quickly ran out of ammo for most of them. This makes the game much harder than it needs to be, especially on the default difficulty. Fortunately there are a few checkpoints throughout every level, but that doesn’t help much when you’re in a situation where the only gun you have that still has ammo is the default pistol that has infinite ammo, and everything is rushing their way to try and kill you. The game does support co-op, though it’s local co-op only. So anyone who wants a partner in crime to trek through Thugtown will have to find a local buddy in order to do so.
Overall, Guns, Gore, & Cannoli is a great homage to the classic arcade shooters. The hand drawn graphics are fantastic, and the story and humor was entertaining for the most part. The gameplay can be rather difficult and a bit frustrating at times due to the sparsity of ammo at certain points, and the lack of online support means that anyone without a local partner to play through it will be missing out on a key aspect of the game. At $9.99, it’s hard to fault the game much for its relatively short content and lack of boss fights, especially when the majority of my experience was quite enjoyable. I would love to see a more fleshed out sequel with online co-op support, more boss fights, and more gangster clichés. If you want to see what a solid modern side scrolling shooter looks like, you should definitely check out Guns, Gore, & Cannoli.