Developer: Orangepixel
Price: $1.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0.1
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 5, iPad 2

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★½☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

The Contra-style run ’n gun game has been rarely attempted on iOS, and it’s in part because it’s a game that’s hard to play on touchscreens – see Metal Slug, for example. It’s just tricky to pull off. However, Orangepixel’s take on the genre, Gunslugs, is the best example of run ’n gun for touchscreens, thanks to its simplifications.

The goal is simple: shoot everything that moves. The game has a lot in common with Metal Slug in that special weapons with limited ammo can be collected, and there’s also a tank that can be driven periodically. However, the game simplifies the action by only letting players move horizontally, with the ability to jump, which also serves as the way to enter doors. Doors lead to the towers with beacons to destroy, along with rooms that contain items, that can be bought with coins picked up throughout.

By keeping the action largely on one plane, with a health bar to make up for some mistakes, makes this game work. It’s still intense and challenging, but it feels like it fits on a mobile platform. There’s even a quirky sense of humor to the game too, with pop culture references (including levels inspired by retro gaming) sprinkled throughout. This is just good old-fashioned run ’n gun gameplay. Oh, and what is a run ’n gun game without co-op gameplay? Well, Gunslugs features 2 player co-op on the iPad by using a pair of iOS devices running Joypad or the GameDock. Wi-Fi or Bluetooth support would be welcome, but having it on one iPad works perfectly fine.

Gunslugs can be a bit too chaotic: it can be hard to tell when and where enemy attacks are coming from, and health can just be whittled down. As well, land mines and explosive barrels do so much damage that a life can come to an end just when an unseen explosion happens. And considering that the game basically starts over when dying after only one life to start off with (continues can be occasionally bought with 100 coins), it means one random event can cause the game to end.

Still, it just means that much like the games of old that inspired it, Gunslugs can be unforgiving yet so satisfied when it’s conquered – and the procedurally-generated levels means that players don’t always know what to expect. Fans of the run ’n gun genre need to check this out.

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