One of my favourite guilty pleasures in the world of indie games is Guns, Gore, and Cannoli. The 2D arcade shooter from Crazy Monkey Studios had a great visual style, some fun weapons, and a lot of humour. I have completed multiple playthroughs and enjoyed each one. When I got offered the chance to review the game’s sequel (imaginatively titled Guns, Gore, and Cannoli 2), I jumped at the chance. So, how does Crazy Monkey Studios’ follow-up match up to the original?
Once again, you play as Vinnie Cannoli as he battles his way through swathes of gangsters and zombies. The action is set 15 years after the first game but is still tied to those events. You will once again visit Thugtown before checking out the European battlefields of World War 2. You’ll face off against enemies old and new as you work your way up to discover who the Dark Don is. You’ll meet returning characters, learn more about Vinnie, be double-crossed, and (of course) kill a lot of enemies. Obviously, this isn’t Hamlet or The Count of Monte Cristo, but the story had enough zip and interest to keep me entertained for the few hours that the game runs for.
Visually, Guns, Gore, and Cannoli 2 is another treat for the eyes. The Claeys brothers have once again hand-drawn everything on screen, and yet again it looks a treat. There seems to be a lot more on screen, but I think that might be because the action is zoomed out a little. There’s also more parallax scrolling helping to add depth and movement to the locations. The new areas are well implemented including a great section on the beaches of Normandy. The new Nazi enemies are easily distinguishable from one another while still fitting perfectly into the game world. The new bosses in the game also fit really well into the style of the other enemies, something that wasn’t always the case in the first game.
Gameplay is very similar to the first game. Once again, you are running around shooting enemies and navigating various platforms. However, Vinnie is now more mobile and deadlier than ever thanks to some new additions. First of all, he can now shoot in any direction. The right thumbstick controls where your bullets go. This full 360° shooting arc makes it easier to kill any enemies anywhere on the screen. It’s a very welcome addition, though it does have a slight downside. To enable you to aim while jumping around, you now pull the left trigger to jump. This took me some time to get used to and doesn’t feel natural. Speaking of jumping, you can now double jump. You can also roll/somersault. All of this additional movement is implemented in such a way that it feels like a refinement to the first game’s traversal rather than a complete rehash.
Another new addition to the game is online multiplayer. You can team up with three other players to complete any of the levels in the game. Unfortunately, I was unable to test this out as I was unable to find anyone to play with (this is before the game has released). If it’s anything like the local multiplayer, though, it will be a lot of fun as well as a lot of carnage. Things can get a little chaotic when you and three friends are jumping around, shooting anything that moves (and some things that don’t – or is that just my friends) but it is a real hoot.
As a fan of the first game, I was pretty confident going into Guns, Gore, and Cannoli 2 and I wasn’t let down. It may be pretty much just more of the same, but the control refinements and new enemies do elevate it above its predecessor. Once you get used to using the left trigger for jumping, you’ll really appreciate the 360° shooting arc. The story is just as crazy (in a good way) as the first game while expanding the scope of the action and leaving itself open to a third outing for Vinnie. It may still be a fairly short experience, but it gave me a massive grin on my face for all of its running time.