Since the untimely demise of Free Radical Design, the world has seen a dearth of gun toting monkeys in video games. Now those fine chaps at Size Five Games have stepped into the breach with Gun Monkeys, a pro-gen-plat-shoot-em-up; or a procedurally-generated, 1-on-1, online platform shooter to you and me.
But is it any good?
Developer: Size Five Games
Release Date: Out Now
Version Tested: PC
Gun Monkeys is set in the post-apocalyptic wastes of the future. It turns out that whilst free unlimited energy is, in fact possible, it does require the annihilation of the people of the future. Eh, it’s too late to be bummed about it now. It has happened, or will happen, I don’t know, I’m a bit confused. Maybe I’ll go for a lie down?
So there’s a ton of free energy kicking around in the future but how do we get it back? There’s only one way I can think of… Monkeys with big ass guns! Naturally!
At its heart, Gun Monkeys is simply two monkey battling it out over some procedurally generated landscapes with big guns in an effort to collect some shiny blue energy cubes. All battles are one v one and there is only one game mode. Some people would see this as a failure in the game but the simplicity is where the fun lies.
Gun Monkeys may not have the variety of modes, weapons or upgrades found in other game but what is there offers a truly different experience.
Battles are surprisingly tactical and the biggest gun will not always guarantee victory. An inexperienced player with a huge gun is no match for a wily veteran with nothing more than the default blaster, some bombs and wits. You gain energy, not by killing your opponent, but by dashing around the screen, grabbing the glowing blue balls of light and getting them back to your portal. Dying will cost you the energy it takes to catapult another hapless simian soldier into the future. If the energy meter drops to zero you lose. Oh, and just to add that extra bit of pressure, as soon as the battle starts, your energy reserves start slowly ticking down so you can’t just hide and take it slow. This adds real tension to games. With the clock ticking down and your opponent sensing blood, you have to dash out from cover to keep your meter topped up.
Winners are rewarded with money to buy upgrades helping them in their next battle, while losers will be stripped of cash (even the game developers don’t want monkeys going into administration…)
With no match-making on the servers, it’s important to check out the current cash and upgrades of your opponents to stop yourself being hopelessly out gunned. This is easier said than done though. Unfortunately, the servers can be pretty quiet making it hard to get a game. There are also a few bugs to be ironed out with the game occasionally crashing or freezing, but I expect Size Five Games will be on top of fixing these.
Variety is added with the addition of water and space levels (you get a jet pack on the space ones… monkeys plus guns plus jet packs?!? Amazing!) There are also random hazards to contend with such as mines and big evil spinning blades ala Super Meat Boy. If you want to win, not only will you have to master these hazards, but also the levels themselves. I lost count of the amount of times I was saved by a perfect jump to a well-placed ladder, and likewise killed then stuck in a hole with a bomb under my nose.
Another thing that will help keep you alive is the frequent Worms style weapon drops. Make a dash for the crate and you might get a laser gun, or maybe something to freeze your enemy. If you’re lucky, you could even crack out a bloody great big nuke!
If you’ve played any other Size Five games you won’t be surprised by the humour, supplied largely by the narration of actor Kevin Eldon (you may remember him from such movies as Hot Fuzz and Four Lions.) There is also the classic quirky art style usual to Size Five’s creations, full of character, colour and when a monkey gets blown to smithereens, blood. You can also customize your little chimp-dude to make him even more menacing (or pink) depending on how you roll.
Niggles aside, Gun Monkeys is a small, but perfectly formed frantic multiplayer blaster thats pretty darn fun. Give it a game or two and you’ll wonder what all the fuss is about, but if you give it a few hours, you’ll find yourself surprisingly hooked.
So, yes. Go buy.
And if you’re still not sure – monkeys with guns; whats not to like?