By: Ted Chen
Cannon Brawl is an interesting fusion of a hybrid real-time strategy with elements of trajectory aiming synonymous of the Worms Armageddon series. Having played Worms and old-school Gunbound, I was rather intrigued by the notion of adding an RTS element to what would normally be seen as a tactical turn based game. To my surprise the amalgamation of said elements turned out to really add depth to the gameplay, and it speeds up the overall decision making process that turn-based games tend to disregard.
The controls use the WASD standard on a keyboard or the analog stick if you opt in with a controller. Both options can be key mapped to your personal comfort, but the in-game help text will continue to display the default buttons. The camera view is static to the game map, and there is no option or reason to change the view. Reinforcing the usual, the controls feel natural and provide a fluid experience.
Cannon Brawl is a stylized 2D game that focuses on light-hearted, cartoony sprites as the visual medium. With pleasant backdrops, the game provides a warm aesthetic that complements the overall light-heartedness. The settings option only provides the basic changes you’ve come to expect such as screen resolution and volume sliders for the sound.
The main music is something you would hear in a Smash Bros game and tantalizes you to queue up for a match. The in-game music, however, is a bit more subtle and unobtrusive to the myriad of actions that start to take precedence.
As soon as you enter the main screen, Cannon Brawl presents you with a few options for gameplay. Adventure mode is your basic storyline and tutorial to the game’s mechanics. The mode is worthwhile to complete as you will unlock the basic heroes and units needed for diversifying your future builds. The other modes consist of online multiplayer and battle against the AI. Within online multiplayer you can opt for ranked or unranked games with full leaderboard and level progression support.
Other noticeable features included in Cannon Brawl are public lobbies, chat rooms, a quest feature and an armory to expend your XP. The public and chat rooms are a way to find games or see what people are doing within the game. The quest feature is like many other games with daily quests except you receive new quests as soon as you finish the ones in your queue. Whenever you win games you receive XP that can be spent in the armory for new units and heroes.
Starting a game will bring you to a screen where you select your hero and slots for your building options. The main goal is to destroy the opponent’s castle by constructing buildings such as gold mines to accumulate gold and spend it on cannon towers to deal damage to enemy structures. Cannon Brawl takes place in real time and all decisions need to be made quickly as it can snowball against your favor if you stall for too long. All buildings have cool downs and attacking with them require trajectory aiming. In addition, upgrades can be applied to existing buildings to strengthen their longevity and usefulness on the field.
As far as the mechanics needed to excel in Cannon Brawl, the manual aiming isn’t as complex as it may seem. Unlike games such as Gunbound where there are wind coefficients that need to be factored into your shots, Cannon Brawl is just a matter of angle estimation of your arc radial, and it’s very forgiving to the player. Combine that with various AI difficulties that you can practice with and the mechanics will become second nature as you focus more on the tempo of the game.
Multiplayer is where you will most likely spend your time as there is no other end-game option. Your mileage will vary, but a leaderboard and an ever-changing meta with new units and heroes being added by the developers can potentially help keep the game fresh. A variety of maps are available for all modes initially, but a map editor would surely spice up and randomize the maps to keep them from becoming stale.
Cannon Brawl is a fast paced RTS/side-scroller hybrid that excels at providing a light-hearted experience that prioritizes fun over superfluous complexity. Multiplayer is entertaining enough; however, I don’t see the competitiveness on an e-sports level of following. The game is enjoyable for what it provides, yet, at the same time, you will wish there was more substance to keep you engaged long term.