Hey, remember that actor/comedian Kevin Eldon? No? Me neither. Well, I assume some of you must know who he his, he’s apparently been around since the 90s and had his own BBC sketch show ‘It’s Kevin’ earlier this year. He’s also, surprisingly enough, the narrator for a little indie game called Gun Monkeys.
Gun Monkeys is a 1v1 deathmatch game where the goal is to reduce your opponents ‘power’ to zero. To do this you must run around the map collecting power cores, return these cores back to your base and you gain power while your opponent loses it. Killing your opponent will similarly result in your gaining and their losing of power.
Initially both players start with the basic ‘gibber’ gun. However throughout the game boxes containing guns or power-ups will drop from the sky. These range from a power-up which causes your opponents arms to disappear, preventing him from shooting his gun, to the ‘Big Nuke’, a devastating weapon which will obliterate any unfortunate chimp in its path in a glorious slow-motion shower of blood and monkey brains.
Bombs are at your disposal too. Handle these with care. On detonation they explode ‘bomberman style’ upwards and in both horizontal directions and a quick death awaits you if you’re caught in the blast of your own bomb, never mind your opponents. There’s not really any animation when you place a bomb and as a result it’s fairly easy to use one without your opponent noticing. If you’re up close and personal with your opponent and they suddenly run away, RUN AWAY TOO. They’ve probably just placed a bomb at your feet. Seeing your rival monkey caught unawares by a well placed bomb is incredibly satisfying and one of my favourite parts of the game.
Dying is bad. It takes about 10 seconds to respawn (although it usually feels like an eternity) and that is often enough time for your opponent to rack up a considerable lead. In fact, I’ve had games which have lasted a matter of seconds after being killed almost straight away and watching helplessly as my opponent wipes out my score immediately. It’s sometimes a cruel life being a gun monkey.
Maps are procedurally generated so you get a lot of variation with those. Some are incredibly small, others quite big. Some are under water and some stages give you jet packs. Yes, that’s right. Monkeys with jet packs.
The previously mentioned Kevin Eldon does a great job. He voices the tutorial and will occasionally pipe up during games when you pick up a particular weapon or spawn in a certain type of map, he adds a really nice bit of humour to the game. Eight hours in however and I’ve noticed a distinct lack of Kevin in my games. I’m not sure whether it’s a bug with my game or after a while he just stops talking. If it’s the latter then I’m a tad disappointed, I think it would be better if he was always said something even if it was the same thing every time. COME BACK KEVIN, I MISS YOU.
There is another little thing which I think could be added. It would be nice to have a chat function to use to talk with the person your playing against. The games are too fast paced to type while your playing but between games when the final score is ticking down (which I think takes a bit too long anyway) it would be nice if you could say something like ‘good game’, ‘well played’ or ask them for a rematch.
Unfortunately, there is one big problem with Gun Monkeys too. Its active community is currently very small, and for a multiplayer only game that’s a serious issue. The game is lobby based and if you try to find someone to play with at non-peak times (say midday during the week) then you will most likely struggle to find anyone else playing at all. I bought the game fairly soon after release and after two hours of ‘playtime’ I’d only played about five games. Considering games often only last a couple of minutes, that’s a lot of time spent waiting in lobbies. I have now developed a burning hatred for the music which plays while your waiting to find a game.
Thankfully the developer, Size Five Games, have taken some action to combat these issues: Gun Monkeys has seen a price drop. It is now just £3.99 for two copies of the game on Steam and everyone who had already bought the game received an extra copy to gift to their friends. I was one of the people in the latter category and have since shared the game with a couple of my friends. This has certainly helped, the servers are busier than before, but hasn’t solved the problem yet.
Gun Monkeys is a game which really fits the ‘Games Which Deserve Love’ category. It really is a fun game, particularly when played with friends. It just needs more people playing it.