Cannon Brawl
Gameplay 9
Graphics 9
Sound 9

Cannon Brawl is an extremely addictive title that manages to blend together several genres without making any compromises. The action is fast paced, but strategic thinking is rewarded and the balance is also very good. While the Adventure mode isn’t very long, the AI battles and multiplayer modes will keep you coming back for more. If you are looking for an entertaining title to play against friends, either online or local, Cannon Brawl should be high on your wishlist.

Gameplay: Fast paced, challenging and very addictive.

Graphics: Colorful and polished, but the visuals can be a bit cluttered at times.

Sound: A decent soundtrack and good sound effects

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Cannon Brawl

Developer: Turtle Sandbox | Turtle Sandbox | Release Date: 2014 | Genre: Action / Indie / Strategy | Website: Official Website | Format: Digital Download

What’s a princess to do when her jealous uncle decides he wants to take over her father’s kingdom? Jump in her airship and engage in some warfare of course! Cannon Brawl might be light on story, but it more than makes up for it with some explosive action. With its blend of real time strategy and artillery gameplay Cannon Brawl is a game that doesn’t let up for one second and keeps you on your toes for the duration of each match.

You start out controlling the princess in her airship, but during the course of the campaign levels unlock more captains, each with their own unique airships. They all have their own abilities as well, with some able to heal surrounding buildings or drill underneath enemy structures, while others have rechargeable shields or can shorten the cooldown time of their structures. These abilities take time to charge in order to prevent abuse, but are powerful tools in your arsenal and with proper use can really turn the tide of battles.

Cannon Brawl places you in direct control of a very maneuverable airship with which to zoom around the rather small levels. The visuals are 2-D, so you view everything from a side-on perspective, which can make the game look a bit like Worms or even Angry Birds at first glance. Each match begins with you and your opponent placed on opposite ends of the level, each with a castle to protect. Whoever loses their castle loses the match, so protecting it is your top priority. Apart from a few of the captains, your airship doesn’t have any direct attacks, so you must build structures with which to take the offense. Your airship is also invulnerable, so you don’t have to worry about getting hit by anything. Each map has limited resource points where you can build a mine to generate cash. If the mine is blown up you lose the ability to gather the resource until it is rebuilt, but because the terrain is destructible, it is also possible to blow up the resource point. If this happens, no mining can be done there, but you do unlock new ways to generate income later in the game.

Before you can build anything you need to expand your territory, which is done through balloons. Matches are usually a scramble to expand territory, build on resource gathering points and then go on the offensive. You can only bring five structures with you into battle and there are no shortage of them to pick from which can make it hard to decide. The game balanced is quite good, so there are no buildings that feel over or under powered and you can usually formulate some good strategies no matter what you take with you. New buildings are unlocked as you make your way through the twenty level campaign mode, which almost makes it feel like an extended tutorial for the real meat of the game, the multiplayer. There are a few boss battles which offers some variety as you have to adjust your tactics for a moving target, but overall the campaign mode will be over before you know it.

Cannon Brawl offers 1V1 online multiplayer with ranked matching, private battles and even single screen battles where you can take on a local friend. There are seven multiplayer maps, with more hopefully coming in the future. If you are not a fan of multiplayer gaming you can still have some fun after finishing the campaign mode by taking on AI battles against bots with the skill level of your choosing. Further longevity is provided by the ultra hard “Nightmare” mode which is unlocked after completing the campaign and the ten puzzle levels you can play during the campaign. The puzzle levels in particular are interesting as they shake up the formula with new requirements, such as destroying a castle with tricky placement in only one or two shots or surviving an onslaught for a certain period of time. As you play the multiplayer or Nightmare mode, you also earn experience points which can be spent in the armory to unlock more buildings and pilots. So, while it would be easy to fault the campaign mode for being too short, there is plenty more to do in the game afterwards.

When it comes to the actual gameplay Cannon Brawl is an absolute joy to play. Anyone who sees the game for the first time might think it is pure chaos, but while you are in the thick of it everything makes perfect sense. It might look like Cannon Brawl is a tower defense title, but very few of your structures really do anything without your direct intervention. This means that simply placing a cannon tower is not enough, you also have to dock your airship with the tower, take aim and fire at your opponent as well. Of course, while you are doing so they might be sending a volley of missiles in your direction after freezing your shields. After use, buildings have a cooldown period, so you are constantly zooming around the map, docking and undocking to take shots or put up shields while occasional heading back to your castle to construct and grab new buildings for deployment.

Matches are usually over very quickly, which is a good thing as it gives you very little time to become bored and forces you to keep on your toes all the time. As the terrain is destructible, you will also quickly run out of places to build, so it is in your best interest to protect what you have and achieve victory as fast as possible. With everything from lasers, missiles, cannons, bombs, shields and banks at your disposal, you are free to formulate your own strategies. You can either focus on fortifying your operations before retaliating, sacrifice defense to go for an all out offense and hope your enemy succumbs before you do, or use sneaky tactics such as destroying resource points and bribing enemy buildings to deflect to your side. Buildings can also be upgraded, so that tiny level one warhead can become a weapon of mass destruction when it reaches level three. The trick is having enough money and keeping buildings from being blown up long enough to do the upgrading though.

Due to the small size of the levels and the amount of all out carnage happening onscreen, it can be tough to distinguish what is happening amidst all the chaos at times. Docking with or upgrading the right buildings in the heat of battle can also be tricky in the heat of battle, but this never prevented me from enjoying the game. There are only five different environments, all of them relatively simple, but once again the focus is on the action and detailed backgrounds would only have added to the chaos.

The game can be played using either a keyboard or controller and it works quite well with the latter. As the game keeps track of your actions per minute I was able to compare how I fared with each control method and the controller worked out better for me by a small margin. The audio is quite good as well with some really nice tunes from Rich Vreeland. The battle music is dynamic which really helps to get the adrenaline flowing as the battles escalate. Overall there is nothing that I can fault about the audio as the sound effects are spot on too. There’s no speech, but since the story is rather unremarkable this is hardly an issue.

Cannon Brawl is definitely a game that hooked me right from the start and continued to grow on me the more I played it. Even after finishing the campaign, I still find myself going back to the AI battles to complete the mini quests that reward you with experience points for actions such as winning three games VS a hard enemy, racking up wins with a specific pilot or dealing a certain amount of damage to enemy buildings. Playing Cannon Brawl brought back fond memories of titles such as Scorched Earth and Worms, but with a real-time twist. Hopefully Turtle Sandbox continues to build upon what they have already achieved here as they have hit upon a very addictive formula.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8
  • Processor: Any processor with 2 Cores
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Graphics: ATI or Nvidia Videocard with at least 256MB, Intel GMA 950 or newer
  • DirectX: Version 9.0c
  • Hard Drive: 1 GB available space
  • OS: Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8
  • Processor: Any processor with 2 Cores
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Graphics: ATI or Nvidia Videocard with at least 512MB
  • DirectX: Version 9.0c
  • Network: Broadband Internet connection
  • Hard Drive: 1 GB available space

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