Cannon Brawl takes the harvesting mechanic of an RTS game, blends it with tower defense placement and upgrades, and incorporates the 2D wild action of Worms (or Scorched Earth) into a combination that is unique and addicting. The small development team took the best features of these more niche genres and created something special. There are even hints of Advance Wars in here.
In terms of story, basically you have the bad brother trying to do bad things and the good brother trying to stop him. As generic as the plot might be, it provides just enough incentive and humor to keep those short cutscenes from being skippable.
It sounds complicated on paper but all the mechanics are presented in a way that is easy to understand with minimal learning curve. The controllable blimp is essentially the player’s cursor, placing turrets, shields, and other tower defense-like structures throughout the map. Building anything requires money. Money is acquired by placing mining structures throughout the map. Once enough gold has been collected, the player can lay down some gunfire through cannons, lasers, bombs, and missiles. The enemy might be protecting their base with a shield though. In order to cut through the shield, upgrading cannons to shoot further or ricocheting lasers is a must. In order to place more buildings throughout the map, the player needs to set balloons which essentially extends the fog-of-war territory. Again, this sounds complex but it is easy to navigate and everything becomes clear after the first two-minute opening tutorial.
What makes Cannon Brawl so addicting is its pacing and balancing. Completing each stage unlocks a new weapon/feature/character so there is always something new to see, learn, and experiment. Although some stages are harder than others, especially in the second half of the campaign, nothing is drastically cheap or unfair; there are some optional puzzle stages that carry a high challenge. Dedicated players can even replay the campaign with a higher level of challenge after it is initially completed.
The best part of the experience could easily come from the multiplayer mode. Playing with another human instead of the AI can create some heated tug-o-war scenarios. But with so many different weapons, pilots, and boss battles, there is plenty here to justify the $10 asking price. Visually, the brightly colored Flash-like graphics are not anything spectacular but they get the job done and bring a friendly personality to a cannon based brawler.
It is easy to see the inspiration behind Cannon Brawl as it borrows elements from several other titles but it is uncanny how well they melt together. It might be easy to dismiss this game by looking at a screenshot or even a trailer but rest assured this is an entertaining digital download with a level of quality that is unexpected.
Cannon Brawl is also available on Switch, PS4, and PC.
Also Try: Rampart (NES, Arcade, GBC)
Don’t Forget About: Space War Arena (Switch)
Wait For It: another inevitable Worms sequel