A Buster Bros. clone (aka Pang), Knights & Guns is an action game that offers some quality, mindless fun when played in short bursts and with a co-op partner at your side.
Playing as a knight whose kingdom was invaded by monsters, it is your job to kill these beasts not by using a sword but with an assortment of modern day weaponry. The difference here is the player can only shoot upwards from a 2D side scrolling perspective. Taking this limitation into consideration, enemies bounce all over the screen with extended height so the player can attack from below. If you played Pang before, it is the same gameplay only swap the non-threatening bubbles with gross creatures, include a floaty jump mechanic, and a screen-clearing super move.
Sure, the gameplay can be repetitive within a short amount of time but Knights & Guns makes a quality effort from being a one trick pony. The campaign map is divided into tiles. Clear the objective in one tile, such as defeating all enemies or surviving for a certain amount of time, and the adjacent tiles become available. This gives the player options on how to proceed with the campaign. Want to clear it within the shortest amount of moves? Go for it. Want to clear every stage with every optional objective because you are a completionist? There is a lot here to chew on. As a distraction from the campaign, players can also participate in an endless mode with the goal of climbing higher on the leaderboard.
The monsters vary in size, shape, and movesets and so does the stage design. Yes, there are static stages that are locked to a single screen but there are others that scroll, some scroll a lot, and some are even stacked vertically. The wider stage variation, along with the large enemies that break apart into smaller enemies, helps to spice up gameplay level after level. Some campaign map tiles also feature items, like keys, that can be used to unlock chest tiles, rewarding the player with more loot. The control configuration takes some time to get used to but there are a few different options found in the main menu. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get my Pro Controller to assign the trigger buttons as opposed to the shoulder buttons though. Hitting the triggers, especially when the screen is filled with dozens of bouncing monsters, are much easier to hit than the shoulder buttons.
Defeated enemies drop gold. Collected gold can be spent at the store to unlock things. There are a couple statistical upgrades, like enhancing the health and magic meter, but most are cosmetic. Unlocking a bunch of outfits is cool but doesn’t provide much incentive when it does not alter gameplay in anyway. Paying gold to unlock the game’s soundtrack and on-demand cutscenes isn’t great either an acts as an empty filler. There are a number of different guns available, ranging from simple pistols to machine guns to lasers to a Ghost Buster-like wave beam, but it is a bit of a disappointment they cannot be upgraded. Each gun plays differently too. The shotgun, for example, is very powerful but takes a long time to load that next shot.
For a game built so strongly around action, there is a lot of story here. The comic book cutscene panels have been created with care and are complete with voice acting. Honestly, the game would be the same without the narrative but it is welcomed that the plot is there.
If you are looking for a quality Buster Bros clone, here it is. The action can get repetitive but that doesn’t mean there isn’t any fun to be had. In fact, if you can play couch co-op with a friend, this is one of those games to play for 20 minutes when you get home from a long day, don’t really want to think, and just have some dumb fun. Knights are cooler when armed with heavy artillery anyway.
Also Try: the Buster Bros. Collection (PSOne)
Don’t Forget About: the great Wii light gun-style games
Wait For It: don’t forget about S.N.I.P.E.R. Hunter Scope (Switch)