I want to get one thing off my chest that as a gamer I feel like I really need to get out there… I suck at the RTS genre, but boy do I enjoy myself some StarCraft II. Its not that I suck really, I can understand the basics of the game, but to play it well is really a daunting challenge that I haven’t been able to put the time or effort into. Then a little email popped into my inbox about a game called Cannon Brawl. It turns out that my skills as an RTS player, or rather lack of, was extremely welcome here. I dove into the various mechanics that have you thinking strategically, and all the while speeding to both attack and defend against your opponent. The intensity and the edge of your seat moments in this game really brought about a fun less demanding RTS experience that just about anyone could pick up to play.

Cannon Brawl is a two player strategy title hybrid; it takes elements of an RTS and mixes it with a classic “Worms” gameplay aesthetic. This mixture actually turned out to work really well for the developers at Turtle Sandbox. Each player starts out the game with a castle placed in two separate locations of the map. It is each player’s objective to destroy their opponent’s castle, how they go about it is completely up to them, but I promise it will end with a BANG!

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You’ll learn the basics as you make you’re way through the adventure mode.

Before the game begins players have the opportunity to pick an airship pilot, each one has their own special property. One has faster cool down, one can heal adjacent towers, and another can demolish land faster than the rest. There are plenty more pilots to choose from that must be unlocked within game xp. Then once pilots have been selected players will go on to select the towers they will use in the upcoming battle. The towers vary from normal cannons, to crawling bombs, shields, and even economy buildings to support your efforts. The RTS elements become very apparent when playing any of these battles as you must worry about your resources alongside what your opponent is doing. Reacting accordingly and in a timely fashion can either mean certain victory, or utter defeat.

During combat you must fly from your castle to build anything. Upon landing at your castle you must quickly select the tower you wish to place. The problem being you can’t just place a tower next to your opponent’s castle as it would be too easy, so you must build a “Territory” in which your airship is allowed to place buildings. The more area you can grab the less area you opponent has to work with. You can of course destroy these towers and reclaim territory, but the one with the most advantageous position or strategy is bound to win the game. Using a mixture of all the towers available to you can create some pretty elaborate plans of victory. For example the laser tower only shoots in a straight line but can be deflected off shields from shield towers. With that in mind you can bounce your laser off of your opponent’s shield set up and then bounce it off your shield to get a different angle of a shot.

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There are many buildings for you to choose from, and depending upon your strategy each one has a very favorable use.

Also keep in mind these towers aren’t free, so you have to manage your economy while prepping to attack/defend. But you may be so confident as to not bring along your mining tower to place on the map. While that is an option, I’ve yet to see that strategy work in PvP. Economy prevents you from rapidly building your towers to overwhelm your opponent. You must think carefully in Cannon Brawl as every precious resource, towers included, counts and thats a lesson all RTS players know too well.

Now to fire any weapon on your enemy you yourself must dock with the tower and aim it by hand to attack. Each tower works on a set time, so you can’t spam your one attack repeatedly. Building multiple towers will allow for more frequent attacks. Also since the land is destructible you have other ways of making your opponent panic. Sometimes its faster to destroy the land a tower stands on, thus resulting in the tower to fall. If a tower falls from a drop it receives damage, including castles, I once dropped a whole castle on my opponent as oppose to hitting it directly. This drop usually destroys anything that falls depending upon the height, which creates another route to victory.

So of the towers I mentioned the basic cannon tower, and also the laser and shield. But you also have repair towers, rocket towers, ice towers that slow cooldown times. You even have a choice of balloon to deploy, which help grab territory, but one balloon actually speeds up your cooldown time to attack more frequently. The crawling bomb I mentioned earlier is a cool tower in which it launches the bomb and it walks until it hits something or suffers from a fall. Alone these towers have very simple setups, but combining them makes them even more of a threat! Plus all of the towers are upgradable so you can add additional power to these abilities. As an example the shield usually holds against two hits, but upgrade it and it can double that!

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Red has plenty of territory. But with blue utilizing that warhead missile, they’ll be able to keep the pressure on their opponent and take out the threatening laser!

Now while Cannon Brawl is plenty of fun and a really addicting pickup game. The gameplay is very simple and stays relatively the same throughout the adventure. While there is PvP you’re simply doing the same tactics that you were in the adventure mode. Not that this is a bad thing, as even Starcraft II suffers from the repeat play style, and neither that or even Cannon Brawl really needs to do anything more. The team stuck with what worked, and there is no point in trying to twist what is already a solid mash up of genres. I certainly give props to the online play as it was very smooth and connection issue free! My only wish is that in the future there is the addition of more players to the game. While having two players is fun and challenging, I can only think of the chaos that would ensue if we added perhaps two more players. Perhaps later on also add a level editor, it’d be cool to see what players could come up with in the way of maps to play on. But with the current state of things there is still plenty for you to do!

Cannon Brawl does actually feature some pretty solid unlockables to keep you playing. The more you play the more XP you get which you use to spend on the unlockable towers and pilots to use in both adventure and PvP. The cost of these items is pretty high, but they give you the opportunity to read and understand what each item or pilot does to make an informed decision when you decide to fork over xp. This game is not pay to win by any means so you must work to get that special pilot you’ve been waiting for. Unlocks populate both PvP xp and even pilots can be unlocked through adventure mode. So there is plenty to do for those achievement hunters/completionists out there.

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A handful of unlocks for you to work toward, including some special towers that come in handy for PvP.

While matches are pretty speedy, the games are limited to either keyboard or controller functionality. I do wish it were keyboard mouse compatible, I think that the speed of the matches would make them that much more intense. However, thats where balancing of the airships come in, when using the keyboard or controller you’ll “feel” the speed of your airship. If you really think about it, this was a beautiful design decision, as it forced the player into worrying about how long it took for them to fly to a particular point, and then forced you to understand moves that you’d be sacrificing by trying to fly to the other side of the map as opposed to just aiming your shots further.

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This is by far the best example of the carnage that can show up during a game, Red is quickly running out of options as Blue continues to barrage them with missiles!

While Cannon Brawl isn’t simply an RTS, but rather a hybrid of a couple genres, those that are intimidated by the RTS culture can come here for a casual RTS experience. The intensity of moving about the map in an effective way and knowing that one wrong move could cost you a precious bit of territory, or even worse, the match adds that much more excitement. The game is simple to pick up and play, but even more challenging to truly master. A game developed in such a smart way that it’s mechanics stand out in great fashion. From the varying play styles of pilots and their abilities, to how mixing the various tower choices to compliment that style, you’ll find yourself utilizing almost anything to quickly defeat your opponents. I personally keep coming back to the game as I still find myself baffled at how something so simple can be such a complicated metagame, and I find myself enjoying every second of it. Cannon Brawl is currently available on PC, Mac, and Linux via Steam.

This review is based on a PC copy provided by the developers at Turtle Sandbox.

Cannon Brawl Review
Cannon Brawl is a really well thought out RTS title. It features just enough to let you understand it's core and then expand upon it with your own creative strategy and mind. While there wasn't too much in the way of content, Cannon Brawl really shines in its multiplayer more so than anything else, and the amount of content included was perfect for what they achieved.
Execution of Mechanics8
Content7
Level Design8
Online Play9
Controls9
The Good
  • Really simple to pick up and play
  • Great pace of play during matches
  • Levels compliment various strategies
The Bad
  • Only two players allowed in matches
  • Lack of a level editor
8Overall Score
Reader Rating: (1 Vote)
7.7

About The Author

Broadcast Team Lead

Alex enjoys long walks on the beach, mountain biking, and spending time in his extensive library reading novels from authors of yore. His hobbies include traveling the world putting small critters into ball shaped capsules, slaying Flying Wyverns, and mastering his wake-up Heavy Shoryuken!