Vinnie is back for more !!
The guns, the gore, and all the cannoli one can think off, after the final cutscene of the first installment in the series, I booted up its big brother to continue riding my high, 20+ years later in the storyline. Guns, Gore and Cannoli 2. Is it more of the same as its successful predecessor, or a breath of fresh air? Continue reading to find out!
If you have read my review for the first part of Vinnie Cannoli’s adventures through Thug Town you must know I am a big-time lover of the game and rate it among the best currently on the Nintendo Switch and its already extensive library. If you haven’t though, this might be a good time to pick up on it and have yourself a read before continuing with this one.
“360 degrees baby!”
Heading into this second installment I was pining for more of the same, with some improvements about which I commented and the aforementioned review, including the floaty jumps, the button layout in multiplayer mode, small tweaks to the animations and movements and overall just more body to the game, i.e. longer gameplay. Apparently, my southern neighbors felt the same in the grand scheme of things and did just that, by flushing the game out some more with slightly longer gameplay (also because of a higher default difficulty), crouching movement and animation, and the button layout received a huge revision. In fact, so much changed up in respect to the latter, that I had a hard time navigating through the levels as I kept on pressing the wrong buttons at crucial times (the same thing happened after beating this installment and going back to the first game). The biggest change being the shift from a single joystick for movement to a twin-stick setup, a requirement for 360 degrees rotation as you fire at your enemies – something praiseworthy and that should work fluidly, at least in theory. In practice, navigating through an action platformer with twin stick motion is not the best option – call me old-fashioned. While trying to turn to face enemies coming up from behind me, muscle memory, especially considering I played rigorously through the first installment in the series, kept me from flipping the second joystick into the opposite direction, which ended up in a lot of unnecessary deaths on my part. For newcomers to the series though, I can see this working really neatly, while after playing through this game first and diving into its predecessor afterward will more likely than not feel like a step back.
“Where is my cocktail?”
The aim of changing things up, as previously mentioned, is of course to achieve a higher degree of freedom in your gun-handling, and that works really well. There is some auto-focus, locking onto targets as they come by, though I opted for manual aiming for most of the time. To be able to shoot right above or below you, just slightly on a diagonal line, or anywhere in between is an absolute improvement to the game and along with the added-in crouching movement, two of its strongest features. The weapon-wheel for quick selection of your weaponry is another good addition, though not necessarily always quicker than just cycling through them by calculated button presses. Speaking of weaponry, I don’t quite understand why the grenades and Molotov cocktails didn’t make it to the final product of Guns, Gore and Cannoli 2, some of the items which made the first game so great. Sure enough, there are more weapons to choose from, including a certified rocket launcher, but I still miss those little suckers.
“Vinnie ‘Speed Run’ Cannoli”
One of the biggest improvements in terms of maneuverability is the added-in dodge roll. Man do I love that move! It makes for such good movement through the campaign, dodge-rolling along the ground or even in mid-air is simply the cherry on top of an already lovely cake! It also helps tremendously in your speed runs. Though I am not much of a speed runner, in reviewing this game, I managed to successfully speed-run the first two chapters, Warehouse, and Movie Night, on the highest difficulty setting, impossible, which, in fact, is quite possible given a dead or two… While speed running I managed to fire my guns only when absolutely necessary for the continuation of the levels and kept most of the thugs alive. This meant, of course, that behind the scenes garbage collection became quite too much to handle, so much so that the framerate of the game slowed down visibly. Though not a big issue at all, it is interesting to see how the game is optimized for generic play. This must also have to do with the fact that Guns, Gore and Cannoli 2 has a different handling of the camera, where much more is visible all at once, with a much more zoomed-out camera than its predecessor. At first, this zooming out I found to be quite the bother, as the first game seemed just right, though after finishing the second installment and going back to the first, I cannot say which is the better, I guess I still would stick with the first though.
Story-wise, there’s nothing much to write home about, though it’s a fun story as it is, though the return to Thugtown is something they could have done without in my opinion. The game does feature some marvelous cut-scenes and solid voice-acting that makes the game stand out still, even in terms of its ongoing plot.
In terms of art direction and music & sound effects, you’ll know you’re in good hands with the team behind this game, as the same style from the first has been successfully carried over with some improvements here and there, all to the delight of my eyes, ears, and whole being.
A thing of absolute bewilderment is the removal of the versus mode! Where I previously mentioned that the developer was in no way obliged to introduce any such mode into the game, but did so nonetheless, I would be sure that would be received to great fanfare all around and, therefore, would lay the groundwork for this successor. Though this installment comes with an online mode, the local versus option is something to be missed, unfortunately.
All in all, Guns, Gore and Cannoli 2 is a fantastic little game that successfully builds on its predecessor and keeps our spirits high. Though not an improvement on all fronts, with some cuts here and there, some vital elements have been implemented that make this game stand out on its own. Reviewing this game as a successor, I cannot truthfully claim this is the better of the two, with the first game still holding a special place for its uniqueness. Reviewed on its own merits though, it’s a stellar game and one that should be picked up by any and every one, today! I am ready for Guns, Gore and Cannoli III guys, time to Switch it up!