Gunroar: a fast, visually beautiful horizontal scrolling shoot em up

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Gunroar is a frantic, free horizontally scrolling 360-degree shoot em up featuring colorful vector-style graphics. It employs an interesting gameplay innovation where the user can decide on the pace and speed of their experience as they play the game.

Gunroar also offers multiple modes of play to choose from that provide very different playing experiences, including mouse, keyboard, and double-play.

This might sound strange given that this is a review of a horizontal-scrolling shoot-em-up, but one of the main reasons I chose to post this game is that it is so beautiful to look at – not pretty as in detailed sprites, meticulously drawn bitmaps or high res backgrounds, but what it manages to do is create a psychedelic terrain awash with colors using abstract vector-style graphics that … are simply extremely cool to look at.

The thumping techno-style soundtrack also warrants a mention; all of these elements together just work!

But, to get back to basics: in Gunroar you command a gunboat racing up-river. Along the way you will encounter all manner of enemy ships, installations, and big-boss types as well as large un-passable landscape areas that you have to navigate around. Fairly standard stuff, except for the following (a) you can decide to move faster by pushing your gunboat up towards the top of the screen; the faster you move the faster your score multiplier grows. Also (b) the faster you destroy your enemies the more points you get for them.

Given the above the game is obviously designed to incentivize you to play it fast as possible; however that’s not a necessity if you prefer to play differently. Here are more notes on this game:

  • Game modes: the three game modes (mouse, dual play and normal) offer completely different gaming experiences. Initially I was partial to mouse mode, which I thought was my favorite, only to discover later on that the other modes had a lot to offer as well. I also found that a single player can play easily dual mode (and control both ships using both hands) – try it out I highly recommend it.
  • Weapons: there is a primary weapon that auto-fires just by keeping the key pressed and a secondary weapon that has to be fired singly be repeatedly de-pressing. Note that the weapons are slightly different across different game modes.
  • Enemy fire: in most cases it will take multiple hits to destroy you (and you will always start off with a shield around your ship that has to be depleted as well). In some cases you are able to destroy enemy shots coming at you and it seems that once you destroy an enemy their shots die off as well. Also note that those lines that look like enemies laser-aiming at you are precisely that, and can be used to good effect to determine the direction where they will be coming from.
  • Replay: you can replay the last played game or share with others by copying the “last.rpl” file from the game directory.

The verdict: a very nice game that provides a tremendous gameplay experience and some original variations on the standard shoot-em-up theme. I’m not sure if this game can sustain an active interest for a long period of time, but I do know that, on the flip side, it can be picked up and played without a huge commitment or a large learning curve being required. Oh – I also know that this game is very cool and highly recommend it.

Version Tested: 0.15

Compatibility: Windows (with OpenGL required); Linux.

Go to the game page to download the latest version (approx 5.24 megs); go here for Linux.