The best games are simple to understand and quick to start. Within five minutes of downloading Cannon Brawl you’ll understand the basic concepts of building mines to bolster your economy, deploying territory balloons to expand your territory and dropping cannons to ensure military superiority over your opponent. New concepts are introduced throughout the campaign, but the core concept is immediately available and understandable. It doesn’t matter if you’re playing solo or with others: those three base units are going to be integral to victory.
Cannon Brawl is a one-on-one two-dimensional real-time strategy game. You’ll control an airship pilot, and your opponent is in a blimp, too. You each have a castle that serves two purposes. It’s a shop where you’ll buy new balloons, mines, and turrets to deploy, and it’s also your headquarters. If it falls, you’ve lost the match, so protecting it is very important. It is relatively protected at the edge of the map, but a fully upgraded cannon can shoot anywhere on the map as long as it has an unobstructed shot, so you’ll want to press your opponent, take out their cannons and put up shields to keep your castle healthy.
Placement is easy to understand. Balloons go in airspace you control and expand your territory. Mines go on gold deposits, and turrets go on the ground. Turret placement matters, as they have a limited range until fully-upgraded, and range doesn’t matter if you build a turret in a hole and can’t get a decent shot at the enemy.
Now there are balloons, mining camps, shield generators, laser emitters and cannons all over the battlefield. In order to use any of them, you’ll need to move your airship around the battlefield and dock with individual turrets. You’ll stop at a shield generator to position and deploy a shield, then go over to a laser emitter for a pinpoint strike on a nearby enemy mining camp, finally heading over to the cannon for a shot at the ground underneath an elevated enemy turret to cause it to fall to a lower level and explode. In each campaign stage, you’ll have the chance to earn three medals for completing the level objective, getting up to a pre-set number of actions per minute and completing the level quicker than the par time. You’ll also be constantly working toward completing quests like “upgrade 10 towers” and “build 50 buildings.” As these quests are completed, you’ll earn currency to spend back at the armory for persistent upgrades.
Multiplayer works just like the single-player campaign: two players go at it until one castle falls. Matches, like the campaign levels, are quick to complete, and all of the towers and strategies that are fun there continue to be fun in multiplayer. Pilots that have been unlocked throughout the campaign are available in multiplayer as well, so if you’re fond of the prince’s passive healing ability then you can use him in multiplayer. Or, if you prefer a more aggressive approach, you can take the Mechanic and her drill ship into battle and punish your opponent for building on cliffs. You can also be a purist and take the princess and her default airship that reduces cooldowns on all towers that gives a nice boost to both offense and defense since you can deploy shields more often and shoot your cannons, lasers and frost turrets more often.
Cannon Brawl is exactly what I want a game to be: easy to understand, fun to play and constantly giving me things to do. I like getting bars to fill up. I like completing incidental quests throughout the normal levels, and I like that there are numerous paths to victory dependent on play style. It’d be nice if I could set up a tower, give it a firing solution and have it fire as soon as available, but forcing player intervention ensures that I can’t just set up a ton of shields and never lose a match.
Pros: Good variety of characters, different paths to victory, fun to dig out an enemy tower and watch it explode
Cons: Battles get super hectic as you’re pulled in multiple directions