Wildcat Gun Machine is a silly name. A gun is already a ‘machine’, so the last word in the title is redundant. It’s likely however, the the title of the game is designed to reflect it’s content rather than strictly adhere to any reasonable rules of the English language, as Wildcat Gun Machine is also a silly game. And a thoroughly enjoyable one at that.
Wildcat Gun Machine fits firmly into the mould of a twin stick shooter. It doesn’t argue with the formula too much or try to innovate. But what is there is pitched perfectly. It’s a tip-top example of genre, played out with fantastic visuals and a pulse-pounding score. Striking out against the latest trend, Wildcat Gun Machine doesn’t feature randomised levels. Instead, a selection of lengthy, expertly crafted maps await.
The game begins without any kind of tutorial. It simply throws the player into a labyrinth and expects them to figure everything out for themselves. Thankfully, any gamer worth their salt will do so very quickly; one stick moves, the other aims. You can only have a pistol (with unlimited ammo) and a special weapon (very limited) equipped at any one time. You can respawn immediately upon death, but only if you have any respawn cats available. What’s more, all of this can be upgraded.
Every kill earns you bones, which can be used to purchase a variety of new weapons and upgrades. There’s also instant, temporary boosts available in some of the rooms – such as slow-motion or a shield – but these are often placed right in the heart of the enemy, so obtaining them can be tricky. The player must learn to use the dash – a manoeuvre that allows them to travel through enemy bullets – in order to capitalise.
Thankfully, despite the lack of tutorial Wildcat Gun Machine does an excellent job of pacing (despite some bosses being considerably easier than their predecessor). It’s a difficult game, but rarely is it unfair. By the time you’re halfway through the second act you’ll be wondering how you even died once during the first.
From a visual and aural perspective, Wildcat Gun Machine feels like it wants to be a DOOM spin-off. There’s so many winks and nods to the seminal FPS serious it’s hard to ignore. Colour coded doors, flaming skull enemies, thumping electronic soundtrack. These are just the tip of the iceberg. The cartoonish visuals are fantastic and the enemy variety means that you’ll never get bored. There’s always something new just around the corner – even if it costs you five lives to get there.
Wildcat Gun Machine is simply a fantastic twin stick shooter. It ranks up against the best of the genre, the likes of Enter the Gungeon and Nuclear Throne. It will engross you throughout it’s duration, which will likely be a few evenings, and leave you wondering when you’ll be able to get your hands on more. There hasn’t been much fanfare for Wildcat Gun Machine, but to ignore it would be nothing short of foolish. And that’s despite the ridiculous name.