At this point in time, it’s hard to predict which technology will replace the average gas-powered car. Electric cars? Hoverboards? Flying vehicles? With the future being so open, maybe we should consider the method of transportation highlighted by Nitrome’s new game: The Gunbrick.
The Gunbrick is a steel cube that “rolls” over the streets (and through any fleshling unfortunate enough to get in the way). It has an impenetrable shield on one end, and a cannon on the other. And it’s the vehicle you pilot in the titular Gunbrick, an action / puzzle hybrid that’s quite unlike anything else on the App Store.
Gunbrick’s protagonist is a weird yellow dude who looks kind of like a Nosepass from Pokemon. He orders a new Gunbrick off TV and hops in. You take the reins from there.
At first, your only concern is squishing anything that gets in your way. But before long, it becomes obvious you’re in a city that’s having its infrastructure revised to better suit Gunbricks. Not to suggest the going is safe, of course. There are platforms in the air as well as traps, road blocks, and adversaries.
When the Gunbrick is upright, it has a thick shield on top and a cannon on its bottom. The shield and gun change positions as you roll, and positioning said features correctly are key to completing levels. The shield blocks attacks and hazards, while the gun breaks through road blocks and disposes of hostile objects and enemies.
But there’s more to the gun’s function than mere destruction. It’s also a system of propulsion, as well as a way to adjust your Gunbrick when its faculties aren’t in the right position. For instance, there’s no jumping in Gunbrick; all you can do is use the gun to propel yourself upwards. If you’re not positioned so that you’ll land on a platform, you can flip your cube to one side, fire your weapon, and let the recoil slide you along. With some foresight, you’ll be able to flip your Gunbrick until it’s positioned directly under the platform and your guns are pointing downwards.
Gunbrick is satisfying on a mental level, and it also sates that little man that lives in your head and begs you to play action games. Remember those steel cubes in Super Mario 64’s Shifting Sand Land? Remember how you had to predict their movements so that Mario would be safe in the hollow spot when the massive boxes rolled over him? If you enjoyed that, you’ll go nutty for Gunbrick.
It helps that the game is designed to be as painless as possible, even during its many challenging moments. Levels are broken up into individual puzzles, each marked with a checkpoint. Checkpoints appear frequently, and when you do mess up, any enemies you disposed of earlier and / or roadblocks you cleared away remain gone. Re-dos rarely feel like a frustrating chore.
Gunbrick is wholly its own vehicle, and very much worth a play. Whatever we wind up driving in the future probably won’t be as lethal as one of these babies, so you may as well indulge in some weird destruction via the digital world.