The umbrella: a handy little tool that’s been keeping folks dry and helping magical nannies fly for centuries. Outside of Batman’s iconic villain the Penguin though, we really haven’t seen it paired with artillery too often. Gunbrella is a game that is aiming to fix all that. I had a chance to go hands-on with the Switch version of the game at a recent event Nintendo held during GDC to see if I had enough true grit to handle Gunbrella.
Genre-wise, Gunbrella is a retro style side-scrolling action adventure with tinges of Capcom classics like Mega Man and what felt a little like Bionic Commando to me. You take on the role of a woodsman armed with the titular Gunbrella. The gun part is your main weapon that handles twin-stick point-and-shoot style. There are other weapons to be found as well as things like grenades and power-ups to help players on their adventure. The umbrella part, though, ends up being quite the handy-dandy little tool.
This is not the kind of umbrella that you grab en route to work at a corner store on an abruptly rainy day, no. You can use this thing to dash, ride on ziplines, and slowly float you down to the ground after a jump. It also has the added benefit of being able to shield you against attacks and if you can get the timing right it can even deflect bullets back at enemies. This Gunbrella is more than just a clever pun, it adds some unique flavor to the gaming experience and I felt like it gave my hands-on time with the game a little extra flair.
My demo time featured the woodsman finding himself stuck in a town that had barricaded itself up after its mayor and another townsperson had been kidnapped by a group of thugs called the Cult 45. If the woodsman was going to keep traveling to his destination he was going to have to rain on their parade. Before heading into action, players will have the opportunity to purchase a few things like buffing pills or healing items if they have enough coins to do so.
Once I headed into the Cult 45’s hideout though, it was all business, Gunbrella style. The Gunbrella is a fairly close-ranged weapon and combat flows from room-to-room. The cultist I saw during the demo had a few different variations. Some were more of your standard walk-and-shoot sort of enemies while others would do things like float in the air and shoot giant laser balls at you. There were even things like rapid-fire turrets that required getting the deflecting timing down with the Gunbrella to destroy. Overall each room felt like solving a combat-based puzzle if I wanted to get through it without a scratch. There were multiple times where I didn’t do such a great job at that. Fortunately, there were plenty of park benches for me to sit on along the way and save my progress. And while I didn’t get to take it on myself, I did watch another player take on a giant boss monster that felt like something straight out of Mega Man.
Overall, Gunbrella feels like it is taking some queues from a few classic Capcom titles, a couple of old school Metroidvanias, and adding in some of its own flavor with a pretty cool and unique weapon and tool. Developers Doinksoft and their publisher Devolver may be keeping players high and dry with Gunbrella later this year.
This preview is based on hands-on time with the Nintendo Switch version of Gunbrella at a press event. The game is set to launch for the Nintendo Switch and PC in 2023.