Arson and Plunder is a cartoony beat ’em up arcade game that wants to bring back the glory of the good ol’ days, the question is, does it succeed? Made by Chainsaw Syndicate and published by the friendly people of Headup Games for Windows machines, with Mac and Linux ports coming in the future.

Arson and Plunder: Unleashed

Arson and Plunder (Unleashed!) stars… Arson and Plunder. Arson is an elf that can shoot fireballs and Plunder is an orc with a big axe and a small brain. The game features a single player campaign, survival and co-0p campaign and survival. The cooperative features are so far local only, there were plans to have online co-op originally but it didn’t make the final game, maybe a future update will fix this.

Kid friendly game? Maybe.

At a glance this game seems like it would be for kids and young teens, then again so did Conker’s Bad Fur Day, so let’s examine this for a moment.

The presentation is that of a comedy, pointing out several cliches popular in videogames and generally not taking itself seriously. Since humor is subjective, while I didn’t particularly felt that the game was funny I can see many people giggling or openly laughing at the jokes. I even smirked a time or two. Kids and teens would eat it up I’m sure.

The story is that the usual wars between elves and orcs are being rudely interrupted by pesky humans who want to evict them from the forest. To stop them, Arson and Plunder rush to a magic stone that will teleport them through the magic barrier that prevents them from attacking directly, but they touch it at the same time and end up sharing one body with the ability to switch to the other’s body- you know, the same plot device used in Trine. They end up having a begrudging alliance and they go do like their names suggest they do in the human invaders’ lands.

If there was an option to turn blood off it could get away with a G rating I’m sure. The drawings are cartoony, the backgrounds bright and colorful but repetitive, the violence is not worse than what you can find in any kid’s show. So why not add an option to turn off the gore? Even hardcore FPS games have that option!

Overall, I’m not sure who the target audience for the game is but I have a feeling it’s rowdy teens that like games where you smash things and laugh at easy jokes. The game doesn’t really suffer from it’s writing or graphics, and it works for Adam Sandler (until Jack & Jill, then it was downhill for him), so I don’t really mind.

The golden age of sore thumbs.

With full gamepad compatibility, this game does fulfill some of it’s promise of arcade goodness. Even on the lowest difficulty setting I found the game not to be challenging enough, and only a little frustrating on the highest one. On the early levels you can win simply with attack spamming.

The primary game mechanic is a carbon copy of the body swapping done in Trine. At the press of a button, you switch characters to suit your needs, Plunder for close quarters combat and Arson for ranged attacks. But where Trine makes co-op harder with it’s puzzles, A&P makes it easier with the fighting: you’re vulnerable before and during switching, so you’re better off playing co-op.

You have your basic attack with combos and special attacks that drain your energy bar, you can run, jump and attack running or jumping. Pretty standard, and like I said you can win easily by spamming attacks alternating with some specials when you’re being rushed by enemies.

That’s the campaign. The survival mode is different, thankfully, it’s a veritable gauntlet full of traps that you must maneuver while slaughtering your enemies. It steadily increases difficulty, even throwing game bosses into the mix!

Also of note, while you are restricted to Arson and Plunder in the single player, you can pick their friends for the co-op. They have different attacks, combos and special abilities that aren’t covered in the tutorial levels so you should experiment with them too.

Music and verdict.

The highlight of the game is the music, at least for me. I have a soft spot for rock music and this soundtrack does indeed rock! It’s energetic and blood pumping, perfect for any action game! Too bad it’s not offered as an additional purchase though, it’s really great and kudos to the composer.

So, should you buy this game? If you like arcade beat ’em ups, playing with friends at home and/or cheeky humor this is definitely a buy!

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