Local multiplayer shooters can be a tough sell in this day and age, when people are accustomed to online play, and four-player split-screen parties are few and far between. Maze-like level design, cartoonish violence and varied objectives were a huge part of GoldenEye 007, Perfect Dark, Ooga Booga, and even the multiplayer shooter mode in Banjo-Tooie. For a game to be released today with a great sense of humor, golden goodies to collect and cartoon arena-shooting would indeed be something of an anomaly, and 3..2..1.. Grenades by Banyango is just that.
Personally, I haven’t had an opportunity to dig into the multiplayer mode, but I’ve played the single-player mode from start to finish, and boy, did I have a great time with it. The hub world is laid out in a style reminiscent of kart-racer hub worlds, similar to Diddy Kong Racing or Crash Team Racing, with unlockable gates leading to new arenas. Each gate is only accessible once your character has gathered a specific amount of golden grenades, which can be earned inside arenas, or discovered in hidden locations within the hub world. My 90’s nostalgia really kicked in as I discovered that I could scour the hub world for hidden gold, but from what I’ve gathered, there’s only about 96 golden objects to grab. Making it a full 100 would make my Base-10-Addicted soul soar.
Gameplay in single-player mode is hectic, but well-designed and a total blast once you get the hang of it. I’d certainly recommend turning the AI difficulty down to Easy on all the enemies, as – for me, anyway – the fun of this game is victory and progression, not the slog of fighting off impossibly-difficult AI. The graphics are super charming, with low-poly PS1-styled character models and pixel-graphics on the walls. I should also mention that the boss-creature which shows up a couple times throughout the game is excellently-animated for a small-team indie game, and it truly felt large and dangerous during each battle.
Each arena has five golden grenades to collect, each attached to a specific set of challenges. One challenge might require you to get 10 kills while in low-gravity, while another might simply give the characters big heads, or only allow punch-kills. There’s a ton of verticality in the levels, which really adds depth to the game’s strategy. Capture The Pug mode is a highlight, in which the player needs to capture a tiny pug and slam dunk it into a basketball hoop. It would have been nice to see more challenges involving proximity mines and Grenadelings, which are little alien creatures born from the grenades you throw. It’s all very creative, and clearly made with love for the genre.
There are a few things I’d like to see updated in the future, or adjusted in a sequel. The AI sometimes falls into a loop in levels with destructible environments, and while Capture The Pug mode is hilarious, playing Capture The Pug with inverted controls in the Moon arena was a bit of a nightmare, difficulty-wise. The camera can be a little too bumpy when walking slowly, which might make some players queasy if they’re tip-toeing around, and the slow-mo arena challenges were a little tedious, and didn’t add much to the game. Lastly, the UI’s pixel-sizing varies from font to font, which might be considered a no-no by some pixel purists.
While I definitely have a few gripes with the game, most of them are born from how much I enjoyed my time with 3..2..1..Grenades. There’s just so much to love about it. The Lighthouse, Train and Iceberg levels are fantastic, the variety of challenge is great, and the music through the whole game is super memorable. If you have fond memories of the arena shooters of old, or are interested in collecting some golden objects in an old-school hub world, I definitely recommend checking out 3..2..1.. Grenades at its current price of $8.79 on Steam.