I suppose we could also call this article: ‘Why the Hell Aren’t You Playing Cannon Brawl?’

I recently just returned from the second annual GaymerX, held at the lovely InterContinental Hotel in San Francisco, and during my trip, I got my grubby little hands on a countless number of awesome indie titles. Among those titles, there’s one that went above and beyond the call of indie — so much so that I revisited it about 5 times in one day. The game responsible for this insane yet totally justified addiction?

That, my dear nerds, would be Cannon Brawl.


Does that look insanely fun? Well good, because it really, really is.

Cannon Brawl is the newest 2D action game Oakland-based developer Turtle Sandbox, and it’s about the change the way you feel about real-time strategy. The team at Turtle Sandbox believes that games aren’t just entertainment, but a tool to spark imagination and creative thinking. They’re hell-bent on pushing the envelope on fun, and it’s increasingly apparent in the ridiculously addicting Cannon Brawl. It’s a game that’s simple to pick up, but you’ll need to put some time and creative thought into it if you plan on mastering every area — or besting your arch enemy.

The goals are simple: you have your base, and your enemy has theirs. In order to win, you’ll have to destroy it. Oh, did I mention you’ll have to tear through earth, massive cannons, rocket launchers, and even bribe your way to victory?

Cannon Brawl is the next big thing in the real-time strategy artillery genre. In order to be successful, you’ll have to be increasingly strategic with your every move. What starts as a barren land with two bases soon becomes a massive battlefield. You’ll plant new outposts, expand your territory, mine for precious gems, and rain hell upon those who attempt to destroy you. It’s intense, it’s tactical, and it’s on Steam Early Access — which means it’s about to land in your gaming collection.

The real magic of Cannon Brawl rests in its non-stop action. It’s taken all the best things about real-time battle strategy, and thrown away all the boring bits. It’s a constant game of critical thinking, and you’ll need to keep your eyes on the prize every second, lest your enemy float through your mass of defenses. And trust me, that battlefield can easily become an awesome cluster of madness.

Starting out, you’ll choose from a wide range of pilots, each one with a special ability that will aid you in combat — if you know how to properly take advantage of it. You’ll combine your pilot with your choice of buildings and weapons. But be careful! You’re limited on how many you can choose. It’ll take a strategic combination of key buildings and weapons to defeat the enemy player.

Choose wisely, my young apprentices.

With your war machine and defenses in tow, your job is to start claiming land. By using your war machine to drop buildings and weapons, you’ll slowly start taking over different parts of the island — claiming your stake not with a flag, but dastardly war devices. Of course, these buildings don’t come cheap! You’ll have to set up mines to claim gold or destroy land to mine for diamonds. This takes some time, and you can bet your nerdy butt that your enemy is scheming up their very own plan of attack.

It’s your job to advance your armies and set up your defenses again this enemy. With the 1v1 multiplayer aspect, you can play with your best friend or complete stranger — the choice is all yours. Of course, if you’re not into that sort of thing, you can always play against the scheming AI. Here at Max Level, we understand if you don’t want to completely destroy other people online. You’re humble, and we like that.

And finally, just when you think you’ve finally mastered one terrain, there are a dozen just waiting to test your mettle.  You’ll have to navigate an awesome little war ship around the map and choose the location you want to valiantly ride — or, well, float — into battle on. The map is incredibly easy to navigate, and its aesthetics are so dang awesome and cute that you may just feel the need to free ride your war ship around for a bit.


It’s like Mario on some pretty colorful steroids. Each level is equipped with a different difficulty, so I encourage you to choose wisely. An easy level may just be a single mass of land, but move up a difficulty, and you’ll encounter floating islands, water, snow, and gosh, who knows what else. Lions? Tigers? BEARS?

(Disclaimer: there are no bears… yet.)

(Disclaimer’s disclaimer: we probably won’t be seeing bears.)

The coolest thing about Cannon Brawl is the team behind it. Artist Theresa Duringer and Coder/Designer Peter Angstadt are a duo-force to be reckoned with. After meeting at Maxis, the two of them decided it would be a good idea to form Turtle Sandbox. And man, are we happy they did.

Cannon Brawl has been in a two year development cycle, and when it hit its alpha phase on Steam in early July of 2013, it was an overwhelming success. Now, here we are a year later, and Cannon Brawl is quite the indie masterpiece. With all the positive feedback the dev team received from players, they’ve taken the beta to Steam Early Access. If you head there now, you can pick up this beaut for the wonderfully low price of $14.99. This gets you into the early access edition of the game, and you’ll be able to help it  on it’s faithful journey to full-fledged final product. Play it, give feedback, and watch it grow before your eyes.

The team at Turtle Sandbox is constantly adding some impressive updates, so get in while you can. The latest update to the game includes some supremely intense features, including a new nightmare mode — a challenge where you’ll have to survive increasingly aggressive AI if you plan on winning. And you plan on winning, right?

They’ve also taken to adding even more pilots, buildings, and multiplayer maps. We’re pretty sure both Theresa and Peter want you to waste most of your day on this game, and who’s to blame them? It’s hot outside, and Cannon Brawl just feels right.

Looking at the big picture, Cannon Brawl is a fast-paced and compelling adventure that turns the average real-time artillery genre on its head. It’s a tower defense game on acid whose goofy, loving best friend is permanently stuck to its hip. It’s elegantly unique, and opens up an entirely new door for indie games.

Cannon Brawl is currently available on Steam Early Access for PC and Mac users. As an added bonus, there’s talk of an Xbox release, although no official word has been given on the status of that decision. To keep up with the Oakland-based developer and to bug them about all things indie, be sure to check them out on Twitter.

Also, you get a screenshot! And you get a screenshot! Everybody gets a screenshot!

About The Author

Emily is a writer, designer, and professional sassmaster with roots in Georgia. When she's not selling her soul to the writing gods, she's researching new topics, kayaking, and annoying the general population. She one day dreams of ruling the Seven Kingdoms, and can often be found arguing with herself in the third person.

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  1. Cannon Brawl Gears up for September Release - Max Level

    […] Cannon Brawl is the indie game we all deserve. It’s the next big thing in the real-time strategy artillery genre. The 2D action game from Oakland-based developers Turtle Sandbox is one that’s easy to dive into, but challenging to master. The goals are simple: you have your base, and your enemy has theirs. In order to win, you’ll have to destroy it. Oh, did I mention you’ll have to tear through earth, massive cannons, rocket launchers, and even bribe your way to victory? […]


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