As you can see from the character line up, the game is teeming with Capcom fan service, but that isn't all. The Unholy Dwelling is straight out of a Resident Evil game, right down to the zombie dogs attacking you. Some of the towns, such as The Occupied Town and the Perished Town, seemed to be based off some Street Fighter and/or Final Fight locales. And mentioned before, some of the characters have their trademark moves as their attacks.
The interesting thing about the game is its setup. It can be easily described as a shoot em up mixed with Contra for good measure. It's over head, one screen look gives it a Power Stone feel to it. While not creative by any means, it gets the job done by being a fast paced shooter. And it's rather hard too. Not so much because of the enemies AI (which at times you wonder if it even exist) but for the sheer amount of fire power that they have and a total lack of reaction to your attacks.
Being an arcade game, there typically isn't a story and you'd be half right. The story is some kind of nonsensical mess about terrorist robots running rampant in the world and it's up to an "Anti-Robot Special Force" equipped with motor boots to destroy this evil menace. It's a bit weird that they randomly name your group the Anti-Robot Special Force, yet in the instructional manual each characters biography makes it appear as though they are working alone or affiliated with a different group. The actual game makes no mention of this, as you are immediately thrusted into the game ready and raring to battle.
Cannon Spike keeps it pretty simple with it's one and only objective: destroy everything that moves. Each button has a specific attack. Normal and heavy attacks take a cue from beat-em ups such as Final Fight for fighting enemies up close with physical attacks (which are specific to each character). Since each character is loaded with a gun, each character can also shoot down opponents from afar with a rapid shot or use heavy shots that are also specific to each character. Using your gun and physical attacks effectively is key in this game. The rapid shot is really weak and the Heavy Shots have way too much lag afterwards, so using physical attacks aggressively is actually a good strategy (some of the character's physical attacks are actually stronger than their heavy shot counterpart!). Last but not least, are the special attacks which can only be used if you have at least one special item.
The special attacks usually end up with some very impressive explosions and most enemies being completely fried. You always start out with five in stock and there are at least one special items to perform the special attack in each stage so you can use them frequently although it's best to use them during boss battles or when the pressure is too much. All this shooting and fighting wouldn't be tedious with out a targeting system, and Cannon Spike has one albeit a bad one. You can lock on to enemies so you can skate around and shoot them to your hearts content. The only problem is that the lock on only last for four seconds, so after that you have to either relock on or you're going to be shooting sporadically with out realizing it.
The game is set up much like Alien Soldier, in where that the game is pretty much one boss battle after another. At the start of each stage you have to battle waves of terrorist which usually consist of either humans with weapons, robots, or robots with weapons. All enemies are typically the same, with being able to usually just shoot out tiny bullets or land a punch if they're close enough. Once you have defeated every enemy, a midboss accompanied by with more enemies comes along to wreak more havoc. The midbosses tend to be much more massive although sometimes not so much and they range from a helicopter to a zombie gorilla. Once you defeat this wave, the actually boss of the level will attack you with the possibility of having minions with him/her. These bosses are the games challenge as they tend to shoot many bullets for you to avoid much like a shmups. There are a few instances where they will shoot at you that is reminiscent of a bullet hell feeling, as with many Psikyo games, with all the projectiles coming in at you. It sometimes weird however when some opponents will fire at you even though they don't have a weapon on them such as Cat Lady Beauty's second form or Fallen Balrog's five way knife throw from his claws.
Once you beat the game, you are given some gorgeous artwork of character specific endings. Not only are there specific character endings for the one player mode, but two player mode has specific endings as well. The funniest one I've seen is after Cammy and Shiba complete their mission, Cammy makes Shiba become her bitch and go shopping for herself. Beat the game once and you are treated with gallery mode to view official artwork and sketches for the game.
At a technical stand point, the game doesn't fair too well. As an arcade game, it looks fine. But this game isn't looking too sharp on the Dreamcast. I will commend the artist for the game however, as the art is really top notch and the make overs for the characters are really well done. The music...ugh. The music is terrible to listen to and some of the songs don't start up right away so you're left with silence for about three seconds into a fight. The only tracks that sound even remotely decent is the Uninhabited Station area and the Geofort Entrance. One level, which takes place in an abandoned mine, has music ripped straight out of Indiana Jones. The only voice acting are the yells and such whenever you pick up items - they're alright but highly repetitive.
The only real complaint about this game is that it's really short. And I mean short like it will take you literally ten to fifteen minutes to beat this game. However short the game may be, it's one of those games that is always good to pop in once and awhile just to blow up terrorist robots.
The Armchair Empire Review Review from the Armchair Empire.
Gunspike Capcom of Japan's official Gunspike arcade site.
GamesFirst! Glowing review of the Dreamcast game.