There aren’t enough single-screen multiplayer games on the App Store for my liking. Good ones, that is. But lucky Frame’s Gentlemen! makes up for that by being so hard to put down. Both players take up the role of a Victorian gentlemen with moustache and top hat, plus a grand little suit. They look very proper, but what they partake in is far from a civilized gentleman’s duel. Each player has left and right arrow keys at their bottom section of the screen, as well as a button to use the weapon they’ve been issued with and another next to it that allows them to flip the gravity for their gentleman.
Important to making this work are the level layouts as they’ve been specifically designed so that they’re symmetrical, and therefore look the same, no matter what end of the iPad you’re sitting at.
What then ensues is a two-player deathmatch that had my sister and me throwing knives, chucking bombs and sending deadly homing pigeons at each other. Oh, those damn pigeons! By far, they are the most powerful weapon in the game as they’re homing and very good at trapping you in corners. They’re probably a bit overpowered, to be honest. Whoever has them is almost bound to win, so every time we start a match and glance over to see what each other’s weapons are, if one has a pigeon, then you’d hear one of us scream in terror. It became part of the fun, even if they weren’t balanced, adding an extra ounce of dread and tension.
That’s probably the most important aspect of Gentlemen! – the weapon randomization. The level design works well so that it’s a level playing field, and the frantic horizontal movement, combined with the constant gravity-switching, makes for some great chaos. But it’s the weapons that really make the game impossible to stop playing, even after a few hours of solid play. Each match is a race to get four kills before your opponent, and the power balance constantly switches. One match, you may have throwing knives when your opponent has dynamite; the next, you may be able to give a close-range electric shock while they have homing pigeons. There are also bombs that are thrown and other throwing knives that go out at diagonals. And if you’re not happy with what weapons you both have, then you can chance hitting one of the buttons on-screen that switches both of your weapons around. Switching weapons in mid-game can be vital for victory, but you may end up slapping each other as one of you tries to stop the other from hitting the button. It’s hilarious!
The different ranges of these weapons and different positions you have to be in relative to your opponent for them to work means that you’re both fighting for spatial advantage in these tight levels.
“Go head-to-head with your frenemy in 19th Century England, settling your grievances with knives, bombs, deadly homing pigeons and more.”
And when the match is over, you’re given the choice to go back to the menu or to just hit replay and go again. Due to the excitement of finding out what weapons you’ll have against each other, you just want to keep going, despite no score being kept. It’s quick matches, with a winner crowned in less than a minute, easily, but as soon as the next match starts, all is reset, and perhaps the loser will have the upper-hand with a certain weapon.
When playing Gentlemen!, we couldn’t let the competitive spirit slip and were laughing ourselves giddy as complete chaos ensued on the screen. There were even funnier times when we were both tussling on either side of a single platform and trying to get the slip on each other. It’s just very fast and competitive fun that you should definitely try out if you’ve got someone to play with.