Canabalt is a lot like the type of mini-game that would be found as an unlockable in a WarioWare! title. If I had played a five second version of this game, I would definitely want a longer, fuller version of it for the sake of whipping out and playing while in line at the bank or stuck in traffic. The play mechanics are simple in both the browser version and the App available for the iPhone/iPod Touch, tap “X” or anywhere on the screen to make the players little running man jump to avoid obstacles or clear gaps between buildings, billboards, and cranes. The longer that gamers can do so, the faster and higher the little running man can run and jump, eventually hitting his stride. Hitting some obstacles like boxes and chairs only work to slow the player down while others like chunks of debris and crumbling buildings will kill the little running guy and that will be the end of that.
Gamers have an unlimited number of chances to get as far as they can in Canabalt, which helps lend that “one more game” type of addictive nature to the title. Online leader boards and local best runs are tracked and the game even allows gamers to Tweet their best efforts as means to taunt friends, though it is feature I personally do not use.Graphically, the game looks great with a style that screams early-90’s PC gaming. Sound-wise, the two songs available in the App are awesome, and I would definitely heed the pre-game warning to wear headphones, as there are audio clues to help gamers pick out certain upcoming obstacles.
My biggest gripe about Canabalt is also its coolest feature: Randomly Generated Levels. Each time a player starts a game up, the level is different than the last time. This will keep Canabaltists going for a while, but the randomness isn’t 100% avoidable. I can be having a great run ruined my landing on a crumbling building that is far too long to traverse and jump from before it falls completely, taking me with it.
Gripe aside, the game is as addictive as any WarioWare! mini-game could hope to be without being developed by Nintendo. Give the browser version a whirl to get an idea of how it plays, but know that the App, which is $2.99, plays silky smooth, stores 20 run records locally, and has that pick-up-and-play appeal that I find one of the most appealing prospects of owning an iPhone or iPod Touch. Saying: “For three bucks, gamers’ mileage will vary” is kind of a stupid thing to say about game where the objective is running as far as a player can, so I won’t. I will say that I put Canabalt through its paces, though, and that $3 really went the distance.
Because that is not stupid at all.