Canabalt Review

If you're also a smart phone gamer, then you'll be very familiar with a type of game known as an "infinite runner". If not, then it's pretty much what it sounds like. You control a character that runs through a side-scrolling world until the character dies. Once death occurs the game is over and you have to start all over again from the beginning. The goal of these games is simply to see how far you can go before your game ends, and your game usually ends pretty quickly, as in under a minute quickly.

As I'm sure that you've guessed by now Canabalt is an infinite runner, and as an infinite runner it pretty much covers the basics for the genre and not much else. In fact, it could serve as the poster child for the genre because it's about as basic an infinite runner as you'll ever find. Part of this is intentional as the game's graphics evoke a classic 8-bit gaming vibe, and Canabalt is even more retro-looking than that since the game's entirely in black and white. As a PlayStation Mini, it's probably best played on a PSP as the graphics look particularly blocky on a PS3 and the short, repetitive gameplay is best suited to portable rather than console play.

The entire game is played using the X-button to jump. When the game starts you begin running to the right, pressing the jump button when an obstacle or gap presents itself. As you run you pick up speed as long as you don't hit one of the obstacles. While the obstacles aren't fatal in and of themselves, the loss of momentum could prove to be deadly when you hit the next gap. The game plays out on the rooftops of an urban cityscape during what appears to be an alien invasion. You run along jumping from building to building, which is made all the more difficult by the aliens blowing up buildings beneath your feet or by the need to sometimes time your jump so that you can leap into an open window in the next building. Once you miss a jump you'll die, the game will report how far you made it in meters, and then you can start the whole thing over again if you'd like. That's about all there is to it - you run to the right for a minute or so (if you're good) until you die, with only your previous best distance to beat.

There are some gamers out there who will really enjoy the game's retro vibe and catchy background music, as well as its high degree of difficulty. Chances are that you'll already know if you fall in that category, and if you don't you should probably pass on the game as you'll play it for a five minutes or so and then never feel the need to play it again.

Final Rating: 68%. An infinite runner with short gameplay best saved for the gamer who appreciates a challenging arcade-style game.


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