Canabalt HD is the new PC re-release of the arcade-esk handheld game of the same name. This game has you playing as a business man who is on the run for his life as there is an alien invasion going on. The goal of the game is to run as far as you can on levels that have no end and try your best to get a high score. You are running on rooftops where there will be obstacles trying to put a stop to your life and these include: Pitfalls, missiles, giant machines, and even other buildings that will collapse once you have landed on them. This version of the game also has some new modes thrown into the mix and also even has multiplayer added in. This version is defiantly the most beefed up version of date, but will this end up also being the most definitive version of this game? (Click "Read More" to read the full review).
The story in this game is very thin as you only know two things: There's an alien invasion, and that you are some business man that must run like hell. The rest of what is going on is left to your imagination and that's not a bad thing, that's a fun thing and a very fun thing at that. What's more simpler than the story is the gameplay itself as all you need to play this game is one single working button and pressing that button will make you jump (I can hear a sigh of relief from everybody that bought an Atari 2600 USB controller).
This game may just be a simple run 'n jump with very little to it but man is this game full of fun and charm. I found myself instantly addicted due to not only finding the gameplay to be fun but I was also addicted to trying to get further in to see if I can beat my old scores. No level is ever the same as each time you boot-up the game you'll get a new level as the levels are generated at random. The random level generation will also make the difficulty very unpredictable and it can lead to some very hectic sessions. This game also makes for a great game to play for when you just want to boot-up a quick and simple game, if you don't have much time to play a game as you can easily score some good game time if you have only have so little time. You can also find yourself having long sessions of this game but just be careful of doing so as I did have one long session to where my eyeballs started to feel funny.
There's also some other things that make the game interesting other than randomly generated obstacles, you'll have to watch out for the speed your character is going as well. Your character will speed up when he gets further into the game and this will force you to keep on your toes. There is a way to slow down your character and that's by running into boxes and chairs that are lying around the game but if you are confident enough in your skills, you'll want to go faster and when you do go faster you can do some crazy things and that adds to the excitement of playing this game.
As I said in the opening paragraph, this version of the game has added some new things to spice up this classic game. First of the new things is that this version has several new game modes. First of these new modes is called Purity, this mode has you running around the level with no obstacles in your way. Purity mode is harder than it looks as you gain speed at a crazy rate and there's nothing to slow you down and so you'll have to be extra careful with the timing of your jumps. Fractured is a mode that replaces all of the other obstacles in favor of having more collapsible buildings that will collapse when you put a single foot on them. The Box Tripper mode just adds more boxes to trip on and that will make your guy run very slowly to where the game drags on for too long.
Panic mode has your guy gaining momentum and speed twice as fast as he normally would in the main mode and this mode actually feels like a hard mode for the game. Lead of Faith mode also feels like a hard mode for the game as in this mode you will be running around normally but all of the buildings will be invisible and I found this mode to be really interesting to play. Invasion mode is just another mode that gets rid of all obstacles except for the crazy stuff that falls from the sky. Defenestration mode has you mainly running inside of buildings instead of running atop of them and so you'll have to focus on making smaller jumps instead of giant leaps. Lastly we have a game mode called Bombardment, this mode has you running while trying to dodge missiles that randomly drop from the sky and it sounds more interesting than what it actually is.
The new game modes did have some enjoyment value to them but not enough to keep you playing as I found myself to be quite bored of them after a very short time. Most of the new game modes aren't even that clever and a good chunk of them are just that of replacing all of the obstacles with the exception of one and it was a bit lazy. I did think that it was a good idea to try to expand on the game by adding new modes, sadly it was an idea that sounded better on paper and thus you should stick to playing the original mode instead.
The second thing that's new to this game is the option to play with another player via local multiplayer mode. Multiplayer works just like single player but there's a second player on the field and that will force you to play the game differently for a few reasons. First reason is that the game will teach you and the second player how to synchronize with each other instead of battling each other, you are working as a team and both of your scores will combine and seeing as you are playing two players, your score will go up twice as fast... Until one of the players die and then the score will be going up much slowly.
The second thing that will make you play differently is that it'll force you to try and not get too distracted by the other player and if you lose focus for even a second in this game... You will slip up and die. The controls for multiplayer can be played in a few ways, you can play with a keyboard and mouse combo where both players use the mouse or keyboard at the same time. You don't even need two players to play multiplayer as you can just use the mouse's left click and right click to control both characters at once. Playing as both characters by yourself is very fun and adds an interesting new way to improve your skills at this game. Multiplayer mode is available for all modes including original and all of the new modes and I do recommend giving it a go, especially with a date.
The third (and final) new feature added to this game is with the graphics department as this game has a 3D graphics option included. This 3D graphics option will just add more depth into the game, way more depth at that as it makes the buildings look like more like real buildings. I wasn't too fond of the 3D graphic option in this game as it took away some of the charm and mystique from the look of the game. The 3D graphics will also trip you out a little and will yet force you to learn how to play the game differently yet again as the depth of the 3D graphics will make it harder for you to know when to jump. Just like the bonus modes, it was an idea that sounded a lot better on paper but I do give credit for the developers to try to do something new with this game.
While we're on the topic of graphics, this game has a very nice looking pixelated yet very crisp black and white retro look to it to where it looks like a hybrid of both a classic sci-fi flick and a modern day action movie. The sci-fi look comes from the black and white shading and with all of the crazy invasions that are all going on in the background. The modern action look is from how the game takes place on the rooftops with the guy running on top of them. Both styles do combine well and give this game a very intense atmosphere and you will feel a rush from just looking at the graphics alone.
The soundtrack in this game has a sound that matches the look of the game as it has an intense action sci-fi vibe to it and it goes with the game very well. While it is a decent soundtrack, I was too deep into playing the game to ever notice that it was playing in the background most of the time. The sound effects in this game were very simple but yet very brilliant as they went with the game very well and I found them to be even more memorable than what they were intended to be.
Overall, it is very nice to see this game get an HD re-release and try something new to try to make this game feel fresh but sadly most of the new ideas didn't work as well as what they should be. The original mode is still great to play even to this day and is worth getting this game for the original mode all on its own. The original mode has also aged very well and I was worried that this game wouldn't be so damn fun all these years later but alas it is indeed still very fun. I do recommend that you go out and give this game a go as it is a great one.
Game: Canabalt HD
System: PC (Reviewing Steam Version)
Developer: Finji, Kttehface Software
Genre: Arcade, Action
Price: $2.99 (Steam)