Canabalt

Watch the video first, context to follow…

Canabalt is, would you believe, an iPhone game. One that, a few weeks ago now, my good friend Utku introduced me too.

I remember it quite clearly, he turned to me and muttered the now immortal words:
“This, is the new Flight Control.”

The premise is simple: your character runs and, when a gap or an object is coming towards you, you tap the screen to jump.

Oh so simple, yet oh so addictive.

If you have an iPhone, get this game. If you don’t like it, find me. I’ll play it for you.

Joking aside, Utku, after he told me about said game, went on to write a rather awesome blog post about how much he enjoys playing it. Said post is indeed, a great read.

However, it is in the comments that things get really interesting (and please, go read the post before you carry on).

And I quote:

I think the reason I prefer Canabalt over the bigger budget games is not the retro feel (although that plays a part), but rather the lack of story that you mention above.

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Most big budget games have large story arcs to take you from one piece of game play to the next and on the whole I find them disappointing. Even when the voice talent is top notch, the dialogue tends to be turgid. As the graphic engines moved forward I found myself becoming that horror of horrors – a casual gamer.

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One slight disagreement. I think in Canabalt there is more than a hint at the reason why you’re running. In the background loom the silhouettes of what appear to be tripod like machines laying waste to your city. Man-made? Alien? No idea.

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I love that you probably know as much about what’s going on as your hero. Things are falling apart – run like hell. We don’t find out he’s some super soldier or why exactly he’s so adapt at leaping or what he risks to lose if he doesn’t escape. I love that. Allows you to project what you like on the little guy rather than try and ignore the rubbish some hack has written for you.

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But with a little branding in place this could be easily ported as a BOND or BOURNE tie in. They won’t do that though. They’ll spend a lot of money on an iPhone app that concentrates on selling the franchise and results in muddy game play. Like most of the movie-tie-in apps available so far.

Those middle three paragraphs are what do it for me.

With just a few short sentences you get such an insight into a) the idealism behind the game in question and b) the machinations that exist between the ears of Mike Atherton…  And that, my friends, is what makes him such a good writer.

From a single, and yet dare I say it, casual gamer-aimed, 2D platformer, @sizemore (as he is more commonly known) has already established in your mind some ideas as to why this man is running for his life…

And yet, at the same time..

You really have no clue at all.

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