Game Review: Canabalt (PSP Mini)

Unusually for a game like this, we were treated to several clones released as part of the PSP Mini range first before the original run and jump game Canabalt was finally licenced for conversion to the PSP. Being honest, it was a strange choice for a commercial release as the original web-based game was still available to play online freely. Undeterred, I decided to take a closer look…

The story sees our anonymous hero running… running for his very survival. The Earth is under attack from an unknown (and unseen) alien invasion force and your city is under attack. Buildings all around you are being destroyed and all you can do to try to stay alive is to keep running… from building to building, rooftop to rooftop, as fast as you can. And that’s about it really. The game is pretty simple – the screen scrolls continually throughout, increasing speed steadily and all you have to do is jump to avoid obstacles that are in your way and jump from building to building. You don’t have direct control over your character other than to jump with a single press of a button.

If you hit any objects, they will briefly slow you down (although this can sometimes give you a much-needed respite from the frantic pace) and some buildings will crumble beneath you so you need to jump off them quicker than others, but otherwise, that’s all there is to it. You’ve got one life and that’s it so you just run as far as you can until you mis-time a jump or end up crashing into the side of an unsuspecting building.

Nothing really has changed from it’s browser-based origins. The monochrome graphics remain and while nicely animated they are certainly not as polished or as detailed as they could be. There are other similar games in the Mini range that are more appealing visually and the game just looks bland. I do appreciate that the developers no doubt wanted to retain the look of the original, but if gamers are being expected to pay for what is basically a free game, some improvements need to be made. The only real difference is the fact that you can choose between three difference pieces of in-game music, although none are particularly inspiring or add to the tension that the pace of the game should instill in the player.

As for the game itself, well I am afraid to say that it quickly becomes tiresome and repetitive. While it may be a quick, fun diversion as a web-based game it certainly isn’t a game worth paying for. There isn’t enough depth or variety in the gameplay to keep you playing for more than a couple of minutes at a time and you’ll quickly tire of the over-simplified control system. Even though this is one of the lower-priced Minis available from the PSN Store, it’s still not worth the asking price.

Simon Plumbe

At A Glance

  • Title: Canabalt
  • Publisher: Beatshapers
  • System: PSP Mini
  • Format: PSN Download
  • Cross Buy: No
  • Online Multiplayer: No
  • Local Multiplayer: No
  • Memory Card Space Needed: 11Mb


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