Canabalt Review

Unless you don’t have a smartphone or a computer where you could play the free and clearly superior version of Canabalt, the PlayStation Minis version should be your last option.

Endless runners are the kind of games that you can expect on certain platforms such as iOS, Android, web browsers and PlayStation Minis. The genre offers a simple concept that’s remarkably simple to understand (there’s usually a button to jump and that’s it.) Canabalt has enjoyed some level of success on other platforms and now that the game’s available as a PlayStation Mini, the question is: has the experience translated well to the PlayStation family? Unfortunately, the answer is a resounding no.

Canabalt 01

Run like hell.

So what should you know about Canabalt before playing? This is an endless runner, so not much. In Canabalt, you assume the role of a tuxedo-wearing man who’s constantly running in a post-apocalyptic world and he needs to avoid obstacles to pick up momentum and make the best run possible. The objective is to beat your previous high score, but you can always play with friends to see who can have a most successful run. When I say compete with friends, I mean the old-fashioned way which involves playing, remembering your score, lending the PSP or DualShock 3 to a friend and then compare amount of points. In other words, this version of the game doesn’t have multiplayer capabilities of any kind.

So you start the game, hit X and you’re immediately playing, what do you do? Well, the protagonist is always running and the speed of the game increases as you progress, which means that it becomes more difficult the more time you play. The only thing you can do is jump from rooftop to rooftop to avoid falling to your demise and jump over obstacles like missiles that fall from the sky. Alternatively, you can run into wooden boxes or chairs that instead of hurting you, temporarily decrease your speed which you can definitely use to your advantage. Despite the simplistic premise, different strategies come into play.

The world of Canabalt brims with personality. The white and grey visuals give the game a neo-noir style that feels fitting. I mentioned that the game’s set in a post-apocalyptic world and that’s what I assume since you can see tall bipedal robots destroying the city which would also explain why some of the buildings fall as soon as you step on them. There are other nice details such as when white doves fly away as you approach them, your characters stumbles when he jumps or he clumsily shatters windows and so on. On top of that, the song that plays in the background might repeat over and over, but it’s a great tune nonetheless.

Canabalt 02

Fly little creatures! Fly!

Up until this point, everything about this port make it sound good enough, but there’s something that makes it hard to recommend and that’s the choppy framerate that ruins the experience. This happens randomly, usually when you least expect it and usually ends with you dead which makes the game infuriating and what’s worse unfair. Additionally, this is a straight port of the free browser version which means that there’s no additional features of any kind. You can play the game and see what’s your best score and that’s it. There are no extra features, no multiplayer, no additional music, characters or backgrounds. What you see in the screenshots included is what you get and the fact that there’s no extra content makes Canabalt hard to recommend, since, unlike the browser and mobile version, this version isn’t free.

In conclusion, annoying technical issues and lack of additional content make Canabalt for the PSP, PS3 and Vita one of the worst versions of the game. Unless you don’t have a smartphone or a computer where you could play the free and clearly superior version of this game, the PlayStation Minis version should be your last option.