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For: PSP

Still running

Product: Canabalt | Publisher: Beatshapers | Format: PSP | Genre: Endless running | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
Canabalt PSP, thumbnail 1
Understandably, for a game created in five days, Canabalt's premise is simple. Playing as an unnamed protagonist, you have to leap over and between tall buildings in a destroyed world, all using just one button.

A dark, pixellated cityscape is your playground. Smoke pours from tower blocks in the background, hulking alien monstrosities skulking amongst them. As befitting a title in which death is the only endpoint, the colour range is bleak, never straying past dark greys and muted whites.

The score is just as foreboding and oppressive. Looming bass strings underpin the pulp science-fiction beeps of an alien technology, occasionally raising the tempo with FX drums and keys, all marked by the haunting sounds of unseen high technology space craft.

Accompanying the excellent soundtrack is the steady beat of your smart shoes against concrete and steel, the piercing shatter of breaking glass, and the roar of engines when a ship comes into view on the horizon.

Push the button

The benefit of having a button at your disposal - in contrast with the touch-based iOS version - is clear for this PSP edition: precision is much greater right off the bat. Which is fortunate, as the game becomes marathon-like in its demands for your attention, with just one mistake finishing your run.

With no control over your movement aside from jumping, judging distances and reacting to dangers is key to your survival.

Pelting across rooftops without under- or over-estimating the gaps between them is the core principle. Canabalt punishes complacency, randomly creating shorter platforms to punish anyone who thinks he can continually jump at whatever height he likes.

Atop these buildings lie crates and other small obstacles that will trip you up and slow you down. This can be useful should you need to decrease your pace, as running at full tilt gives you far less time to react to danger. However, you'll need to be steaming along should a building start to crumble beneath your feet.

Smashing through windows of adjacent skyscrapers takes finesse, as does avoiding plummeting objects.

Your own enemy

With the change of platform does come a few drawbacks. The first is that you're less likely to play Canabalt in the same way as you would on iPhone: it's not as quick to launch and it's not an app you have running on a device that's always on.

The second is that score-sharing functionality is gone completely. There are no custom leaderboards to climb and no social network integration, making each run a competition with yourself rather than with friends.

This build of the game does contain everything from the current version of Canabalt on the App Store, though. All three music tracks are here, as is the extra giant ship hazard.

Canabalt for PSP deserves a place on your memory stick. It has a hidden depth that the hardcore will appreciate immensely, and it's built in such a way that more casual gamers can dip into it quickly between games of more substance.
Reviewer photo
Peter Willington | 19 March 2012
The move to PSP is a slightly awkward one, but it's not enough to change the fact that Canabalt is still a very addictive endless-runner with moody design and a great soundtrack
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