Tag Archives: Canabalt

Pig Rush Review: Save Ya Bacon!

According to the first random “pig facts” website I clicked on, pigs can run a mile within 7 minutes, which is precisely one mile further than I can manage in a similar time frame. Luckily for ReignDesign, their new game Pig Rush doesn’t use distance to indicate the player’s score, because if it did, all credibility would be instantly lost. As it stands, there’s no easy way to determine exactly how many miles the porky little swine has traversed once the seven minute alarm sounds (you can stop taking me seriously now, I’m not sure seven minutes is even possible) and so taking cheap shots at the downright flamboyant disregard for realism in Pig Rush would do little more than make me look totally mad.

Thankfully, the surreal landscape, floating fire helmets, double jump ability and occasional tendency to grow five times his normal size in an instant only go to emphasise the honest-to-God, awkward realities of a pig’s everyday life. You’d almost believe you were watching a documentary.

That’s enough filler. If it’s not obvious already, most of what I’ve just said is utter swill. The reasoning behind the unconventional (and somewhat pointless) introduction is thus: it’s a simple game and there’s really not much to say. This is by no means a bad thing, some of the App Store’s most highly regarded games are as plain as the face of the moon, but nevertheless I thought you guys might appreciate actually having something to read. Now for the serious stuff.

Pig Rush is a distance game similar to the likes of Doodle Jump and Canabalt. The main character is a pig with a death wish and no brakes, and it’s your job to ensure his journey is a safe one. The landscape consists of a series of hovering platforms, and the controls boil down to the ever-accessible “tap to jump” routine. One of the main differences here being the way you can manipulate the height of your jump depending on how far up the screen you tap. Small gaps require small jumps and large gaps require… you got it, large jumps. Fall short or overshoot and you’ll plummet into infinity and your journey is at an end. Along the way you’ll inevitably meet a few various objects; there are bonfires which (fairly obviously), cut your life short, fire helmets which grant you temporary immunity to bonfires, and uh, “grow big icons” which make you… grow big.


Score markers: A nice touch is the addition of other players scores within the game. These are represented by bees placed at each players respective distance and their name alongside the bee icon. They’re generally placed just out of reach and require a double jump to collect, providing a delicate balance of risk and reward not seen often enough in this type of game. Collecting multiple bees in one jump boosts your score combo and more often than not in my case, ends the game right there and then.

Music: I’m not usually bothered about the music within a game. Provided I’m not being whined at by a collection of heartbroken misfits all with the same hairstyle, I can pretty much put up with anything that’s thrown at me. It’s something I just tend to ignore, which makes it even bigger a compliment when I say that the music in Pig Rush is awesome. Hand on heart, it had me dancing in my seat. Yes, it loops indefinitely, but as far as I can tell it’s fairly seamless, and to be quite frank, if it didn’t loop I’d miss it. There are only two tunes in Pig Rush, both of which are highly catchy and worth the price of the game alone.

Easter Eggs: Alright, so it’s not plural, there’s only one egg (only one I’m aware of anyway). Shaking your device at the main menu triggers a gentle snowfall and the sound of sleigh bells can be heard in the distance. From this point on you’re no longer playing Pig Rush, you’ve ascended into the magical realm of Reindeer Rush. It’s exactly the same only with a christmas theme, but nevertheless I love it. Not least because the new background music is the most rockin’ rendition of Jingle Bells I’ve ever heard, but also because the game is already such a pleasure to look at that new graphics are always greeted with open arms.


Simplicity: Not necessarily a negative point, but I feel it belongs here regardless, because it’s definitely something that should be worked on in future updates. One look at a certain distance game competitor will tell you that new features keep the fans playing (and hopefully keep sales high), and I sincerely hope that ReignDesign choose to follow the same path, because given a few more variations in gameplay such as obstacles, environments and items, Pig Rush could very well turn into my distance game of choice.

I’m bad at it: …aaand this isn’t a negative point at all. The difficulty is adequate, I just suck, and I’m struggling to find things I dislike about Pig Rush. Many apologies.

The description for Pig Rush seems to direct it towards younger players. Naturally, the eye-catching graphics and happy-go-lucky melodies will appeal to children, but that’s not to say the game can’t be enjoyed by players of any age. Being endless, there’s no limit to how far you can push your abilities, so even if you think you’re a distance pro there’s still just as much entertainment to be found here as there is in similar games. I fully recommend Pig Rush to fans of the genre and look forward to seeing how the game will evolve in future. This one’s a keeper.

Pig Rush is developed by ReignDesign, and I played through version 1.2 on my iPod Touch 2G. The current price of the game is $0.99.

Our 2009 Games of the Year Revealed: Gaming Overload!

Wow.  What a year it’s been for the app store.  This was the first full calendar year that the store has been open for business, and we’ve been treated to a countless amount of games.  Now, all of us have attempted to give a summary of some of our favourite games from the year.  We’re about to list a lot of great games, so sit back and see if you’ve missed any gems from last year or disagree with any of our choices.

Matt: Overall, 2009 was a great year for iPhone gaming. My personal favorite release of the year was the re-imagined classic Space Invaders Infinity Gene, easily the iPhone’s best shoot’em-up. The stages, visual presentation, sound and gameplay combined to make this a game I found impossible to put down. The inclusion of music stages, generated from songs in your music library, make this a game with an infinite amount of new challenges, and the recent update made things even better. Space Invaders Infinity Gene is the best example I can think of of a major game publisher simultaneously revitalizing a classic franchise while doing right on the iPhone platform. Kudos to Taito for a job well done.

For me, the year held a number of other highlights. Meteor Blitz is the best dual-stick shooter I’ve ever played, with sumptuous visuals and perfect controls. Flatspace delivered the most open-ended space role-playing experience on the platform; how you outfit your ship plays a huge role in how you play the game, and you’re welcome to play in any way you like, as law-enforcement or pirate, trader or bounty-hunter, good guy or bad guy. Chronicles of Inotia: Wanderer of Luone and Dungeon Hunter offered up the platform’s best fantasy RPGs, while Rogue Planet delivered an SRPG to rival those on major consoles. Robocalypse, ported to the iPhone from the Nintendo DS, was the year’s best RTS, and IUGO’s Star Hogs was an artillery game not to be missed. GeoDefense and GeoDefense Swarm were the year’s best tower defense games. Chillingo‘s Defender Chronicles effectively tipped the tower defense genre on its side, imbuing it with RPG qualities along the way and cementing it as one of the deepest and most rewarding alternative takes on tower defense yet seen. In addition, the developer has set a new paradigm for the support of existing properties with constant and hearty updates in content. Knights Onrush is the App Store’s best castle-defense game, even beating out Gameloft‘s take on the genre. But it’s Gameloft’s NOVA that takes the crown for the year’s best FPS, highly polished with a robust single player campaign and an excellent multiplayer mode. My favorite retro fixes were the addictive Hook Champ and the lite roguelike The Isle of 8-bit Treasures. For casual games, KarmaStar was a favorite for cramming incredible depth into bite-sized portions, and Canabalt for incredible atmosphere and short, but addictive gameplay sessions. My list is long, but the last games I absolutely must mention are Rolando 2 and I Dig It 2, incredible sequels to their equally incredible predecessors. Damn, what a year!

Daniel: My game of the year would have to go to NOVA from Gameloft. Call me a first-person shooter junkie, but Gameloft did an amazing job with both the campaign and online multiplayer. There have been tons of other games that have come quite close to taking home the award though, from ngmoco’s Rolando 2 to Illusion Labs’ Sway. Com2uS also came out of the box after releasing Homerun Battle 3D along with Inotia  2: Wanderer of Luone, both of which were definite must have titles for me. Chillingo‘s Ravensword was yet another title that I was overly impressed with, along with their fun Speed Forge Extreme.

The list goes on and on, including Firemint‘s Real Racing and Flight Control, Illusion Labs’ Labyrinth 2 and Touchgrind, Gameloft’s Modern Combat: Sandstorm and Gangstar, Godzilab’s iBlast Moki, and much, much more. 2009 was a year quite improved from the initial release of firmware 2.0, and I’ll be surprised if developers keep up the same pace. I’m sure there are games that were forgotten, but either way, let’s say hello to 2010.

Nick: Going back a full year and trying to figure out the best games launched on the app store is definitely a tough task.  Choosing a single game of the year though is easy.  The game I have in mind had an impressive graphical upgrade from its predecessor, and the gameplay’s tweaked difficulty and rolling variations kept me fully interested throughout.  Yes, the game I’m thinking of is Ngmoco and Hand Circus’ Rolando 2.  After replaying levels just to grab all the items I missed on the first time through, I realized the game was something special because replaying is something I rarely do.  I initially opened this site to try and cover games that push forward the idea that the iPhone is a legimitate gaming platform, and Rolando 2 fits the bill perfectly. In trying to list other favourites from the year, I’m sure I’m going to forget many great games.  Here’s a quick attempt at other standout titles I really enjoyed: Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor, Sway, Let’s Golf, Peggle, geoDefense, 2XL ATV Offroad, and Hook Champ.

Chris: 2009 was certainly a banner year for the iPhone and its gamers. In 2008 we witnessed the birth of the app store. In 2009 we witnessed it grow into something akin to a child: both awkward and wonderful; sometimes gawky, sometimes menacing, but always full of promise. This year we’ve seen everything from the great Halo clone N.O.V.A. to truly unique puzzlers like Labyrinth 2 and Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor. But for every geoDefense we also had an onslaught of forgettable tower defense games that simply were a recycled waste of time. The still incomplete Minigore gave us a good laugh while Samurai: Way of the Warrior showed us that 3-D wasn’t always needed. At the beginning of the year, who would’ve thought a simple running game like Backbreaker Football could bring so much more life to football than the iconic Madden? That’s what makes the iPhone as a gaming device so special: it surprises us. This little machine somehow manages to bring a decoupage of gaming experiences that no other device seems to match. Gamers everywhere have to agree there’s nothing quite like Zen Bound for the console. As for the best of 2009, that’s tough. The Wing Commander-esque Galaxy on Fire comes close, but ultimately I’m a sucker for the well-rendered RPG; Ravensword: The Fallen King is certainly not without its flaws, but it is the first iPhone game I found truly amazing… utterly escapist. What can we anticipate in 2010 now that the iPhone’s proverbial childhood is over? The fast track into adulthood. With Apple’s newfound success in the gaming world comes a new set responsibilities… and new competition. Also, we all have bigger expectations for this little device than we did a year ago. Things could get really interesting. So, here’s to a new and even better year of gaming in 2010. Good luck, Apple, and keep on gaming!

Jeff: What if iTunes didn’t exist? What if there wasn’t an App Store? What if the technological marvel known as the iDevice was never conceived? Each and every one of us would have missed out on something amazing and revolutionary.  It’s a worldwide store where you can buy all of the newest music of any nationality from anywhere in the world, and purchase multiple games that fit in your pocket starting as low as 99 cents and (almost) not going anywhere above 10 dollars. This universal store has brought many people happiness, and the offerings that you can choose from are astounding. Music will always be changing, and so will the future of gaming. However, I’ve never thought that gaming could change so suddenly or quickly. Five months ago, I would never have thought of the iPhone or iPod Touch as something I would play games on, much less play games on for hours on end. This year, and more specifically, these past few months, have changed the iPhone and iPod Touch into my main gaming platform. And why? Because iDevice games are the only ones that get updated, changed, and churned out so quickly, yet still maintaining the polish and quality we expect from all games.

Now that the iPhone and iPod Touch have been established as possible gaming devices, what are the best games for this “platform?” Or, what is the number one game that all iDevice owners should have? It’s a hard choice, but I have to go with N.O.V.A.. This game has the best graphics, best controls, and debatably due to multiplayer, the best replay value of any game on the App Store. It has all of Gameloft’s quality and polish, and it isn’t a game you just finish and forget; it’s an experience that you remember and keep coming back to, time and time again. On the other hand, there are many great offerings for the iDevice, including Jet Car Stunts, Asphalt 5, Need for Speed, FIFA, Inotia 2: A Wanderer of Luone and many more titles that deserve mentioning. Of course, if I mentioned all of them, the list would be too long since there are just so many different options. All in all, 2009 has been an awesome year both for myself personally and the App Store, and I can’t wait to see what new events and things are in store for me this year. Onwards, and let’s all have a great 2010!

Ryan: The app store has come a very long way in such a short time. I remember when I was impressed by the simplest of games on a mobile device like an iPod. The app store has become a whole new market now with ‘real’ games becoming more polished and fun. One signing example of this is Nova. Nova is a first-person shooter developed by Gameloft that somewhat resembles Halo (ring any bells?) Nova is the most complete, comprehensive game on the app store to date. Not only does it have an engaging single player mode, but it comes with surprisingly fun online multiplayer mode as well. It is no surprise to me that Gameloft is the company behind Nova. After all, they have proven to be strong players in the app store market and have developed a number of hits. Each game they release seems to push the envelope (and my expectations) just a little further. I now expect an iPod/iPhone game to deliver much more than I did even a few months ago. I am excited to see what the app store holds for 2010. I think Nova will be hard to top, but based on what I have seen so far, it is complely plausible.

And that wraps up the gaming year of 2009.  I’m sure 2010 will be bringing us even more impressive games from all the developers on the app store who will continue to push the limits of the platform.  We’ll see you the same time next year for another wrap up!

Canabalt Review: Minimalism as Perfection

Canabalt rises from humble origins. It began as a five-day experimental gameplay project, was unleashed upon the web as a free Flash game, and quickly took the Internet by storm. Now, you can keep it in your pocket.

The premise is simple. Giant robots are destroying the city, and you must run for your life. It just so happens that the attack catches you on a high floor in an office building. With the building literally coming down around you, what could you possibly do but take your escape to the city rooftops? Hurdling a couple of chairs and crashing through the nearest window, your flight begins. And it never, ever ends. At least, not until you do.

Canabalt is an endurance game. Your protagonist dashes pell-mell over the city rooftops as the giant robots wreak havoc and destruction in the background. There’s no stopping him, no controlling him, no holding him back. He runs! And when you touch the screen, he jumps. The longer you touch the screen, the higher and longer he jumps. Jump to avoid obstacles and to clear gaps between buildings, your goal to keep him running for as long as possible before meeting his inevitable end.


Style: Canabalt is exquisitely minimalistic in presentation. The game is comprised entirely of old-school, pixel graphics steeped in shades of gray. While the game’s breakneck pace is a part of its thrill, you almost want it all to stand still, just so that you can get a better look. The animations are beautifully rendered; such detail in movement is rarely seen in games of this sort, and it hearkens back in many ways to the original 1989 Prince of Persia. Whether the protagonist’s running and jumping animations, the shattering of glass, the flight of pigeons, the crumbling of buildings, the passing of warships, the crashing of bombs or the stomping of giant, bipedal robots, Canabalt’s animations are nothing short of gorgeous. The game’s lack of color leaves nothing to be desired. Canabalt’s grey world and noir asthetic fits the setting and situation perfectly.

Sound: By turns ambient electronica, then throbbing techno, Canabalt’s music is wonderfully compelling. A single track written literally overnight during the game’s short development period, it nevertheless perfectly underscores your desperate getaway. At times, I’ve found myself coming back to Canabalt just to hear it again.  Canabalt is a game you will not want to play in silent mode, the music is so deeply a part of it. Rather it’s a game you will want to play with headphones, and head-splitting volume.

The game’s sound effects aren’t too shabby either. The protagonist’s pounding feed over the rooftops, the roar of passing ships, the rumble of collapsing buildings and the tinkle of broken glass all sound great, and add to the feeling of desperation.

Pacing: Everything about Canabalt is fast. Your protagonist quickly accelerates to hazardous speeds, slowing only when he stumbles on one the many obstacles strewn in your escape path. From the moment you smash through that first window, the game is relentless. A single stumble can often spell your demise, as you will no longer have the momentum necessary to clear the next jump. You can’t always jump high and far. It’s often the smallest jump that will allow you to clear the box, hit the short span of rooftop on the other side and make the next leap to the building beyond; a longer leap would send you sailing into the abyss. Other times, too high a jump will cause you to overshoot a window, planting you against the build exterior. Moving forward at such speed, decisions must be instantaneous, made by reflex. A moment’s hesitation is death.

But it’s not just the running that’s fast. Beyond the initial load, the game carries on briskly. Play sessions are short, making it ideal for standing in line or killing time. When you die, you are presented a Game Over screen showing the distance covered. A single tap restarts, beginning a new run at once. And you always want to play just … one … more … time. Because you know you can always do better than the last time.


No Achievements: It would be great to see Open Feint or some other type of social achievement tracking implemented in Canabalt. Achievements could, of course, be based on distance, but could also include goals for boxes leapt, windows broken, pigeons scattered, etc. It might even be fun to count deaths, categorized by cause — death by falling, bombs, smashing into a wall, etc. The game does allow you to Tweet your scores, so some type of social aspect was apparently considered. It’s just lacking.

No Global Leaderboards: Local High Scores are recorded, but it would be great to see how you stack up against other players.

No ‘Back’ Button: There’s not much to the game menu-wise. My only complaint is that there’s no way to escape back to the main menu from the game. I’d love to see a button on the game over screen that allows you to get back to the menu to check high-scores.

The iPhone is home to many ‘one-touch’ games, and Canabalt is hands-down the best of them. It offers presentation values through the roof, and one of the iPhone’s most pulse-pounding thrill rides. It’s easy to pick up, hard to put down and perfect for quick sessions. Some gamers may find the game repetitive, or a one-trick-pony, and there is certainly justification for thinking so. But as a bottom-line, Canabalt does right whatever it does, and doesn’t try to spread itself too thin. The game is focused and fun.

At $2.99, it might be a hard buy for some. There are definitely games out there offering a lot more content at that price. But as a longtime fan of the free Flash version, I didn’t hesitate to throw down for this one. I thought Canabalt was brilliant the first time I played it, I still think it’s brilliant on the iPhone, and I think that’s worth my financial support. I would encourage you to try the original (free) Flash version of Canabal, or the free Flash-based mock-iPhone version and make that decision for yourself.


Canabalt was developed by Semi Secret, and I played through version 1.0 on an iPhone 3G. The price is $2.99.