Review: Cannons! -- Manically Rocketing your iThingy
Cannons makes no illusions that it is simply a pirate-themed adaptation of Rocket Mania for the iPhone and doesn't bring anything fresh to the household formula that we all know. Thankfully though, it's a terrific concept to begin with.
Discussion Thread: http://forums.toucharcade.com/showthread.php?t=23931
The dearth of the ludicrously popular PC titles from Popcap Games on the iPhone scene has seen several opportunistic developers carving out their own niche in the market, wholly on the backs of many of these unique concepts that have now become household names. Cannons does not shy away from the fact that it is essentially a Rocket Mania clone, one of the more iconic games that rocketed Popcap to fame.
The iPhone/iTouch is surprisingly well suited for Cannon's tile shuffling, fuse frenzied gameplay that we all know from Rocket Mania. In case you are still scratching your head, Cannons revolves around matching up overly long fuses on the left of the screen with cannons on the right, and allows you to construct the fuse yourself from amongst a maze of varying tiles to fire off as many cannons per fuse as possible.
It's a breeze to rotate tiles by touch and setup that perfect combo, and the game rewards you accordingly with some surprisingly funny remarks when you start tearing through those cannon combos (Holy Ship! being one of my favourites). The iPhone controls and fuse mechanics take very little getting used to even for the uninitiated, and it shouldn't take long to get particularly dexterous with the simple tap controls. In fact, the iPhone's touch controls feel far more suited to the Rocket Mania gameplay than traditional mouse clicking!
Cannons offers a variety of different game modes all centred around the fuse matching gameplay. Story mode offers a non-sensical and not particularly well scripted adventure to tie each level together, and eventually provides a mash up of the various other game modes to keep the levels from getting monotonous. Each level has requirements to meet which do escalate quite quickly in difficulty; by level six or seven you will be faced with the task of firing off 20 cannons in a seemingly short amount of time.
The developer hasn't indicated how many levels accompany the Story mode, but together with the Arcade, Classic and Strategy modes there is an endless amount of content here. Classic mode allows the basic gameplay sans the Story element, whilst Strategy mode removes the timer altogether. Instead, it restricts the number of matches available to you initially and sees you attempting to piece together the best combos possible, to earn additional matches and tally up the highest score you can in more of a thinking-man's mode. Arcade mode offers the only fresh gameplay from the tried and true Rocket Mania formula; combining a Tetris-style tile cascading mechanic with the staple Cannons gameplay. You are able to slide the tiles around once they have fallen to attempt to line up the best fuses possible to meet the cannon tally prior to the screen filling completely. Unfortunately, the sliding feature does seem somewhat finnicky and overly responsive, and more often than not tiles would move into places unintended.
All in all however, Cannons poses a title with high production values that is unashamedly a carbon copy of a game many have played to death on the PC. It has everything you'd expect of a premium title, complete with online leaderboards and multiple profiles per device. Its overall presentation, artwork and sound components are excellent, though the Story mode narrative is largely uninspired and the gameplay, despite the various modes on offer, can become repetitive.
If you are new to the Rocket Mania genre then by all means this is a highly recommended game with hours of gameplay to be had. If you are a veteran though, be warned that Cannons provides nothing new to freshen the experience and some may find such a tested formula to be stale after all these years.
The lack of many other worthy Rocket Mania type games on iTunes however does mean that Cannons has filled a void that has surprisingly to date gone largely untouched. For that reason alone this could number amongst your favourite iPhone applications.
(3 out of 5 stars)
NB: Rating compliant with iTunes Store rating system; no half stars are awarded.
Windburn's review system notes:
I have some very clear and concrete ideas on how reviews should operate.
Firstly, I do not want to put too much of an emphasis on a review's score, as I believe the content of my review should be enough for people to make their own minds up. Having said that, I understand that it makes no sense to disregard Apple's own rating system, so I'll abide by the 5 stars approach that Apple provides its customers to rate titles. That means I won't be giving half stars.
Secondly, I am a big fan of developers following up their initial releases, either with updates or with patches as deemed necessary. If you are a developer and you believe your recent updates and efforts warrant a second look at your title, please contact me on these forums and I will be more than happy to provide a revised perspective on your release.
I am not afraid of altering my review score if it truly deserves to be altered, as I see this as a respectful and appreciative nod to the necessary post-release efforts that the truly caring developers out there should be putting into their games if their titles are not fully realised from the outset.
Thirdly, I am Australian. Be warned, I'll be using the Queen's English!
Last edited by Windburn; 09-02-2009 at 06:17 PM.. Reason: Edited for accuracy