Canabalt is one of the oldest games on my phone, largely unchanged since 2009. But a surprising series of recent updates has introduced some new content, culminating in version 2.0 this week. These updates breath new life into a stale game, but also add more complexity to a game famous for its rigorous simplicity.
After sitting idle for two and a half years, Canabalt version 1.8 finally added support for the widescreen iPhone 5 and came with three new characters, a new music track, and a new icon. In addition to the familiar tailored businessman, you can now play as a woman in a suit or a man or woman in a track suit. The woman looks a bit like Faith from Mirror's Edge, which I'm hoping was intentional. I'm glad to see some diversity in the Canabalt crew, but I'm not sure what people in track suits would be doing up in a skyscraper at night. Maybe it's a high-rise gym?
The new music combines themes by Danny Baranowsky with lyrics from rapper Mega Ran. The track, called Mega Ranabalt, flows nicely with the game, but it took me a few minutes to get used to the more vocal soundtrack.
This week version 2.0 completes the revisions by adding eight new gameplay modes and 2-player mode. Now you can polish your roof jumping skills by focusing on each of the games many obstacles. For example, the Box Tripper level places many more boxes in your path than normal. Similarly, Bombardment saturates the level with mid-roof explosives. These new options are challenging but provide varied gameplay for people who have long since mastered the classic Canabalt style. 2-player mode allows friends to race each other across the rooftops of any level. One player is controlled with the right half of the screen, the other with the left. I'm not sure how well this will work on an iPhone, but it's fun on an iPad.
Canabalt more or less founded the extremely popular "endless runner" category on the App Store, and it has continued to be successful on other platforms like Android and Blackberry. It's worth noting that these other platforms received similar updates already, so these features are only new on the iOS version. Some people might be disappointed that the famously simple Canabalt gameplay has been altered, but fear not. The same game that's been around for half a decade is still right there in the middle, and you're free to ignore all the new options. And for those who were tired of the same old game, I'm glad there's new content to draw them back in.
I was inspired by the latest updates to create the character sprites and logo in LDD. Pixel art is quite fun and easy to recreate in LEGO, and this might lead to a bigger project somewhere down the line.