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Canabalt (PS Minis) review

Canabalt Minis Screenshot - 1102572

The world around you is crumbling. Buildings are falling, and a massive, unknown extraterrestrial threat is invading the very city you live in. You're inside your office on one of the highest floors within the building you work at. What do you do? You run like hell, that's what!

We've already seen numerous iterations of Canabalt in the past. The game has made its rounds on the web, iOS, and Android platforms. This is easily one of the best runner games available, and that's due in large part to its competitive leaderboard integration, which combines nicely with its slick and addictive gameplay to create an experience that makes you want to keep running for your very life.

Canabalt is now available on PS Minis, which means you can enjoy it on your PlayStation 3, Vita, or PSP. Being able to use actual face buttons to jump is great, but there are a few shortcomings. The first is the lack of a leaderboard. You can't upload your longest run, and you can't see what other PlayStation fans have accomplished in the game. Instead, the game simply autosaves your best session. This is Canabalt in the barest sense, which is to say that it's still really good, but not as gripping as its browser and mobile counterparts.

Still, even despite the lack of a leaderboard, Canabalt for PS Minis is still a fun and exhilarating adventure across the rooftops of a crumbling city. This is the same game we've seen before. Your character — dressed in his finest business attire — runs automatically, and he has to jump across gaps onto other buildings, billboards, and scaffoldings. Canabalt is a one button game, but every press is pressure sensitive, so you really have to time your jumps properly and tap the jump button with just the right amount of force. I can't express the utter disappointment I felt whenever I stupidly tapped a button too hard and witnessed my character bonk his head on an obstruction, only to plummet to his death.

Canabalt is a lovely game to look at. The graphics feature a toned down minimalist art style that consists of several different shades of gray and blue. The whole thing has a nice pixelated look to it that any fan of retro games is sure to enjoy. Additionally, while the soundtrack may not be vast, the few songs that you can choose from prior to any of your runs are all created by Danny Baranowsky of Super Meat Boy fame.

While the PS Minis version of Canabalt may suffer from a lack of leaderboard integration, I found that it's quite enjoyable when played with another person. I sunk a bunch of time into the game while playing with a buddy — much more than I thought I would, actually. We took turns attempting to one-up each other, shooting for the highest score every time (we called it quits after I hit 17,000+). While I'm well aware that this is probably an odd way to play Canabalt, I found it to be an effective way to enjoy the game more. It added to that competitive vibe that's missing due to the lack of leaderboards, and I can only imagine how raucous things could get with a group of friends watching and taking turns playing.

Basically, I created my own competitive element for this version of Canabalt, and I thought the game was much more enjoyable that way as opposed to playing by myself. The "one more try" element really pushes the addictive nature of the game, and if you've got some buddies around, Canabalt is a great pass-the-controller affair. If not, it's still a neat little time waster that you can spend small chunks of time playing. It also costs, $3, which is pretty damn affordable and well worth it. So is this the definitive version of Canabalt? Probably not. Is it still one hell of a good time? Definitely.

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