A good time waster if you have a PSP to transfer it to, but as a PS3 game it's light on content.
Similar to the classic arcade games popularized in the early 80s, Canabalt is a fun, arcade-style game that can be played with a single finger. It has a simple premise that anyone can immediately understand: run, run for your life! As giant robots lay waste to the city in the distant background and space ships rocket overhead, all you can do is run from the destruction, jumping over obstacles and hopping gaps between crumbling buildings. This is a game scored not in points or lives, but how far you can make it before the inevitable happens and you fall to your doom.
Featuring a decidedly 8-bit presentation, the most impressive thing about the visuals are the layers of parallax scrolling in the background. But you will rarely have time to notice, as this game is all about getting into a zen-like state where you’re barely looking at anything but that next jump, eyes drying out from the lack of blinking. The music consists of one song that loops perfectly and never gets old, even after extended play sessions.
Similar to the recent smartphone game Jetpack Joyride, Canabalt features randomized levels that constantly scroll forward, gaining speed. You need quick reflexes to make the jumps just right and avoid tripping over obstacles, running into a window, or getting blown up by missile shells fired by the invading robots. Unfortunately, that randomness to the levels can result in some unlucky situations where you don't have a chance to make a jump. It won't matter much, as another game is just a button press away, and most games of Canabalt last less than 5 minutes.
Canabalt came out as a browser-based game in 2009, and since then it’s been ported to many platforms, including smartphones. Playing this game on the PS3 would seem like an odd fit, and it is. Even though the game looks great blown up to a large television screen, at the end of the day there’s just not much to Canabalt. Since it’s part of the PS Minis line, you won’t find now-expected features like trophies, replays, and leaderboards. Canabalt is the essence of what mobile games have become: a time waster for those moments when you’re waiting around for something else to do. As a game for the PS3 it’s a strange proposition, since most gamers have much more interesting ways of spending their time with the Sony console.
Transferring the game to your PSP is a different story, though. This game is a perfect fit for playing on the go, and if you happen to be carrying around your PSP for trips and the like, Canabalt is a great back-up game to have on hand if you don’t feel like playing the UMD in your system. Like those classic arcade games of yore, Canabalt is simple to pick up and play but has an addictive element to it that makes it all too easy to say “One more game, just one more game.” At the time of this review the game isn’t compatible with the PS Vita, but that should be rectified soon, as Sony is aware of the issue.
Canabalt is an enjoyable arcade game that’s great for the time it holds your attention. It's addicting and fun in small doses or extended sessions. But with a lack of options like leaderboards or being able to save replays, this one isn’t likely to stand the test of time. Enjoy it for what it is: a candy bar to tide you over before dinner.