October 15, 2013 | In: Games by Markus Ulfberg
C64anabalt – Endless fun
C64anabalt is the official Commodore 64 port of the 2009 indie flash game Canabalt by Adam Atomic and Danny B. Originally released in 2011 C64anabalt was coded by Paulko64 while Encore did the SID adaptation of the original soundtrack.
When I first tried out Canabalt a couple of years ago I immediately got hooked on the simple yet enticing gameplay. It’s an endless runner type game which basically means you run for as long as you possibly can before you die. The distance you manage to run before you die is your score. Simple – yes, easy – HELL NO! But it is fun. Trust me.
Let’s put it in the form of a well known cliché “easy play but hard master”. Controls goes as following, press “fire” (on joystick in port 2) and the running man on screen jumps. Death comes when you fail to reach the next building, run/jump into a bomb or linger on a collapsing building. As long as you run and jump you gain speed, the only way to slow down is to run into boxes or office furniture. But you need speed to make long jumps so don’t slow down too much.
That was the easy part. What makes C64anabalt hard to master is that the “level” is seemingly random generated. Apparently it’s something called procedural generation which is not really random but based on algorithms instead of… yeah let’s just call it random. What it means is that you can’t really prepare for that bomb that drops right in front of you at 432 m or that jump through a lower level window at 1823 m as both might come sooner or later. But then again it is when you crash into a wall above a window and tumble to your death that you get so infuriated by frustration that you immediately press “fire” to play just one more time.
If there’s one flaw I’d like to mention is that there’s no way to save your score. Although it doesn’t affect how fun the game is, it does limit credible bragging.
Graphics and sound
C64anabalt is a really well made port of Canabalt. The graphics are pretty much the same as the original. Sure, there are no big robots scorching the cityscape in the background. But the parallax does provide some depth. Character animation is near identical, even capturing the wailing arms on a long jump and the roll after a high drop. Scrolling is really smooth even at high speeds and I have yet to reach a speed to cause any stuttering. Also there are less pigeons but I wouldn’t consider that a deal breaker.
The music, converted by Encore sounds great. I adds to the gloomy atmosphere set by the grayscale graphics of the war torn city. There are no sound effects but IIRC most C64 games never gave you the option of both, if anything you could choose between one of the two and in this case I would have gone with the music all the time.
Is it worth the money?
If you have the money to spare then yes £22 (including shipping) for a newly developed game on working cartridge to a Commodore 64 isn’t too expensive. If you just want to play Canabalt, the original flash game is free to play and can be found here. The iOS/Android ports might cost less and have more features than C64anabalt, but they won’t let you fondle your old TAC-2 or Wico Bathandle.
As an added bonus, C64anabalt can be used to as a conversational ice breaker for male humans over the age of 30, preferably former C64 owners.
All in all Canabalt is a great game to pick up and play when you have a moment to spare. C64anabalt on a cartridge let’s you do just that. Flick the power switch on your C64 and you’re ready to start your daring escape.
To get your copy of C64anabalt go here.
Screenshots and video borrowed from rgcd.co.uk.