You are the last of the survivors and have found yourself alone in a cannon. The last cannon to be specific. From within said cannon you must blast countless enemies out of the sky. Last Cannon is yet another “shoot falling enemies” game on the iPhone but manages to stand out thanks to its odd stylistic choices and tight controls.
The player is immediately thrust into the strange world of Last Cannon with the oddly tragic music. A brief bit of story is shared, and the game commences. Interestingly, while the backdrop of the game is subtle and makes use of a muted color palette, the enemies and special effects in the foreground burst out of the screen with cartoon art and bright colors. So while the majority of the game looks like a stylized old photograph, the rest of the stuff on the screen looks fresh out of a Saturday morning cartoon. The art direction may be unsettling at first, but I found that after playing with it a bit more I grew to appreciate its merits. For one thing, the game has not settled to merely fall into an artistic convention, but uses its inspirations to make a style that I now uniquely associate with Last Cannon. What looks to be confused at the start, can also be commended for its depth and originality.
After establishing how the game meshes stylistically, the player is free to immerse him/herself into the mechanics of Last Cannon. Enemies come in two variations, blue and orange. The cannon has a beam mounted on it, that allows one to switch the color of any enemies hit with the beam. Enemies that have been shot with a projectile from the cannon will also detonate any enemies of the same color within range, and if enough blue enemies explode the oranges that are nearby may erupt as well. Use of the beam is also a method of conserving ammo, due to the same-color detonation feature discussed in the previous sentence. Ammo is limited, but will always recharge after a short time.
While the enemies are lingering near the top of the screen, it is fairly easy to take them out in large numbers. Once a few bold members of the group advance closer to the cannon, the challenge rises. Madly tilting the iPhone to take out each individual rapidly approaching foe is simultaneously exhilerating and gut-wrenching. Once the player reaches their wit’s end, a variety of extras are available to alleviate the increasing pressure. The cannon can be temporarily upgraded to shoot three rounds at once, the beam can also get a boost, and the player has the option of using a screen clearing bomb when it is deemed necessary. This bomb can be used at any time, but can take a while to recharge, as do the other upgrades.
The game’s challenge ramps up nicely, but it seems that after a couple hundred thousand points the game does not get significantly harder and the difficulty at this point lies in keeping one’s wits and reflexes about him. Despite the fact that a certain wave may have the same amount of enemies as the last, I found myself failing at times just because I fell out of the rhythm of the game. Last Cannon does have a distinct rhythm: the enemies come with increasing intensity until it appears to be impossible and a last minute upgrade saves the day. Difficulty is followed by a lull in which to recover, and the process continues indefinitely or until four enemies cross the bottom of the screen. I enjoyed the pacing of the game, but some more variety would not have hurt.
Last Cannon is a great shooter option for your iPhone, and is a must have for high score junkies at the modest price of 99 cents.
The presentation of this game stands out in my mind as being truly unique.
There are some issues when firing rapid cannon shots, as each new shot cuts over the previous shot’s sound without any sort of fading. The rest of the game sounds great, and goes especially well with some WWII era Russian string quartets for any classical buffs reading.
Last Cannon uses tilt wisely, in a way that frees up the player’s thumbs to man the cannon and beam weapons. I never felt upset with how I was interacting with the game. The basic mechanics are nothing unique.
Leaderboards add depth to what would have otherwise been a pretty short experience. Right now it seems that not many people are playing as it is fairly easy to get high up in the rankings.
You don’t have to look hard to find a game that is similar to Last Cannon, but its stylistic choices help it stand out from its competitors.