Cannon Fodder

In the back of the manual for Cannon Fodder, there's a little passage that reads:


"And on a more serious note: don't try this at home, kids, because real war is not a game; real war, as Cannon Fodder demonstrates in its own quirky little way, is a senseless waste of human resources and lives. We hope that you never have to find out the hard way."


Which, I'm sure you'll agree, is a little poignant for a game that oozes as much charm and fun as this one does. Cannon Fodder is a strategic shooter that, to me at least, looks and feels like a hybrid of Command & Conquer (sans base building and resource management) and Metal Gear. The premise is deceptively simple: you start a mission (which is usually made up of several different stages, or 'phases') with a certain number of tiny troops and must complete the objectives (usually destroying all enemy buildings and killing all the enemy troops on a map) without losing all the members of your squad.

You control your squad by means of a pointer and tell the team where to go by moving the pointer to their destination and pressing the 'move' button. Whenever an enemy comes into view, you hold down the fire button (which turns your cursor into a cross-hair) and your troops will fire in the direction that your curser is pointed. Sounds a bit confusing, I know, but in practice, the system is very, very simple. You can split your team into different groups and control them independently using the numeric keypad (up to 3 squads can be formed), and this can help create strategies when confronted with large enemy numbers, and vehicles such as tanks (which the game calls 'tanx' for some reason), jeeps and helicopters (which the game, again, insists on referring to as 'choppas.').

There are 24 main missions in the game, and the terrain changes depending on your mission, with each theatre type coming with it's own hazards - crossing rivers means your troops can't fire as they're swimming, and quicksand will slow your men down leaving them open to enemy attack - as well as a labyrinthine layout concealing numerous enemy units and installations who are all intent on wiping you out.

On first glance you'd be forgiven for writing Cannon Fodder off as a pretty shoddy looking shooter, but look past the slightly dodgy Sensible Soccer-esque graphical style (well, it is made by the same developer) and there's a highly playable game here that has a real sense of humour. A mention must also go to the music in Cannon Fodder - the title music is fantastic, as is the menu music: it totally fits the feel of the game, and this must also be one of the only war games that places an emphasis on the seriousness of the subject matter while still trying to make it a fun and enjoyable experience.

This Jaguar port is, as far as I can tell, a perfect replication of the Amiga version (and is possibly the only Jaguar game to offer a Hi-res and Lo-res option - see bottom two screen grabs below) and the only other difference between it and the 3DO version I also own is the omission of the rendered videos. But no-one watches rendered videos more than once, so you're not missing much if you only get to play this version! Cannon Fodder: top fun and highly recommended.












2 comments:

  1. That reminds of General Chaos a little bit, one of my favorite MD/Genesis games. After reading a bit on this site I've come to the realization that I need a Jaguar as soon as possible. There seems to be a ton of great games.

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    1. Thanks for reading and commenting! Yeah, there are a few gems on the Jag, just knowing which ones to buy!

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