You’re in your office when the city is attacked. You start running, leaping over a chair and out the window of a skyscraper, landing on the roof of a nearby building. Birds scatter as you run faster and faster, leaping from rooftop to crumbling rooftop, running over girders and billboards as you see smoke and war machines in the distance. An airship whizzes by, disorienting you, and suddenly a missile falls from the sky and lands in front of you. You try to jump, but it’s too late – you didn’t make it.
You’re playing Canabalt HD, an enhanced version of the popular flash game Canabalt. Don’t feel bad – all Canabalt play sessions end with some sort of mistake.
We’re focusing on the $2.99 Android version here, but Canabalt is available for iOS, too. You can also play the original flash version for free on your PC or install it from the Chrome Web Store. If you purchased the second Humble Bundle for Android when it was available, you already have Canabalt HD.
Canabalt HD loads fast and sessions are quick, so it’s the perfect game to play on a smartphone when you have a moment for gaming. Unlike a lot of mobile games, there are no microtransactions or ads to tarnish the experience. The one-button controls that felt a bit simplified for a browser game are at home on a touch-screen phone.
Your character runs on his own. All you can do is tap the screen to jump. You’ll have to jump from rooftop to other rooftops, girders, and billboards. Some buildings will start to collapse as you land on them. Sometimes you’ll find yourself under sudden attack when a missile lands in front of you.
The simple controls may make this sound easy, but it isn’t. As you run, you’ll speed up. If you’re running slowly, you’ll have to leap from the edge of a roof. If you’re running quickly, you may need to jump from the middle of a rooftop to land on the next rooftop. Sometimes you’ll have to jump into the window of a building at a specific height, which necessitates a quick decision based on how fast you’re running and how high the window is.
Smaller obstacles, such as boxes and chairs, just slow you down when you hit them. You can use these objects strategically to slow yourself down if you start going too fast. Of course, hit too many boxes and you’ll start moving so slowly that you can’t make jumps, resulting in you plummeting from the rooftops. Running faster allows you to travel more distance in a shorter time, too, increasing your score. It’s a balancing act.
The point of the game is to run as far as possible before you fall. If you’re the competitive type, you can compete against other players on the scoreboards for the best runs today, this week, this month, or of all time.
Graphics and Sound
The mobile version, Canabalt HD, has enhanced graphics not found in the original flash version you can play online. Buildings appear in 3D and everything is generally more detailed. You can toggle the HD graphics off in the menu if you prefer the flat, 2D graphics. The monochrome, stylized graphics make it easy to see what’s going on.
The developers haven’t skimped on the music – the default music is amazingly catchy and fits the game well, encouraging you to sprint. Sounds, especially the rumble of a collapsing building, the noise of an airship flying by, or the sound of a glass window shattering as you fly through it, are done well. The game recommends playing with headphones and it’s a good idea because the sound helps suck you in.
For more great games, be sure to check out our best Android games list – which includes Canabalt HD. If you’re an iPhone user, consult our list of the best iPhone games. If you’re playing in your browser, we have a list of awesome games you can install from the Chrome Web Store.
Are there any other Canabalt HD fans out there? Let us know what you think of the game in the comments!