Publisher: Elemental Focus / Developer: Elemental Focus / Platform: XBLIG

Yet another example of an XBLIG title taking a now-standard flash game idea and making it something worthwhile, The Cannon takes the tired “shoot things with a stationary cannon” genre and gives it some unique flavor to make it seem like slightly more than just shooting the same three enemies with an immovable, rotating howitzer.

One thing that The Cannon lays down pretty quickly is that the game is not meant to be taken seriously by any stretch of the imagination.  A prologue into each level is narrated surprisingly well for an indie game, and while there isn’t much explained in the way of story some of the text is rather funny.  Most of the enemies are pretty cliche (although it is made obvious this was for comedic effect) and range from ninjas, pirates and robots, among a few others.  Your cannon can rotate 360 degrees and comes equipped with four different weapons all mapped to the face buttons of the Xbox controller, and each weapon has its own unique effects and is more (or less) useful on certain types of enemy.  For example, the fireball will set pirates’ peglegs on fire, forcing them to crawl, and thus slowing their offense.  On the other hand, robots’ metal hulls cannot be lit aflame, and fireballs will merely bounce off of them with little damage.  This adds a surprising amount of strategy to what would otherwise be a pretty boring minigame.

The Cannon starts off pretty easy, with only a few enemies slowly trickling out.  As you continue playing you start to see new types of enemies, and pretty soon every enemy type is descending upon your little cannon all at once.  It can be pretty frantic watching a bunch of little figures surrounding you, only to find you’ve accidentally shot a fireball at a robot as it bounces harmlessly off its metal chassis as it continues its offense.

The Cannon takes a tired genre and adds a bit of personal flavor to it.  While the game never really evolves far from cannon tower defense, what’s there is still fun and engaging, and at times surprisingly challenging.