Universal Game Center Rating: 9+

Canabalt is a game from Last Chance Media, LLC, originally released 1st October, 2009

$2.99Google Play

Canabalt Review

We demand more depth all the time from our games. We expect alternate endings, skill trees, side quests, and endless hours of gameplay. For once, though, we appreciated a game that takes the opposite approach: creating an extremely compact, thoroughly memorable minute or so of intensity.

According to the developer, Canabalt was developed in the space of about five days as part of a micro-game experiment. This game’s impact is sure to be felt much longer than five days, though. Like a colony in a petri dish, or a one-act play, Canabalt offers just a self-contained glimpse of a larger world outside.

Canabalt is an interesting experiment, and it’s one we enjoyed. It’s a game that measures your involvement in minutes, not hours, but we’re confident you’ll still be thinking about it for weeks or months to come.


You control a tiny, pixels-high running man, who crazily sprints across the tops of buildings while the world apparently ends around him. War of the Worlds walkers and whizzing spaceships adorn the backgrounds, while in the foreground buildings are slammed with missiles or crumble beneath your feet. Extra-snazzy particle effects, like breaking glass or flying doves, provide even more incredible window-dressing. You couldn’t ask for a better introduction to this world.

Once you’re off running, you have to time your jumps to move between buildings and over obstacles that appear in your way. Every time you play it, the environment is randomly generated, so you can’t simply memorize what obstacles come next. It’s a pure exercise in reaction time, with a beautiful presentation that you won’t forget anytime soon.

After you face your inevitable death, your options are limited. You can post your score on Twitter through the game (which has become a bit of a trend lately) or tap the replay button and try again. Canabalt is simply irresistible to replay.

The nearly-flawless execution of one simple idea makes the lack of a story or any other depth inconsequential, but we still require global high scores before giving this game our full recommendation. Also, we think this game would be better priced at a dollar, especially since the original Flash game is still free to play as well.

Canabalt is an interesting experiment, and it’s one we enjoyed. It’s a game that measures your involvement in minutes, not hours, but we’re confident you’ll still be thinking about it for weeks or months to come.

More stories on Canabalt

PocketNext Interviews Canabalt Creator Adam Saltsman

Over at PocketNext, a brand-new website dedicated to mobile games and reviews, they’re touting a detailed interview with Adam Saltsman, the creator of Canabalt. Canabalt effectively created the popular auto-running genre on iOS, and we were curious about what Adam’s been up to since its launch in 2009.

The two-part interview can be read here and here. In it, Saltsman talks about his life after Canabalt, the merits of marking a game down to free for a limited time, and the value of in-game achievements.

And if you haven’t yet, be sure to bookmark PocketNext for more interesting mobile articles and reviews. The site’s Editor in Chief, Grant Holzhauer, is an accomplished Slide To Play and Padvance alumnus.

Canabalt is Now a Universal App

Canabalt, the stylish, single-button game that has you sprinting across rooftops, cranes, and billboards, away from skyscraper-sized machines that are destroying the world, has just become a universal app. That means that now the game will play on both iPhones and iPads in native resolution without you having to buy two versions of the game.

We played it on an iPad, and it performs exactly as expected, which is to say, perfectly. The graphics lose nothing in their transition to the big screen, and the music coming out of the speaker is, as always, atmospheric and energetic. It looks more than ever like an NES game turned up to 11.

When it first came out there was debate about Canabalt’s pricing, with some people declaring that $2.99 was too expensive for such a simple game. On the other hand, the game’s style, polish, and one-more-try appeal won many people over (including us). Regardless of what you thought before, based on the higher pricing norms for iPad games, Canabalt looks like a pretty good deal now.