By now, Angry Birds is a game just about everyone has played. It made its nest on top of the iTunes charts months ago and hasn’t plummeted since. Cannon Cadets attempts to capitalize on Angry Birds’ success, but it’s not nearly as good. A shoddy frame rate, embarrassing sound effects, and a lack of interesting level design keeps it from being competition of any kind.
Like in Angry Birds, you must destroy all enemies by crashing into the bad guy’s structures and crushing them beneath the tumbling walls. You’ve got control over the power and trajectory of each shot, as well as the abilities of special cadets that you launch. These abilities are activated when you touch the screen and must be used to strategically exploit weaknesses in the enemy’s fortress.
An envoy from the Planet of the Apes.
Cannon Cadets’ level design isn’t very interesting. Most levels amount to the same tactic of shooting cadets directly at the structure’s wood foundation and setting off a bomb to get rid of enemies. If you stick with the game to the end, you’ll find some interesting uses of moving targets, but getting there can be a grind.
That said, you don’t need to beat every level to access locked ones. An optional in-app purchase allows you to instantly unlock every level for $0.99. This is an unobtrusive implementation of in-app purchases that we think would benefit similar puzzle games.
Along with the 80 levels are four bonus levels, and the cool thing here is how you unlock them. Every set of 20 levels has five where a spaceship floats overhead at some point. Hitting this will net you a coin. Collect five of these coins and a bonus level will unlock.
Here comes the banhammer.
Cannon Cadets has decent graphics, but nothing that would account for the super-choppy frame rate it suffers every time you launch the cadet. This lack of optimization really sticks out and makes the game feel rushed.
Also unpleasant are the sound effects, which amount to silly voices and an onslaught of burps and farts while the cadet flies through the air. This gets old, and quickly. The only way to turn these off is to mute the sound.
Cannon Cadets could become better in the future, especially if the promised level editor arrives in an update. However, at the moment we recommend sticking with Angry Birds, a much more polished game which is constantly being updated with new content.