Review by JPeeples

Reviewed: 10/17/01 | Updated: 10/17/01

A fine game marred with a few major problems.

Cannon Spike was released in December of 2000 for the Sega Dreamcast. Cannon Spike was developed by Psykio, a subsidiary of Capcom, who published the game. Cannon Spike is a top-down shooter in the vein of Super Smash T.V. that stars some of Capcom’s most memorable characters, such as the immortal Mega Man, the legendary star of the Ghosts and Goblins series, King Arthur, as well as Street Fighter veterans Cammy and Charlie. Lesser-known characters such as Darkstalkers' B.B. Hood, as well as brand-new characters like Simone and Shiba round out the character roster for the game, which ends up being quite robust for a shooting game.

The gameplay in Cannon Spike takes the form of a top-down shooter, not unlike the legendary Robotron, or its spiritual successor, Super Smash T.V. The gameplay is fast, frenetic, and is sure to keep you on your toes The core gameplay involves you just shooting group after group of enemies that swarm you until you vanquish each and every one of them. This may sound like an immense task, luckily for you there are a few added attack methods that you can employ to aid you in your quest for victory. One of these methods is an unblockable super attack that assaults enemies with an astonishing amount of damage, this is at the expense of some of your life however, so use this method wisely. There is also an auto-lock-on feature that sends your attacks to the enemy that the game has highlighted for you; nine times out of ten, the highlighted enemy will be the one closest to you, this ends up being a problem, especially when you’re being ganged up on by numerous enemies, the cursor is all but useless in those situations because it just flails wildly. The lock-on, while a novel idea, simply wasn’t executed well enough to be of much help in most battles in the game, it can be quite helpful in boss battles as there are less enemies attacking you. This shoot-em-up style of gameplay can become quite addictive, however, too much of a good thing sours you, and this is true with this game. Be forewarned, do not play this game for hours on end each day, you will tire of the game quickly. As long as you pace yourself, you’ll be in for a ride that you’ll keep coming back to for years to come, just don’t try and squeeze years of life into a few days. The lock-on problem, while annoying, doesn’t ruin the game, it just makes you work a little bit harder towards achieving victory.

The control of the game is about as good as could be expected, except for the aforementioned lock-on problems. The control is responsive and you’ll always be able to attack when you want to, however, the lock-on can prevent you from attacking who you want, when you want to. My advice to players of the game is to try and compensate for the lock-on problems as much as you can. Once you learn how to overcome them, you’ll be set, just stick to it.

The graphics in Cannon Spike are about as good as I’ve ever seen in a top-down shooter. The characters all sport a nice, clear 3D-rendered look to them that adds a dimension of reality to them. They haven’t lost one bit of character in the transition to 3D, which is a welcome surprise. The game’s ten levels all have a distinct look and feel to them that adds quite a bit of personality to the game. For example, there’s a level that takes place in a dark, dingy mansion that was seemingly ripped right out of Resident Evil, I think it’s nice that Capcom would pay homage to other games in this game, it’s a nice clever touch that is missing is so many games today. The bosses of the game are in a league of their own, well, for the most part. The final boss must be seen to be believed, it’s simply that odd and off-kilter.

The game’s sound is a bit of a mixed bag. On one hand, the game’s sound effects, of which there are many, are all done well as they fit their actions perfectly. On the other hand, the game’s music is rather tepid, and it doesn’t do a lick to emphasize anything in the game, as it lacks any real soul behind it. This is a huge disappointment for me because I was expecting some good music in the game, Capcom has delivered some classic tunes in the past, the least they could have done was include those in the place of the bland drek that adorns the game.

Cannon Spike gives you ten different difficulty levels to choose from. Level one is good for those who are new to shooting games, or to those who just want to brush up on their existing skills without having to worry about having the snot kicked out of them. Level ten is meant for shooting game veterans who know this game inside and out. Level five strikes a nice balance between the two extremes, it’s neither all that hard, or all that easy, it gives you a fine middle ground. On the whole, Cannon Spike isn’t a hard game unless you make it that way. On the other side of the coin, it’s not an easy game unless you make it so.

Cannon Spike has plenty of replay value as long as you don’t burn yourself out playing it too much, too soon. CS does offer up a nice assortment of secrets for you to uncover; everything from a rather robust photo gallery, to secret characters, are here for you to unlock, all you have to do is show the initiative to unlock them.

Overall, Cannon Spike is a fine game. It has fast, addictive gameplay that remains fun as long as you don’t burn out on it. The graphics are top-notch, and, while the control and sound have their share of faults, they don’t ruin the game. You’ve got nothing to lose by picking this game up. You can find it for about $15 now, so go for it and take the plunge, you’ll more than get your moneys worth.

Rating:   3.5 - Good

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