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by Capcom

16-01.jpg (4544 bytes)Capcom’s Canon Spike is the type of game which makes you want to curl-up to an old school NES and relive the glory days of the shooter. Once the disc has been loaded, you’re given that prototypical shooter menu—baby, child, very easy, easy, normal, hard, very hard—the ranges of which don’t necessarily offer more to the storyline or the overall length, but more to the game’s ability to be played over and over and over ad infinitum. Part of this is achieved by bringing together some of the coolest Capcom characters such as Cammy, Megaman, and Arthur (of course, he’s decked out in some kind of super armor, but oh well).

39-01.jpg (4319 bytes)Canon Spike rings of a developer’s side project, something they would do on the weekend involving as many coworkers as possible to create a subtle surprise for the boss. The levels are tight. There’s little choppiness (just some slowdown) in the graphics. The boss characters become more and more difficult to defeat, forcing you to think on your feet and develop a running-strategy to avoid the variety of gunfire coming at you and the hordes of enemies swarming all around. I found myself running circles around my enemies; more, I ran around the screen, just one, big circle, being chased by tiny, pixel bullets, some of which happened to enjoy following me. The game keeps you moving. And, yes, parts of the game, as you approach the end, are what I like to refer to as a real bitch to get through unscathed.

43-01.jpg (5428 bytes)As far as control goes, this game utilizes a targeting system which allows you to lock on and, as long as you hold down the trigger, continuously hit the enemy until either they’ve been destroyed or you get out of range. Granted, this is the toughest portion of the game, since if you let go of the trigger you’ll need to turn around and shoot your enemies until you’ve targeted them again. You’re also offered a special weapon which, much like other shooters, comes in a limited supply, but promises to do major damage to the poor wretches who stand in its path. Other options are physical attacks (as in punches) and a smaller, more semi-powerful weapon, like missiles or large canon, which you’re able to get refills on.

44-01.jpg (4256 bytes)Canon Spike must have some of the coolest explosions seen on the Dreamcast. Large and rendered. The character animation is crisp, particularly the boss characters, one of which I can imagine becoming a classic, recurring enemy if this series were to keep going. And the levels are well designed, graphically speaking, and stick to the Capcom style of themed surroundings. You’re taken from haunted courtyard to robot filled swamp to the mountain slopes with a boss character snowboarding after your ass. In the graphics department, nothing went wrong.

5-01.jpg (4173 bytes)The reason for the four stars? Simple: no matter how cool of a game, Canon Spike still lacks in many areas. For one, the overall game is way too short. There is no roam and shoot; rather, the game has you contained to a small area (and I mean small) in which it crowds a reasonable amount of foes for you to go against. Usually, this is done in two or three waves, i.e. beat all the characters on the screen and more aggressive ones come out of the binary crannies. And, the biggest downer for me, I could see so many avenues of difficulty and complexity this game could have gone down to both increase its length and challenge the shooter norm (granted, it does this to some extent). It would be great if (Capcom must be thinking this, since they’re the king of sequels) that when they begin work on el Canon Spike II they headhunt the development team for Silent Bomber from Bandai and merge the two ideas. Oh, now that would be an intense shooter.

But, what are the pros? If you go and buy it new you’ll be down thirty dollars, making it an ideal buy for one of the coolest shooters on the market for the Dreamcast. Let’s put it this way: Canon Spike is cool, Contra cool, except there’s no up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, A, B, START here.

Mathew Baldwin

Snapshot

Ups: Excellent shooter; pretty innovative; classic Capcom characters; great graphics; frantic action.

Downs: Settings are too small; missed some opportunities for innovation in the genre; too short.

System Reqs:
Sega Dreamcast

 

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