Cannon Blast! Review

By Marc Saltzman |

Perhaps it’s due to breakthrough films, such as the "Pirates of the Caribbean" series, but the pirate theme is everywhere these days – from toys to books to video games.

And so it’s no surprise one of the hottest casual game downloads is Cannon Blast!, a swashbuckling adventure that fuses combat on the high seas with "Zuma"-style ball-blasting fun.

The end result is a gorgeous and addictive adventure that’s a true treasure to behold.

Cannon Blast! introduces us to a colorful cast of characters, each with their own personality and objective, such as the lovely Scarlet Revenge, the quirky "One-Eyed Larry" and the mean ‘ol Sharksword and his followers. You must find and collect treasures from various islands spread out over various seas as well as accomplish tasks such as picking up new crewmembers or obtaining a special scroll, and then figuring out ho to read the encoded information.

The story links together the more than 100 levels of game-play, which closely resembles the popular "Zuma" game from PopCap (but with much better 3-D graphics!). With the backdrop of rolling waves, islands, icebergs, mountains and foliage, gamers will see a string of multi-colored balls roll out onto the screen, which follows a specific pattern, as it snakes towards a flash skull. Your goal is to grab a colored ball from the chain by left- or right-mouse-clicking it (such as blue) and then firing it back towards the chain to create at least three adjacent balls of the same color. Doing this destroys the balls, and so it’s your goal to destroy as much as the chain of balls as possible before it reaches the skull.

Power-ups will begin to appear, as indicated by a different-colored ball or another object on the chain. When used to create a group of three or more same-colored balls, players receive a temporarily advantage including a reversal (the chain moves backwards for a few seconds), an ice storm that hails down to break balls on the chain, a rapid fire power-up that blows up balls, another that slows down the chain’s movement to a crawl, and so on.

But unlike other games of this kind, Cannon Blast! offers a few unique features. One of them is a bonus spinwheel bonus on each level; when you grab n’ shoot a special ball, players will be presented with a spinning wheel that will end up on a prize, including a Triple Points bonus or a mega cannonball or huge hammer to destroy more balls on the screen.

A second, more interesting feature is a store that lets you spend earned gold on a dozen or so power-ups to help give you an edge in the game.

Speaking of earning gold, Cannon Blast! also offers mini-games, such as the Armada Mode that lets you earn gold by destroying oncoming ram ships using your cannon before they touch you.

Minor beefs include some graphical "hiccups" when the action gets heavy (likely due to the snazzy 3-D visuals) and many of the levels tend to look the same, even when you graduate to the North Sea and beyond. Again, these are small issues and in no way does it detract from the overall experience.

Between the fun story and memorable characters, many levels (spread across various islands, and all viewed from a world map), attractive graphics and bonus features (store, mini-games and power-ups), Cannon Blast! is easily one of the finest "Zuma"-style games available today. Pirate fans will also love this accessible and "explosive" arcade game.

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