REVIEW: Human Cannonball

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The library of Atari 2600 games that interest me is slim. Of course, there’s Adventure and Haunted House, but the 2600 is better known for its arcade-style games—River Raid, etc. Still, there are a few RPG, adventure, and strategy games: the fantastically cryptic Swordquest series, Stellar Track (kind of a space battle ship simulator), and Human Cannonball—an artillery game where you figure power, angle, and distance to fire an acrobat into a tub of water.

Human Cannonball is clever and charming and the challenge is extreme—due in part to its slightly janky physics (occasionally the relationship between power and angle doesn’t work as you’d expect). While the game is simple—there are only three variables to calculate—the different modes make it interesting. Sometimes you have a random fixed power and angle and must find the distance, or a fixed angle and distance to find power, or any combination of those. The harder modes involve a moving wall to block your shots, requiring the proper trajectory and perfect timing to fire through the wall’s gap. The final challenge (calling on as much luck as skill) has a fixed angle and power with a moving wall. You’ve got find the distance and have impeccable timing to get through.

An original take on the artillery game, Human Cannonball is pretty cool—and probably the only example of the genre on the 2600. Lacking the chaos of the tank battle artillery games (Scorched Earth, Pocket Tanks), it’s strictly for the precise and patient.

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