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A Diamond in the Rough

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If you ever see this game for sale, you should buy it. Why? Because Cannon Fodder is one of the rarest games for the system and has a high entertainment value.

Very few GBC games contain a high production value, and rightfully so. The GBC is limited in almost every way: graphical capabilities, processing power, only two face buttons, a single mono speaker, etc. However, the designers and programmers at Codemasters managed to put together a GBC game that exceeds most other GBC games in just about every gameplay category. Ever see a 3D FMV on the GBC screen? Didn?t think voice work was capable on the system? Playing Cannon Fodder will blow expectations by showing the player things that weren?t thought possible on a GBC game.

The player takes control over a pair of soldiers in a real time action sort of war. Yes, the game is built around the seriousness theme of war, but it has a few cuter moments. Character sprites are big headed and friendly looking but scream bloody murder when they get shot. The player has direct control over this two-man squad, but movement and actions are performed with a point-and-click style of game play. The D-pad moves an onscreen cursor while the ?A? and ?B? buttons tell the soldiers to move to a specific location and shoot, similar to a game of War Craft.

Each mission consists of the ?destroy all enemies? theme. Once every enemy solider has been eliminated, the player moves onto the next level. Each level?s environment, however, is different and filled with hazards and traps. The player has a limited number of soldiers at his disposal, and once they get killed, they are gone forever. It is in the player?s best interest to play through each level conservatively, watching out for enemy fire and environmental hazards. Each level starts off with the player in control of two soldiers. Once one recruit gets picked off, the remaining soldier is left to venture solo. If this soldier gets killed in action, two new soldiers will parachute back at the entry point of the level, restarting the whole process. Once all reserved servicemen have been killed, it is game over. However, according to the player?s performance at the end of each level, more troops will join your squad.

Cannon Fodder is not only a unique game because of its entertainment value; it is also burned onto a four-megabyte cartridge. More than 95% of all GBC game are either placed on a one or two-mb cart. Because of this extra size, the developers decided to add in whatever cool effects they could. Before the game starts, a Full Motion 3D Video will greet the player for the quest ahead. The menu select screen is built with 3D objects such as choppers, houses, and a cemetery. Reading this review does not give the game any justice. You have to see this game to fully believe it. You know the designers go the extra step when they take the time to create the game?s menu in 3D.

It is very cool to see an FMV in a GBC game, but most of the cart space is dedicated to the audio portion of the game. A nice digital tune plays during the opening FMV, and the voice work is very well done. In fact, the voice work is so clear, you won?t believe this is coming from the single GBC speaker. The only negative aspect of the audio is the fact that the game tended to ?hum? or ?buzz? with a little bit of static noise. I am not sure if this flaw was in this particular game cart or if it is present in every copy. Yes, this noise becomes annoying, but it could just be my copy of the game.

The game may be fun, but there are a few lacking gameplay elements. First, there is no type of a radar or map system. Some levels are really large in size and traversing the entire grounds can become confusing, especially when both soldiers die and you have to start back at the beginning. Next, there should have been some type of two-player link mode. A Vs mode, or better yet, a Co-op mode would have greatly increased the replay value and added a whole new level of fun into the game. While these instances technically cannot be counted as flaws as they were not even in the game, it would have been nice if they were implemented into the final product.

Cannon Fodder is one game handheld players should play just see how far ahead this game really was. Only released in very limited quantity, Cannon Fodder is a rare and hard game to come by. However, dedicated handheld gamers may be lucky enough to find a used copy at your local game store. If you manage to find a copy of this game, you will not be disappointed.

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