So for the sequel, Sensible Software went with a nice safe inoffensive image of a hand grenade for their logo. Fortunately for them Something Awful hadn't been created yet, so they got away with it this time. And everyone was happy.
Stuart Campbell was actually a game journalist before joining Sensible, working as the editor of Amiga Power... which got dragged into the Royal Legion issue too due to plans to put the Cannon Fodder poppy logo on the magazine's cover. Such an amazing amount of moral outrage over a game that's basically anti-war.
You know, sometimes I'm half-tempted to make a post just about 'insert disk' screens. A page full of basically nothing but pixelled floppy disks. Maybe even an entire tumblr. That's when I'll know I've finally gone crazy.
Right, before I start playing I should probably set up a save disk.
I gotta admit, the text did make me smile though.
Right away it's obvious this is going to be more difficult than the first game. For one thing, Cannon Fodder's first level didn't start me off on a screenful of enemies, with one of them already lined up to take a shot at me.
Okay just so you know what's going on, the game's a mouse controlled shooter with the goal generally being to take my little pixel men (currently hanging out down in the bottom right) around the level and use them to make all the little enemy pixel men dead by aiming my crosshair at them. The enemy outnumber me, but I have better guns and I only need to hit them once for a kill.
Reviewers at the time accused the game of being more like an expansion pack for Cannon Fodder than a new game in its own right and I can see their point. As far as I can tell it's exactly the same game with (mostly) new art and all new levels. But with 70-something stages it's a bloody long expansion pack.
MISSION 2 - PHASE 3 OF 3: "TAKE ME I'M YOURS".
THREE STAGES LATER.
This is the DOS version by the way, for the sake of comparison. The first game came out on almost everything, but this one was apparently only released on Amigas and PCs. They've redrawn the graphics a bit for the DOS port to add some extra shades, though I prefer the sharper look of the original art.
I'm losing way too many soldiers on this stage, but if I load a save I'll be put all the way back to start of the mission and have to replay the last two stage. Though if I end up without enough soldiers to continue I'll be totally fucked, so I suppose I will have to load.
MISSION 3 - PHASE 1 OF 4: "COMPOUND FRACTURE".
AFTER REPLAYING ALL THOSE STAGES AGAIN.
MISSION 3 - PHASE 2 OF 4: "SAY IT WITH ROCKETS".
THE NEXT STAGE.
This game got a lot of critical acclaim and high scores on release, so I almost feel like any complaints I make are actually revealing my failings as a gamer more than any genuine flaws in the game. But when I'm confronted with a new type of enemy who can kill my precious team in one shot from the other side of the screen two seconds into the level before I've even moved... and I had to search a fucking screenshot afterwards to even discover that he existed... well, there's probably some degree of shitty game design involved there.
MUCH LATER, BACK ON PHASE 1 (OF 4). 30 THOUSAND RETRIES LATER.
Look at this shit, I've fucked up on phase two and reloaded so many times now that I'm actually GOOD at phase one. Though it's nice to know that it possible to get good at the game and I'm not entirely at the mercy of random chance.
EVENTUALLY, ON PHASE 2.
Speaking of trees, I really hate these trees. I'm not sure what Sensible were thinking when they made it so that your soldiers could get stuck on them, but holy shit is it frustrating. Damn, I'm actually getting furious at this video game.
MISSION 3 - PHASE 3 OF 4: "TIPPER TOPPER".
This level starts with a fun and interesting trick. You start in the bottom right of the screen and the enemies spawn from the doors, then come down the right side to shoot you. But the ammo crates you need to destroy the doors are also lying on the right-hand side and they explode if you accidentally shoot them.
Oh wait, did I say it was fun? I meant it was actually really annoying.
MISSION 3 - PHASE 4 OF 4: "IS IT A BIRD".
A RIDICULOUS NUMBER OF RETRIES LATER.
Wait... flying saucer? What?
Also here's another important question, where the fuck are the explosives I need to destroy said enemy structures?
MISSION 4 - PHASE 2 OF 3: "UH OH WE'RE IN TROUBLE".
I'm sure there's a trick to this, I just wish I didn't have to lose my entire team to discover the puzzle.
To be fair I don't think the developers ever made any secret of the fact that this game is meant for people who finished Cannon Fodder 1. Which means I'm not actually meant to be playing it in the first place, as it's not for me. Though I do have to respect a team with the nerve to say 'screw trying to appeal to new gamers and maximise sales, we're going to exclusively target the 5%* of people who finished our first game and found it too easy!'
* Made up number. Very likely to be entirely wrong.
The thing stuck going around in my head while I was playing this was 'why aren't I enjoying this genuine classic loved by thousands?' Well first I thought it might have been this bloody heat... but then I decided that one of the main reasons is because the game's a hard as nails puzzle shooter where pure random chance can get your entire team wiped out in a second, and yet it's bolted onto a lives system designed to make the game harder. The trial and error puzzle solving gameplay wouldn't be so bad if the cost of failure wasn't so high.
Plus the characters get a higher rank and better stats the more missions they complete, so when Brigadier General Jools gets stuck to a tree and killed by a lucky shot on phase 3 (of 4), I'm at a disadvantage from then on through no fault of my own. It's like a shoot 'em up stealing all your power ups away when you lose a life. It suits the 'war is hell' theme perfectly, but I don't really need the game to be any harder to be honest.
I think if they'd replaced the 'complete 4 phases in a row before you can save' system with a Super Meat Boy style level map that gives you the option to replay levels to improve your performance, it could have worked out better for the game. But then again I think that about everything.
You know, I only had one goal when I was playing this, and that was to get far enough into it to get a screenshot of the purple alien planet. And I couldn't even manage that. It even had giant mushroom trees and I can't even show you them!
Oh hang on, I've had an idea...
|Cannon Fodder 2 Demo|
It's funny how turning everything purple gives the game an entirely different vibe. Also now I can't tell who the civilians are anymore until it's too late. Not that'd be able to avoid them anyway, seeing as they like to hang out in front of the enemy spawn buildings.
|Cannon Fodder 2 Demo|
Oh right, I nearly forgot to mention that the Cannon Fodder 2 theme music is probably the best thing about the whole package. Maybe not as good as the original game's theme, but worth a listen. Peace.
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