Cannon Fodder Revisited – Part 1

August 9, 2012

So here we go. Cannon Fodder. If you’ve not read the intro, perhaps you should.

It’s been a very long time since I played more than the opening two missions of this. I remember My Beautiful Skidoo and one thing you have to do (jump a river) and… Well that’s the extent of my memory. First, the ground rules for this play through:

1) Due to the fact I’m doing this in an emulator, I will be using save states rather than the game’s actual save feature. This is because Cannon Fodder used its own custom disk format for saving, and I remember fighting years ago to try and create a usable one. While I DID manage it then, I have no memory of HOW I did it. So rather than do that, I’ll just save the game state.

2) I may reload if it all goes wrong. I’m 41 years old and have four kids. I am not the good for nothing layabout I was back then with unlimited time and cigarettes. I’m now a good for nothing layabout ex-smoker with four kids, diabetes and a screwed up back. I’d really like to see the end of the game, and I know that it gets VERY hard (though not as hard as the allegedly impossible Cannon Fodder 2). I will avail myself of the ability to make my life a little bit easier. However I won’t be abusing it every five seconds. (If only because it seems to take quite a long time to unfreeze the emulator and I’m a man of little patience).

3) War will never be so much fun.  Go up to your brother, kill him with your gun, leave him lying in his uniform dying in the Sun. (The theme song from the intro, in case you didn’t watch the video on the intro piece.)

So the game is fired up, sitting on the hill. The Robinson’s are all tucked in, we are ready to fly!

Let’s get initiated boys!

I’m sorry, I don’t understand this mission briefing. It’s confusingly complicated! Not to mention grammatically inadequate! Should there not be a the in there to make it more aesthetically pleasing? Anyway, mission 1… KILL ALL THE THINGS!

The 13 recruits remaining is misleading as immediately on completion of this mission a bunch more meat puppets join the line by the hill and are fed into the war machine, with Stoo being added to Jools and Jops from the first mission for our second foray. The latter two were Heroes in Victory after the last mission, and therefore are promoted in rank. As far as I’m aware this has zero effect on the game beyond making it all the sadder when they inevitably die. (Though I think they’re supposedly more accurate etc…)

Mission 2. Love the Leslie Thomas reference. My Dad’s favourite author coincidentally. Now, let’s see what the mission briefing says. KILL ALL THE THINGS… AGAIN! Don’t worry. It does get more interesting after this. No sense posting more briefing screens, unless it’s something interesting and creative. And to be quite honest I can’t remember if that’s ever the case. I note the small print at the top. Phase 1 of 2. Yep, no more single missions.

Here’s the start of the mission. At the top of the screen there’s already a bastard incoming. He is swiftly dispatched as he can’t return fire. This highlights the fact that WATER IS NOT YOUR FRIEND! You enter water, you can’t fire. Your options are either split your group and leave one standing guard on shore or, if you have as cavalier a regard for their safety as I do, send them all in, and pray there isn’t a charlie nearby to shoot them in the face. It’s also best to check the map to see where is a good place to cross.

Well would you look at that. A bridge! In a level titled Bridge over the River Pie! I think I’ve figured out the clue in the title!!! The red X is where we are right now. So a standard sweep and clear. I figure we’ll skirt the shore to the bridge, then up and around anti-clockwise until everyone is dead. Hopefully them. Not me.

Immediately upon striking out for the bridge we’re jumped by the enemy. A tense firefight ensues. Fortunately our beloved heroes, including newcomer Stoo, survive the onslaught. We continue around until all the enemy are no more. One thing I have noticed: The path finding is HORRENDOUS! You have to micromanage the exact path you want them to take with constant clicks, or they’ll get stuck in the bushes, behind trees etc… Slightly frustrating. There’s also no logic. If you click and there’s a few pixels of water, they’ll walk through it rather than around it. This of course leads us to the earlier mentioned issue of not being able to fire while traversing water. In short, your soldiers are as dumb as a box of hair, the lovable little scamps.

We sweep around nicely. There are a couple of dodgy moments where, due to my colour blindness, I wind up having trouble distinguishing bad guys from bushes. No I am not joking. However all is well, and our 3 heroes survive phase 1 of the mission. Huzzah! There is much jubilation and jumping and celebrating, since the one thing you want to do in a war is jump up and down and draw attention to yourself.

Phase 2 is not KILL ALL THE THINGS… YET AGAIN! Well, it IS, but there’s an added wrinkle. We now have to destroy all enemy buildings as well. I remember this level well. In arguably the funniest death in the history of gaming, I got all the way here and blew the house up in a prior attempt, only for the roof to land on Jops, killing him. No such fate will befall our heroes here. I will not allow it. I fully expect this statement to bite me hard in a few minutes…

The level doesn’t mess about and throws you straight in the middle of the action with two enemy bearing down on you immediately. A swift burst of fire and they’re dead. Now the tension builds as we slowly work our way around the map, down to the bottom right corner to take out the enemies shed so they can no longer do their gardening. TAKE THAT, NAMELESS ENEMY I DON’T KNOW WHY I’M KILLING! (A prophetic meta-comment on the futility of war perhaps?)

So we start top right and merrily wend our way down. Had we had the forethought to bring some chainsaws, we could cut out a large chunk of this and go straight for the shed.

This is a tense level. This is the first level where you start to feel concerned for your little men. It’s very easy to lose someone on this level as the game stops mucking about and starts upping the difficulty. This is where Jops, Jools and Stoo go from being little groups of pixels to living breathing recreations of men. A Band of Brothers if you will.

There are many, many ducks flying over. And what the hell is that skeleton at the top? A former soldier? A dead yeti? A foreshadowing? We shiver despite the humidity and move on… A few scattered forces fire at us but we survive. It seems almost cruel to shoot the ones swimming toward us, unable to fire, but then they’d do the same to us so SCREW THEM! Then, suddenly, something strange in the forest. We start blasting away only to discover it’s… An unusual looking tree. Very glad ammo is unlimited in this.

Further around there is something in the water (pictured left, bottom right). Just what the hell IS that thing?! Being all low resolution as it is it looks like Swamp Thing had sex with an octopus and that was the offspring. Can it eat me if I go near it? I decided it’s best not to find out. And again with the ducks everywhere! This is quackers!

The Management would like to apologize for the quality of the last joke. Those responsible have been shot.

The water in that picture is traversed as quickly as possible to avoid being vulnerable. No attempt to eat us was made by Swamp Thing’s octopus love child.

We duck (HAHA!) and dive around until we reach the GARDEN SHED OF CERTAIN REGENERATING DEATH!

You see that shed? It constantly spawns enemies. I also remembered the fact that when you hit the fuel dump next door to it, shed go boom, door go flying. Where? Right in the little gap at the bottom where you’d inevitably be standing. I remember finding this out the hard way. I move up and around and blow the fuel dump. The roof goes up and for a couple of seconds things look like Jools, Jops and Stoo will be taking an early bath, but then mercifully lands up in the forest. The first horror of war occurs. You can just see it below the upper fuel dump, to the right of the forest. This enemy wasn’t killed. He lay there, bleeding and moaning. Meaning you have to shoot him again. For a second I think I’ve missed something elsewhere. Then I realise this poor dying enemy is the reason the mission isn’t complete. I sadly fire one last burst to end his pain. And the mission.

Two promotions to Sergeant, and one to Corporal. (If the poorly written text I happened upon via Google is to be believed.) Two missions in, no deaths. The current score is Home 50 – 0 Away. Some more recruits join the ever growing line of souls willing to die for whatever cause it is I’m fighting for/against. RJ now joins our existing heroes. I hope he packed his mittens!

Yes, we’re off to the snow and ice after the jungles of wherever the hell we just were. I am a sucker for snow levels in video games. Plus the snow contrasts nicely with the bad guys meaning my colour blindness won’t be such an issue. Huzzah!

How will the trip into the snow and ice go? Will our beloved heroes survive to go on a fourth mission? Will the introduction of grenades cause any tragic friendly fire incidents? All this and more will be answered next time on Cannon Fodder Revisited!

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