Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Last Canopy

The Last Canopy is, as you might be able to guess from the pattern so far, the last game in Kongregate's Buried Treasure Week, and it does a much better job of fulfilling the goal of the week than most of the other entrants -- it's got a very kind of indie feeling, and has a couple of interesting game mechanics which are worth looking at.

At its root, The Last Canopy is a standard old-school top-down shooter -- waves of enemies come at you, and you shoot them. In true old-school fashion, there's none of this being able to absorb multiple hits nonsense -- one hit destroys you. You can move with either the keyboard or the mouse, which is a nice touch. However, the one special feature that, in addition to your main ship (which is actually, I believe, a fairy), you also have five brightly colored spheres trailing you. Using your special power, you can absorb the powers of your enemies and store them in your spheres, which will then shoot back at your enemies with their own powers. With clever maneuvering, you can position yourself so that your spheres do the attacking while you stay out of harm's way. However, the charge on a sphere only lasts for a limited amount of time, so you can't just absorb some powerful attacks and then be done with things -- you have to be continuously acquiring new powers. (You can absorb anything -- even boss attacks -- but the more powerful attacks take longer to absorb.)

This is a difficult game -- there are lots of shots to be avoided, and even though the default allotment is 20 lives, you'll find them going pretty quickly. One thing which contributes to the difficulty is that when you die, you lose all of your stored powers, which means that it's very easy to get killed several times in rapid succession when you're weak. The game is not very long overall; there are 4 stages total, and none of them is particularly lengthy, although the obligatory boss fights generally do take a little while.

The game has a rather unique aesthetic -- as I mentioned, you seem to be playing a fairy, which is rather nonstandard for a game in this genre. (The enemies, though, are mostly your standard mechanical assemblies.) The graphics and sound play well into this feeling -- the graphics have kind of a soft pastel feel, and the sound is pleasantly environmental (although this varies in the different levels). The level 3 boss is actively painful, though -- my eyes really hurt after finally making my way through the fight, since it got kind of psychedelic.

Anyway, beating this game is definitely an accomplishment (unless you're playing on a really slow computer, in which case it shouldn't be terribly difficult). Overall, though, I ended up being a little disappointed. While the central mechanic is creative, it doesn't quite flow perfectly into a top-down shooter. I'd say this game is worth a look, but it didn't quite hook me in the way other Kongregate games have.

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