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SummaryA nice little DK clone if you ignore the difficulty
The GoodBack in the early Eighties, Sierra (known as On-Line Systems when it just started out) created many arcade games that were based on original coin-ops, and after creating Crossfire and Jawbreaker, which were clones of Targ and Pac-Man respectively, they created their own version of Donkey Kong. Like Nintendo's game, CannonBall Blitz involves the player climbing a series of platforms in order to reach their target at the top of the screen. Although the layout of the two games is essentially the same, a few objects were changed to reflect its war theme. Barrels are replaced with cannonballs, and DK himself with a soldier that closely resembles a Nutcracker.
After the game loads, you get to see a nice animation of a soldier shooting a cannonball at the castle (just above the title), and the castle is destroyed to reveal the author. There is also a nice animation after you complete the game's three levels. I don't know whether this animation varies, since I haven't yet completed all three levels more than once.
The game then tells you whether you want to play with either joystick or keyboard. Anyone who is already familiar with Sierra's default keyboard controls will have no problems adjusting. Otherwise, CannonBall Blitz is much easier with joystick, and anyone can figure out what to do. Timing is crucial when it comes to jumping over cannonballs, and if you jump too soon, you will lose one of your lives. Pushing up on the joystick makes the character use ladders. As with most games of its era, CannonBall Blitz gets challenging every time you manage to complete the three levels. Part of the fun is to keep trying to beat your high score.
When it comes to graphics, the only objects worth mentioning are the larger ones. Both the soldier and the cannon on level three is drawn nicely. Nice animations are present of them launching cannonballs. There is a nice little tune just before you make a start on level one. I sometimes question why you don't hear it during the game as well, but since no other game has this, I choose to accept it.
The BadOut of all Sierra's games, CannonBall Blitz is the most difficult, and much of the difficulty involves the levels. On the first level, for instance, instead of ladders you have to deal with seesaws and you must rely on them to hoist you up to the next platform. It can take a while for them to roll toward the seesaw you're standing near, and even if they do come earlier, they will fall on the top of your head (through the hatch above you). And on level three, I found it hard to pinpoint where you will be safe from cannonballs falling on your head as you reach the upper platform.