When Edwin Starr uttered the now infamous line "War, what is it good for?" in his 1969 hit "War" I doubt he'd ever have thought the answer would be "Video Games!" though as we've seen over the years with games like Call of Duty and Medal of Honour War is good for video games. Before the modern First Person Shooters (FPS) based on war was a number of other war games, notably the point and click action games "Cannon Fodder" which was originally released in 1993.
Cannon Fodder sees you, as the player guiding a number of soldiers around various levels and performing a number of tasks such as "Kill all enemies", "Destroy enemy buildings" and "Rescue all hostages". Whilst this was of course a natural game for computers with a mouse the home console versions (including the Mega Drive version) did suffer slightly due to the use of a control giving a slightly limited sense of movement (though it's still very playable on the console).
Whilst the premise of the game is very simple "guide soldiers, do missions" the game is actually very deep and is more of a strategy game than a pure "war" game. You sometimes need to split your troops up to have some troops covering others as they swim through water (your soldiers can't shoot and swim), collect other weapons (notably grenades and rockets) and even take over vehicles, including a tank. The ability to create separate teams of soldiers is an excellent idea and leads to the player having a number of ways to complete missions.
Of course with your men being soldiers they aren't invincible and they can be killed in a number of ways. Obviously being shot by the enemy is going to kill your men, but they can also be killed via friend fire from grenades, the debris from buildings being blown up and also traps in the scenery. Again this adds to the strategy you need to use, for example getting to close to a building before blowing it up will result in your soldiers being caught in the explosion so you need to judge the distance before blowing things up.
Despite the game being almost 20 years old it still has some excellent touches that still make it stand out even in today's gaming world. Every soldier is given a default name (such as Jools, Jops and Stoo, the first 3 soldiers you have at your command) and when one of the soldiers die a tombstone is put up one of the the game screens in a touching little feature to show that every soldier counts. In fact much of the game has a nice little twist on war and doesn't try to take it's self too seriously which adds a memorable charm to the game.
Of course the game looks dated but that's to be expected given it's age. If you can see past the looks and slightly dodgy sounds then this is simply a must play gaming classic. Despite the poor sounds on the Mega Drive the game did have an excellent and memorable theme tune (especially on the Amiga).
Overall it's fair to say that the Mega Drive version wasn't the definitive version of the game due to the lack of a mouse and slightly limited music but it's still an amazing game and one that everyone should play (or at least should have played)
To quote the theme song-"War, Never been so much fun"
Cannon Fodder is a game for the PC. You can still buy the game over a decade or so after it was made and you can also buy the engaging Cannon Fodder Part 2. Both games can be bought on their own or as a package and should cost you about ten pounds for the set.
Cannon Fodder is a point and click game. It is hard to define whether it is a shoot em up, a strategy or a something else altogether, as it encompasses strands from different gaming scenarios to form a whole new gaming concept. In a nutshell, you control an army of soldiers, whose mission is to destroy all enemy present on the screen.
Each new game will load and you must guide your men through jungles, deserts and water based locations using the mouse to guide them. You can break the army up and take one man at a time, or you can bring them all in a group. Each soldier is then capable of firing weapons at the enemy soldiers onscreen. As the games progress, you build artillery and the missions get more complex. I never completed the game because I found it pretty hard mid way in, but it is a real challenge and also enormous fun.
The controls are easy to master after a few attempts and the game is highly addictive. This is partly down the fact that your army are all individual soldiers and have their own names. So if you manage to get a soldier to level twenty and then they get killed on a mission, you will feel genuine remorse at losing them!
The graphics are crisp and bright, the soundtrack is fresh and surprisingly funky and the gameplay is varied throughout, with vehicles, places to hide, mazes and heaps going on to keep the momentum alive. A truly superb game experience and worth the price tag.
Released back in 1993 by sensible software, the team also responsible for the classic Sensible Soccer games, Cannon Fodder is a mouse-driven shoot-em-up in which you control a small squad of soldiers as they fight against numerous enemies through a range of settings including jungle and desert campaigns, employing both machineguns as well as limited supplies of rockets and grenades, which can be used to blow up vehicles and buildings.
The controls couldnt be simpler- one moust button makes your troops fire whilst another makes them move to your selected location, and the gameplay is both incredibly simple and hugely addictive. Your men can only take a single hit before dying, and after each level you are taken to a cemetary screen that becomes slowly filled up with the graves of your dead men as you progress on through the game. There is a real incentive to keep your men alive, both because its hard not to become attached to them and also because thir rates of fire, aiming accuracy and weapon range all increase the longer they survive to be promoted up through the ranks.
The graphics are simplistic but charming in a way that just screams 'Amiga, and the sound effects and midi music are both equally dated, but the gameplay remains as enjoyable as ever and the game is still great fun to play through despite being fifteen years old. Essentially a darkly humorous satire on war, Cannon Fodder is a timeless little pick-up-and-play game that remains great for the odd nostalgic blast.
When I finally get round to writing my "Big Book of Computer Gaming History" one software development company will feature prominently from the late eighties and early nineties period. The simple genius of Parallax, a multi-directional shoot 'em up that was one of the first Commodore 64 games to utilise parallax scrolling, and the off-beat daftness of Wizball would normally be enough to have Chris Yates' and Jon Hare's Sensible Software in any gaming Hall of Fame. But when you consider these are the same chaps that also brought gamers the wonderful pin-stick sprites and superior gameplay of the best footy game ever made - the magnificent Sensible Soccer - you realise these guys should be revered just a little more than the teams of 3-D model designers and programmers working on many an average next generation console game today. And then there's Cannon Fodder. A simple top-down view, point and click shoot 'em up that courted controversy for glorifying war at the time of its release, yet remains a true classic thanks to it's sly, sardonic humour and has left one hell of a legacy in the gaming world at large. Not bad for a couple of blokes that graduated from Dukes nightclub in Chelmsford!
Cannon Fodder puts you in control of a small outfit of troops (up to a maximum of eight) that charge around 2-D backdrops comprising jungle, arctic, desert, underground bunker and even farmland landscapes. Multi-directional scrolling is employed to generate large maps for your little men to wander and investigate as they look to achieve very simple aims; kill all enemy and destroy all buildings are the only orders of the day! Such orders are relatively easy to follow - pointing and left-clicking on your mouse moves your men about, right mouse clicking has them fire in the direction the cursor is pointed, holding both buttons down allows you to throw a grenade. Your troops can be split into teams along with jumping into the odd vehicle as and when necessary, allowing for more strategic and tactical elements to be employed in later missions. For example, the player may have to split their team into two or more groups, leaving one group to defend an area or route, assigning its control to the game's artificial intelligence, while taking control of the other. Each soldier that survives a mission is promoted and receives a small increase in the rate of fire, accuracy, and range. Lose all your men in a mission and the recruits from boot camp will take their place and start the phase again. Run out of recruits and its game over. And that really is all there is to it in this joyously uncomplicated game. You see the enemy, blow the mothers away before they get you!
Such simplicity makes the game instantly hookable. The first mission is merely a static one-screen map with three enemies. All that is required is too shoot and kill these numpties with the two troops provided. Easy! From there, though, once you've found your way comfortably around, the difficulty level increases appropriately and begins to provide a somewhat huge challenge. 25 missions, often sub-divided into various phases (featuring between two to five different map scenarios) with more enemies invading the screen than you care to imagine means you're likely to be participant in bloody carnage well into the dwindling twilight. That the enemy begin to hide in the jungle undergrowth, deploy rocket launchers (which are a bugger for a full squad of men to dodge), utilise more powerful vehicles such as helicopters and tanks, and generally aim better than your average intergalactic stormtrooper, is only the start of such difficulties. With map sizes getting larger and larger, environmental factors such as trip mines, quicksand, oil barrels, debris from exploding buildings and restless natives (including a comedy farmer who shouts "get of my land" before blasting both barrels in your troops direction) needing to be navigated, Cannon Fodder is certainly not as easy as it may first seem. Ideally, this is the Sensible Software way. Games that are easy to pick up and play but require some time and dedication to master, equals instant addictiveness and enduring longevity.
Additionally, as is also the Sensible Software way, Cannon Fodder features that same offbeat humour and enduring quirkiness as seen in previous titles, which helps to keep the gamer fully engrossed. The graphics closely follow the style of those in Sensible Soccer with player sprites charmingly represented by small detailed stick men, which for the Amiga's capabilities work so effectively against the detailed backdrops. Just watching the men skid along the ground after being impaled by a bullet, or launch into the air at a stupidly ridiculous height after failing to avoid a grenade is a delight. The same can be said when a casualty is not killed outright - the 'ow' and 'ahs' as an enemy lay bleeding to death in a fountain of blood can be described as little else than amusing, because of the quality graphical style. Whilst the in-game sound effects are minimal, each mission is preceded by a rousing rock anthem to get you in the mood for a little blood-letting, followed by a foot-stomping happy track once you've completed the carnage successfully. It is in these small details that make Cannon Fodder as refreshing a game as it is to this day.
Still, many would argue that such in-game facets provides a precedent for the glorification of war, yet as the opening titles say with tongue firmly in cheek; Cannon Fodder is in no way endorsed by the Royal British Legion! Neither is it particularly un-PC. The game merely lampoons war and how most governments have historically regarded the men under their command - as little more than cannon fodder! Additionally the mission objectives of kill all enemy, has a delicious sentiment about it of what the underlying meaning of the 'sweep and clear' objective in Vietnam was really all about. The opening song of "War, has never been so much fun" is only really bettered by the home and away styled footy score at the top of the main game page keeping tally of each sides death count. That the page also contrasts boot hill, which slowly fills with the mass graves of your dead men, and the recruits lining up on a pathway around the hill to recruit into your service, is blackly comic genius. Yes, Cannon Fodder is fairly subversive, but it's this carnival of silliness that gets across a simple message of war being an utter waste of life. Better to play a seriously fun computer game simulating such an event rather than being an active and exploited participant. (See, you really can learn things from computer games!)
The quality of Cannon Fodder is self-evident in that even after 15 years since its original release, a PSP version is still in the making. The demand shouldn't be surprising either, as the legacy of Cannon Fodder lives on in pretty much every real-time-strategy game that has followed since. Command and Conquer owes much to the simplicity of Cannon Fodder, as it does to the more difficult concepts of Populous. Sure, some of the missions are tougher than vindalooed mutton, to the extent that you begin to sob as your new recruits become the literal 'cannon fodder' to ensure progress. Yet there's enough in the style of the game to keep you engrossed and willing to progress despite your men being turned into mince-meat. Indeed, there are few other war games that are likely to be as silly that's for sure, and with the key concept of fun overriding the more strategic sensibilities, Cannon Fodder is easily one of the most enjoyable games ever made for the Amiga. It's still well worth investigating, especially if you're bored of overly complex, soulless real-time strategy games - Cannon Fodder relives what the good old days used to be like. Highly recommended!
Overall - War has never been so much fun! That's the damn truth...
Availability - The Amiga is an old computer with Cannon Fodder being released way back in 1993 (at the retail price of £29.99! Bonkers!) and is therefore unavailable unless you try a couple of specialist Amiga shops online. E-bay seems like your best bet.
However, you may wish to get an Amiga emulator and the Cannon Fodder ADF disk image online. Essentially the emulator will recreate an Amiga on your PC, which is almost like the best thing ever. To get the WinUAE Amiga emulator, you can download it for free from the official site:
The Cannon Fodder ADF disk image however, is stuck in the middle of legal issues. Yes, the game has been deleted for more than a while, yet the copyright still belongs to Sensible Software (or Virgin who published the game), whom, as yet, have not relinquished it. Therefore, you can only download the ADF disk image of Cannon Fodder if you still hold the original game for the Amiga, otherwise you're in breach of copyright (read as - you're downloading it illegally). Therefore, I can't direct you to a website that holds the ADF for downloading.
They say the classics are the best and in the case of this game that is certainly true. Cannon Fodder was to the best of my knowledge first released on the Amiga in 1992. At that time I paid the princely sume of £29.99 for it (then published by Virgin). It was and still is a great game. The basic principle for the player is through point and clicking (left to point to where to move and right to fire, both to use special weapons) to lead a squad of soldiers through the jungle and carry out whatever the set mission is. The soldiers are amusingly named (I believe) after staff on the in-house team responsible for its creation. It is most amusing how attatched you can get to a particular little guy as you lead him through mission after mission and he gets promoted to a high rank. With each successive mission they get promoted and improve equivalently in capability, 4* general (if you can keep em alive that long) is the highest and you get em at private. The main screen has a score board showing the number of deaths as a score home (you) vs away (enemy) and has a large green hill with a gravestone on for each man you lose. As the game proceeds you will get access to grenades and rocket launchers as well as the ever amusing Hum vee. I was stuck on the level where you have to get the hum vee over a successive of jumps for weeks. Now available on the PC at a mere £4.99 on sold out softwares label this game is a must buy as a major time distracter when you should be working. My degree may be off down the swanny but I WILL win the war!
This has got to be one of the Amiga's all time classic games. Cannon Fodder is just like Lemmings except they are men, they are at war and best of all they've got weapons. This game is a point and click game. You control your little men with the mouse and make them shoot the opposition with the right mouse button. You have to get through a number of missions (I don't know how many cause I never completed it) and each mission gets progressively harder but the choice of weapons gets larger. In the levels I got up to you could use a gun, Hand grenades, A rocket launcher and a tank. There will probably be more than that but like I said, I haven't got that far. The sound and graphics on this game are really good. I can remember the first time I heard the intro song "War has never been so much fun" - I was absolutely blown away as I'd never seen anything like it. The graphics are pretty good too but you can't put that much detail into Lemming sized little men can you? The levels are graphically good though. This is really good game and if you've never played it you've missed out on a classic.
Cannon Fodder is, quite simply, one of the most playable and addictive games I ever played on the Amiga. From the cartoony-yet-realistic feel of the graphics to the extremely intuitive control system, even the way sounds fade in and out according to how close you are to their source - everything was put together incredibly well and shows how much thought went into the game. The premise of the game is that you guide your litte troop of soldiers through a series of increasingly tricky missions: in the jungle, arctic and desert, among other locations, picking up weapons, jumping into all kinds of vehicles, and of course blowing up the blue (enemy) guys at every opportunity. Things can get incredibly complex as you send half your troop off to go and bagsie a skidoo, while the others sneak up on the enemy and bazooka them to smithereens, but there's always a nice sense of satisfaction when you accomplish your little mission. This pride is sadly often tinged by the loss of one or more of your troop members. All the soldiers have names (despite looking almost identical), and gain rank for completing missions successfully. It really is heartbreaking to suddenly lose an original team member (probably because you walked them over a mine or something equally stupid) and see their gravestone appear on the game's "Boot Hill". The sadness is not diminished by the fact that the game's authors were evidently running out of names as they got further down the list of soldiers, and replacements for Colonel Bob and Lieutenant Steve might have names like Prawn and Cheese. As the missions get harder, you get better and better weaponry and vehicles. The first time you use the bazooka, you find yourself grinning inanely... until bits of whatever you blew up land on one of your guys. You soon learn where to stand. The helicopter is tricky but satisfying once you master it, and the skidoo is damn good fun, although it has a lethal ability to
skid out of control and kill your entire troop by sinking in the icy waters of the Arctic. In fact, the learning curve is never too steep with this game, which is one of its main strengths - there's usually chance to practice with new firepower or wheels in a non-critical situation, and by the time you come to rely on it, you've got it sussed. The levels get gradually craftier as well, with more and more hidden snipers, near-invisible mines, and booby traps disguised as baby seals, among other things. Gore is everywhere, as you would expect in a game like this. You often have to shoot bad guys twice, as they sometimes lie writhing on the ground, bleeding and going "argh" after one shot. This can apply to your own team members too. Dead guys in the river float downstream, which is a particularly, um, realistic touch. This sort of thing got the game much bad publicity when it was released, such as claims of glorifying war, and there was some hoo-ha with the Royal British Legion over the use of a poppy. However, I don't want to get into that whole debate - Cannon Fodder is a damn fine, fun, addictive game, and that's really all I care about.