Video Game: Cannon Fodder
This game is not in any way
endorsed by the
ROYAL BRITISH LEGION
Never been so much fun!
Never been so much fun!
Never been so much fun!
Never been so much fun!
Go to your brother
Kill him with your gun
Leave him lying in his uniform
Dying in the sun!
A video game from Sensible Software
, in which the player commands between 1 and 8 soldiers on a series of missions like "kill all enemies." It is remembered for attempting to avert Do Not Do This Cool Thing
— your soldiers die horribly and in droves, each adding a tombstone to the pre-mission screen, and the game manual openly states
that "war is a senseless waste of lives and resources."
An impressive Game Boy Color port, with entirely recorded audio and FMV-based menus, was released at the end of the 20th century.
In January 2010, Codemasters
(which acquired Sensible Software in 1999) announced licensing third game
to be made by Russian developer GFI for PC and Xbox 360. It was released in different parts of the world in 2011-2.
The original game and its sequel are available for download on Good Old Games here
Cannon Fodder contains examples of:
- Arbitrary Headcount Limit
- Banana Republic: The enemy leader is "El Presidente", a dictator of a fictitious South American Country whose name is never mentioned.
- Black Comedy: The "Home/Away" scoreboard above Boot Hill.
- Cannon Fodder: Of course. They're also essentially Player Mooks, and when freshly recruited they're New Meat.
- Death from Above: Helicopters and those fucking roofs.
- The Dead Have Names: And they're listed at the end of every mission.
- Deconstructor Fleet: Targeting most of the Military and Warfare Tropes.
- Difficulty Spike: In the original game, Level Eight Phase Two is notorious for being much harder than anything before. (You have to clear a map of snipers before taking control of a gun turret to destroy several armoured bunkers, all the while being attacked by ever-increasing numbers of enemy soldiers who are much more aggressive than in previous levels, and capable of blowing up the turret itself and making the phase unwinnable.) Even judged retrospectively, it's one of the hardest phases in the whole game.
- Do Not Do This Cool Thing: This game was an experiment to see if it was possible to avert this in regards to war. But it ends up as a fun, challenging, yet unique game that enjoyed until today.
- Desolation Shot: The whole game.
- Escort Mission: A couple. They're less irritating than usual, though, as you usually have the chance to clear the map of threats before you start the civilian/prisoner moving.
- Excuse Plot: Utterly straight in the original - they tried to make a bit more plot for the sequel.
- Family-Unfriendly Violence: For which it was banned in Germany. To be fair, it's fairly Gornographic to watch your soldiers bleeding to death in agony.
- Friendly Fireproof: With guns and only guns — grenades and rockets can kill your soldiers. You also have the option of giving your own soldiers a Mercy Kill when they're mortally wounded and groaning. Also, it's possible to trick enemy turrets and vehicles into firing on their own side, and in some phases this is the only way to destroy certain targets.
- Game-Breaking Bug: Not totally game-breaking, but certain levels on the PC version are made far more difficult by a porting bug where enemy helicopters (that in other versions can be destroyed on their helipad shortly after the level begins if you know where they are) instantly take off and start attacking your soldiers. There are also occasional problems where helicopters constantly hover over inaccessible areas making levels unwinnable.
- Grotesque Cute
- Hair-Trigger Explosive: Grenade crates or bundles of rockets will explode if you shoot them. This is occasionally useful, but usually a waste of explosives and a hazard to your troops.
- Infinite Ammo: All except your soldier's grenades and rockets; running out when you had to blow up a bunker/hut could make a level unwinnable.
- Kill 'em All: Well, your playing determines who survives, but a typical player loses 200 soldiers (out of 300). The scoreboard on Boot Hill will show that you take out a lot more than that, though.
- Lyrical Dissonance:The main theme has a very cheerful and energetic tone to the music and singing, and yet the chorus goes "WAR! Never been so much fun! Go to your brother, Kill him with your gun, Leave him lying in his uniform Dying in the sun!". This is in keeping with the games satire of the futility of war.
- Made of Explodium: Just about anything sent flying by an explosion with explode when it hits the ground. Roofs. Snowmen (OK, maybe they're boobytrapped). Trees?
- The Man Behind the Curtain: The penultimate phase of the first game orders you to capture the enemy leader. He turns out to be a big-brained but powerless mad scientist who, once you've destroyed the anti-aircraft guns guarding him, gets meekly into your helicopter without making any attempt to shoot you or run. The allegedly-neutral civilians you have to escort in some phases are less co-operative and more of a threat to your troops!
- Mercy Kill: An option for bleeding soldiers.
- Mood Dissonance: This is basically the video game equivalent to Erfworld.
- More Dakka: The machine guns are nice, and the Amiga version makes them sound meaty, but nothing compares to the later missions when you get your hands on rocket-firing helis. AHAHAHAHAHAAA!
- National Stereotypes: All the civilians are cartoon stereotypes: grass-skirted "natives" in the jungle levels, Inuit in the ice levels, Banditos in the desert leves, stereotypical shotgun-wielding farmers (one phase is even called "Get Orff Moi Laaand!") in the moorland levels, and robed Arabs, for some reason, in the tunnel base levels.
- Nintendo Hard: The second game is significantly harder than the first, although Stoo did a lot to try and smooth the difficulty curve (the first suffers from an infamous spike at the second phase of level eight).
- Player Mooks: The title soldiers, except they have names, and they're all so damn cute...
- The Poppy: Its use on the game's box art was a source of controversy (see Serious Business).
- Quicksand Sucks
- Recycled In Space: Cannon Fodder 2 has you fighting aliens.
- RPG Elements: Soldiers who survive a mission are "promoted," essentially levelling up.
- Save Point: At the end of every mission.
- Schizophrenic Difficulty: After the Mission Eight difficulty spike, the first game stays at about the same level of average difficulty with isolated fearsomely-hard phases dropped in at random. 12:6, 14:2, 19:1, and 22:2-4.
- Self-Insert Fic: The first four soldiers are named after the development team.
- Serious Business: "Make sure you do not buy this shameful game," said the British newspaper The Daily Star. The reason? It has a corn poppy on the opening screen, and it didn't get official permission from the Royal British Legion, which uses a corn poppy as a symbol of remembrance for World War One. The game thus carries a disclaimer, "This game is not endorsed by the Royal British Legion".
"I thought it'd be interesting to relate the story of Sensible Software's classic Cannon Fodder, and how it was rewarded for taking perhaps the most sensitive and mature attitude ever to war and death in a videogame by being vilified across the tabloid press, threatened, injuncted and censored (all in the name of "freedom") by the very people who the game's name was a sincere tribute to and commemoration of."—Stoo
- Shout-Out: Each and every single level and sublevel name. The original Stoo's website has a thorough documentation of the lot for the sequel.
- Time Travel: Cannon Fodder 2 uses this a lot, mostly to make palette swapped new environments.
- Timed Mission: Mission 22 phase 3 requires you to beat an enemy vehicle to a civilian village before the enemy start killing people. The final phase of the final mission has a straight time limit.
- Vapor Ware: Codemasters planned to remake this game for the Playstation Portable, but reconsidered. The third game in the series was repeatedly begun and cancelled.
- Video Game Caring Potential: Each soldier has a name, and players often become quite attached to individual soldiers, trying to keep them alive as long as possible. It helps/hurts that at the end of each mission you're reminded of the names of the soldiers who died.
- Video Game Cruelty Potential: Of course if you're a really sick and twisted bastard then the above will probably go overlooked in favour of deliberately setting off explosions while members of your squad are close enough to be taken out as well. And then of course there's the option of not dispensing a Mercy Killing to a mortally wounded comrade and just watching him bleed out instead. Ahahahahaa! Jools bleeds good!
- War Has Never Been So Much Fun: Trope Namer, but doesn't quite fit it, being more a case of Grotesque Cute. Incidentally, Cannon Fodder 2 changes it to "War has only been this much fun once before."
- War Is Hell: For all its Grotesque Cute visuals and Black Comedy, Cannon Fodder, being a satire, bears a very strong anti-war message.
- A Winner Is You: You don't even get a final "Home:Away" score!