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Video Game / Canabalt

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Start your daring escape.

You're the fastest man alive and the world is out to get you.

Canabalt is a 2D Side Scrolling arcade game that was created by Adam Atomic and Danny B in 2009. You play as a man who, immediately after the game begins, runs down a hallway and leaps through a glass window into open air. If that wasn't enough, he goes on to run across rooftops and jump through other buildings at ever increasing speeds until he finally meets his demise. It's never said exactly what he's running from, but the falling missiles and the giant bipedal shapes in the distance provide some clues.

It is found here. There are also versions for various other platforms such as the iPhone, Android systems, and the PS Vita, each with a few additional features, including alternate soundtracks.

Part of the beauty of the game is the simplicity of the controls: there is one button, press it to jump. You can't control the direction you run in or the speed you run, you always run right and contantly gain speed unless you run into something to slow you down. And unless you do manage to slow yourself down your speed will become so high that reacting to the jumps will become impossible.

The simple controls makes it very suitable for playing on phones or tablets. There are many imitators of the basic idea (run right while constantly accelerating, use one button to jump). Such imitators tend to add more features since the core gameplay is as basic as possible.

If you are wondering how this could be any more awesome, check out Robot Unicorn Attack, which is a prettied up version.


  • Badass in a Nice Suit: The protagonist. Despite suits not being made for mobility, he can still run at the speed of an Olympic sprinter and smash through windows with no problem.
  • Benevolent Architecture: The buildings are always spaced close enough together that you can jump from one to the next at whatever speed you happen to be going, unless you get slowed down by an obstacle or land on a damaged building that's too long for you to run across before it completely collapses.
  • Bomb Whistle: There's a loud clunk announcing an approach of a bomb on the next building, followed by the sound made as the bomb lands on the roof right ahead of you. Although for some reason, it kinda sounds like a motorcycle.
  • Camera Abuse: The screen shakes when buildings collapse, a ship flies by, or the bombs land or explode.
  • Casual Video Game: The ease at which the game can be learnt, and can be picked up and put down is a great part of its charm.
  • Conveniently Empty Building: In the iPod version of this game, an additional obstacle is added in. After a one-building warning noise sounding like metal crumpling, this gargantuan thing crashes down through and completely obliterates the next building you were going for! Only a small platform remains.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The whole game is in monochrome as part of its futuristic and dark aesthetic.
  • Disturbed Doves: Many roofs have birds on them that take off when the agent passes.
  • Endless Game: Keep running, little man.
  • Energy Weapon: A cone-shaped laser will be fired from the mechs occasionally. Just don't miss a jump looking for it.
  • Excuse Plot: In the background Humongous Mecha stomp between ruined buildings, stopping to zap things out of sight. Closer by, futuristic craft roar past you and occasionally a missile will land in your path, wherever it is you're supposed to be going. Whatever's going on, it's a bad day. The Kongregate version describes the plor as "Outrun the demolition of your city with just one button!", and Achievements in the Android port mention such things as the Mothership, the Dark Tower, and a Walker, but there's still not much to go on by.
  • Have a Nice Death:
    • When you finally stop running, the GAME OVER screen will tell you how far you got and what took you out. For example:
    You ran 3604m before hitting a wall and tumbling to your death.
    • Run into a bomb and the message will be:
    You ran 2509m before turning into a fine mist.
    • The iPhone port features even more messages for various situations, most of them snarky. For example:
      You ran 102m before barely stumbling out of the first hallway.
      You ran 3780m before riding a falling building all the way down.
      You ran 4510m before knocking a building down.
      You ran 2287m before somehow hitting the side of a billboard.
      You ran 1807m before somehow managing to hit the edge of an I-beam.
  • Humongous Mecha: One of the few hints of what's actually happening is that giant robots are roaming in the background, firing lasers at things you can't see.
  • In a Single Bound: As always, your jumping prowess is inhuman. The trope is name-dropped as an Achievement in the Android port.
  • Inertia Is a Cruel Mistress: It is possible to build up so much speed that it becomes impossible to react in time. In some cases, it's actually a good idea to run into the cardboard box... things, which will slow you down. Just don't do it right before the edge of a building, or you won't be able to rebuild enough speed to make the jump.
  • I Meant to Do That: Invoked, as mentioned above, you have to intentionally trip over stuff to slow your momentum down to manageable levels.
  • Randomly Generated Levels: The buildings are pre-designed, and generated as you go.
  • Roof Hopping: The entire game consists of jumping from rooftop to rooftop, occasionally smashing through windows and running across a floor of a building before returning to the roofs.
  • Scenery Gorn: Columns of smoke rise into the sky and the buildings silhouetted in the background have chunks missing out of them.
  • Shout-Out:
    • If you look close enough, the Humongous Mecha in the background look an awful lot like giant BigDogs.
    • The remastered version of the game includes randomly-selected character skins. One of them is a woman in a black tank-top and white pants, bearing a close resemblance to Faith from Mirror's Edge.
  • Soft Glass: The windows shatter spectacularly, but they don't even slow the man down.
  • Super Window Jump: You start the game by jumping through a window, and randomly smash through another window for a rare indoor section.
  • Temporary Platform: The buildings with cracks all over them. (Though, to tell the truth, all platforms in this game are 'temporary', it's just that they sometimes fall downwards, not only to the left.)

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