Ignore for just a few minutes the fact that there’s an already admittedly excellent stripped down Flash version of DICE’s Mirror’s Edge, because Canabalt — the just-released Experimental Gameplay entry from Fathom and Flixel creator Adam ‘Atomic‘ Saltsman and musician DannyB — strips that down even further, and better.
Consider it, maybe, the souped-up Tiger/Game & Watch LCD version of Mirror’s Edge, then: you have one goal, and one button, and the goal is to run, and the button is jump, and the game comes from simply maintaining breakneck momentum as you leap from rooftop to randomly generated rooftop.
Saltsman is an unabashed devotee of the Hollywood action flick, and the fact that his last recommendation was Peter O’Toole film The Stunt Man seemed somehow appropriate the instant you take your first dive through the game’s opening breakaway window. And then he moves on to John Woo, scattering a flock of doves skyward as you leap to the next roof, and then like take your pick from any sci-fi action/disaster as the first crashing alien ship rumbles past the screen, or you first notice the megalithic monsters trampling the far background.
For a five-day start-to-stop development it’s exceedingly confident and exceptionally accomplished: in keeping with the Experimental Gameplay’s ‘bare minimum’ theme, there’s a laundry list of things Saltsman could’ve added (I’m still not sure what my high score is from the 30-40 playthroughs today — I’m too busy compulsively slamming the retry button to take the half second to notice), but nothing he could have taken away, and it’s going to be quite some time before you find something so simple so thrilling again.