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Sunday, July 31, 2005

Cannon Fodder

Cannon Fodder was a short run of war video games developed by Sensible Software, a mix of both real-time strategy and action games. The first version of the game was made for Amiga but it was later converted for many other formats. The gameplay is much better when a player uses mouse instead of gamepad (as with Megadrive conversion). Only two games in the series were released, but spawned through most active systems at the time of the release. The series have a clear humourous line, and soldiers are seen as mere cannon fodder. The pre-mission screen shows a hill with a grave for each dead soldier, with recruits lining up in front of it. On top of the screen, a sports-like score appears. The tag line for the first game was "War has never been so much fun", and for the second (with a more sci-fi background, which included some alien missions) "War has only been this fun once before". The first Cannon Fodder game is widely considered as a video game classic (especially the original Amiga version that contains a humorous title song with lyrics) while the second game, Cannon Fodder 2, was complained to have a too high difficulty level hampering its gameplay (though also the first game gave lots of gray hairs for gamers).

1 Overview
2 Corn Poppy controversy
3 Pacifism vs. Warmongering
4 References
5 External links

In both games the player is in charge of a commando team of from one to eight elements that can be broken up to three groups. All units have a machine gun with unlimited ammo, but grenades and rockets can be found on the location. The players' machine guns do not harm its units, but grenades and rockets do, and are the only weapons capable of destroying a building (they may be shot while in the crate). Player units can also die if hit by debris caused by building explosions, hit man-traps, quicksand, and obviously, enemy fire. Units usually walk on foot, but several vehicles are available in some missions. The games are split in several missions, which are usually split into phases. Dead soldiers are replaced by "fresh meat" at the start of each phase. Each soldier that survives a mission is promoted, and receives small increases in rate of fire, accuracy, and range.

Corn Poppy controversy

Title Screen with the poppyThe corn poppy, used by World War II veterans, was also used as the logo for the game. The Royal British Legion reacted strongly against the usage of the Remembrance Day poppy, since it could induce buyers in error, believing the game was endorsed by them. Virgin removed the poppy from the box, but it remains in the title screen. Later versions of the game had a tongue-in-cheek opening screen that read "Sensible Software is not affiliated with the Royal British Legion".

Pacifism vs. Warmongering
The game was also criticised by the media for what was then considered excessive violence and glorification of war. While the violence, quite tame by modern standards but still rather gratuitous (it is possible to wound a soldier so that he bleeds to death while screaming in agony, until he is shot again or finally dies of blood loss), is clear, the claims that the game glorifies war are ironic - the game itself is a satire on war and those that revel in war, and makes numerous statements to this effect, including in the title song (with phrases such as War has never been so much fun), the poppy, and the queue of recruits signing up to enlist next to the hill full of gravestones of deceased soldiers. Each soldier has a name, and when one dies, the player is reminded of the casualties by name at the end of the level.

Darwinia makes a reference to Cannon Fodder's intro with a bootloader which simply reads "This game is not in any way endorsed by SENSIBLE SOFTWARE"

External links
Poppy controversy
Cannon Fodder Amiga version info page
Cannon Fodder 2 Amiga version info page

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