A racing game called Cannonball? That’s what I thought, too. Burt Reynolds, Dean Martin, Jackie Chan, Sammy Davis Jr, Farrah Fawcett and… him! Dun dun duuur!
But that’s not what this game is about. At least, not directly. It appears to be based on a real-life race taking place across Europe, which presumably has to be inspired by the classic movie from 1981.
But the mobile game of the race of the movie attempts to add in some of the salacious characters and underhanded, comic dealings of the Dom DeLuise original, taking the Cannonball event full circle.
You can choose from one of five characters, each with their own particular skill set beyond that of driving fast. Some are good with engines, others can hustle, some are quick with map reading.
The racing skills come from you, though. Cannonball 8000 is undeniably slick and smooth, with plenty of traffic on the busy streets of Europe to give you lots of metal to weave your way around. It’s nothing ground-breaking from a technological point of view, however.
But that doesn’t seem to be the game’s remit. Instead, it adds in subtle quirks, such as bringing a police chase into play if you bump too many cars or drive down the wrong side of the road (bear in mind when racing through London the game designer has decided that we drive on the right in the UK – hmm).
Grabbing fuel as you attempt to beat the other cannonballers to the finish line is also quite tricky, and gives you reason to pay close attention to the otherwise sparse environments.
Between races you take the opportunity to enact nefarious machinations upon your opposition in four mini-games. These include chugging energy drinks (surreal, but it works), card hustling, and a mini-map game that crosses draughts with Tron light cycles.
While it could use a little more vinegar to really capture the spirit of the fictional, illicit transcontinental race of the movies, Cannonball 8000 offers a unique perspective on city driving, and is light-hearted enough to make it easy to forgive its transgressions.