Something that can be generally used for target practice of a weapon of mass destruction. In Quake and other such games, the newbie or person with the slow connection. In Star Trek, a character wearing a different colored uniform. See also, shooting fish from a barrel.

Title: Cannon Fodder
Author: Sensible Software
Released: 1992
No. of disks: 3
HDD installable: No
Lanuages: English
RAM: 1meg required

Overhead troop based warfare with tiny sprites set in World War something. Your god-like hand (well, arrow pointer) couldn't directly control the grunts but can tell them to "go here" or "shoot that". In many ways, a mouse driven gauntlet. Enemy production houses should be taken out quickly before you get swamped. Simple, and overwhelmingly good fun.

An accurate wargame in that there were no Rambos and a stray might just swipe Harry or Smithy down. At first, this seems merely irritating - later you'll be cursing at the vile bastard who killed your friend and decide to make an example of him. Your crack team of four charged through the encampment, guns blazing, and where you had last seen him - there the bloody murdered was. We furiously unloaded on him, but we're crap shots, so he was only nicked, thrown back, and lay on the ground bleeding and screaming. A twisted bloody mangle of spurting rithing muscles.

Never was I more swiftly reduced to tears than this day.

Cannon Fodder Theme

The Cannon Fodder Furore

March 1992 Interview with Jon Hare

    "Lemmings with guns?"

    "Well, that's sort of what it's like, though when you first look at it you'll probably be reminded more of MegaloMania. It's a kind of strategy game, with little groups of people running around the map - it's much more tightly focussed in on a small group of people than Mega lo Mania, and the structure of the game actually comes across as more a sort of Paintball thing, with little groups of men running around the landscape trying to get at each other. The Lemmings connection comes from the fact that you don't control your men directly, but must tell them what to do and then watch them do it - whether they live or die can come down to whether you gave them decent instructions in the first place."

Cannon Fodder was not a "mouse-driven Gauntlet", nor was it "Lemmings with guns". It was a mouse-controlled mission-based shoot-'em-up for the Amiga (which was later ported to every format under the sun).

Cannon Fodder was aptly titled, as your little squaddies (you could have four under your control at a time) were very expendable. However, it was possibly one of the most thoughtful shooting games ever made: each of your men had a name and rank, and after each mission you inducted new recruits from a queue that stretched off into the distance. The hills would slowly be dotted with white crosses as more of your men died. After each mission your surviving men would be promoted.

The tabloid press, being very stupid, tried to stir up some outrage towards the game (which featured the Poppy emblem of the Royal British Legion prominently), and towards the magazine Amiga Power (both Sensible Software and Amiga Power had a certain Stuart Campbell on staff, who even features as one of the first soldiers - Stoo - to get mown down in the game). The R.B.L. mounted a characteristically feable legal battle against the game.

While this notoriety is largely forgotten, one other aspect of Cannon Fodder remains timeless: the excellent theme tune. I have reprinted the main bit of the lyrics below, as holloway makes a bit of a hash of it* in the Cannon Fodder Theme node. (The sequel's theme tune was even better.)

WAR! - never been so much fun
WAR! - never been so much fun
WAR! - never been so much fun
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

*OK, so he didn't really, but I love the song and I'm not going to let a little detail like the fact that it's been noded already get in my way. War is hell.

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