Ragdoll Cannon 2
Ragdoll Cannon 2 is, rather logically, the sequel to Ragdoll Cannon (as teased by the release of Ragdoll Cannon 1.5). That's some no-nonsense naming, there. What designer Johnny_K might lack in titling, however, he more than compensates for in gameplay.
The core concept is familiar to fans of the prior offerings: using high-powered artillery, fire a hapless stickman across an obstacle-ridden course and strike a small target. It's like a three-ring circus combined with an archery range.
This time around, the "HERE!" block has been replaced by a much clearer bullseye target, and the cannon has been given a visual upgrade; in fact, everything's a bit more shiny. Johnny_K has abandoned his prior blueprint style in favor of three different themes: matchsticks, pastels, and skeletons. Each theme takes hold for twenty levels before yielding to the next, and converging together for the final ten.
For those of you who could never work out that it's pi r squared, not pie are delicious, that's seventy levels available to you in this go-around. You'll start off with simple shots, but things'll quickly ramp up, and you'll find yourself trying to work out complicated trajectories in your head.
Adding to the complications are specialized blocks. Now, there's no term given in-game for these blocks, so I shall coin one: "burn bricks." Ooh, or "murder mortars." OH! No, wait, "stick snapping stones!" I like that; very descriptive.
These stick snapping stones are marked with an X (crossed matchsticks, a skull and bones, or crossed bones). If your stickman touches one of these, the part that connected with the brick gets "burned" and falls off the main stickman. Only live stickman parts can touch the target to advance, so these blocks will be your enemy at times (although, interestingly, a puzzle will occasionally rely upon using these blocks effectively).
"That's all well and good," I hear you saying, "but all this is going over my head! All I know about physics is that Coldplay invented the speed of sound!" Well, you strugglers of the sciences, take heart: the game is somewhat forgiving. The golf-style scoring encourages conservation, but allows as many shots as you need to succeed. A reset button allows you to start each level over without penalty to your score. By the tenth level, you'll have snagged the general idea (or gone crazy trying).
Analysis: If you liked the first game, you'll love this. Well, love's a strong word. Let's not charge into this. How about we go on a few more dates with Ragdoll Cannon 2 and see how it goes, yeah?
Look, the extra levels are more than welcome, but some of them are excruciatingly difficult. A small yet non-zero handful of levels tend to devolve into pixel hunting. If you like pixel hunting, you're set (and also a little strange), but for the rest of us, it's a bit frustrating. These levels are few and far between, thankfully.
And if you loved the original blueprint style like I did... well, the new graphics are disappointing. The graph paper of the original reminded me of my AP Calculus days, doodling in the margins while waiting for the next differential. The new style makes it more in line with your standard casual game's scheme: colorful, but not very distinctive. The new themes aren't bad, but they're just not as good. (Although the mish-mash of visual styles in the last ten levels? Bleh.)
If you can get past the occasional level and the disappointing graphics, you've got a lot of good stuff here. This game will test your mind and your skill. With cannons. And let's face it, that's awesome.