What is it about ragdoll physics that fascinates us so? I won’t pretend to know the answer, but I have my suspicions. I think the thrill we get from ragdoll games is born from watching the impossible become possible.
Think about it for a moment. Having lived in our bodies our entire lives, we know our immediate limitations even if not so immediate limitations elude us. Sure, that sixteen ounce porterhouse may not seem like a big deal, but we KNOW we can’t do the splits unless we adopt a frequent stretching regiment that prepares our bodies to do so. We know that dropping off of a tall building will not bode well for us, and we know that being able to stick our feet behind our heads is something you have to work at.
Thus, participating in games that employ some variation of the ragdoll theme is not unlike watching a martial arts movie, or gymnastics. It’s the act of watching the basic raw human form perform things we know to be impossible, or at least highly improbable.
Of course, it could also be just a morbid desire to watch bodies get completely obliterated in new and fantastic ways.
You be the judge.
When it comes to ragdoll games, however, the spectrum ranges from the very poor (of which I could find many) to the very good, (Toribash comes to mind–a game that has yet to be featured here, but will be some day).
On that scale, the Ragdoll Cannon games most definitely finds their way on the upper end of the spectrum. This is primarily because these games use the ragdoll effect not as an end so much as merely a means; a slight tweak of a relatively simple concept which adds both aesthetic and mechanical nuances.
We get the cheap thrill of watching a human figure get launched all about the screen to pile up in shattered remains, or haphazardly trickle through a series of obstacles like a ball in a Pachinko machine. But we also get the added benefit of having to adjust for the gangling form when we approach how to solve each puzzle put before us. To maximize your efficiency, you have to take into account how a flailing limb here or there may impede threading your ragdoll through a tiny hole in order to reach a goal.
As difficult a task as it may seem, Ragdoll Cannon 2 seeks to build considerably upon the old formula which made the original a hit. To this extent the most noticeable change would have to be presentation. In Ragdoll Cannon and Ragdoll Cannon 1.5 the visual theme centered around sketches on crumpled up paper. The old blue-line doodles are replaced with little wooden matchsticks with a far more realistic appearance.
But you’ll find there are more differences under the hood. For one there are far more levels, 70 to be exact, far outstripping the original and the pseudo sequel. Also, your little matchstick men can be hurled into obstacles which are capable of destroying them which encourages you even more to actually think your way through a level as opposed to just blindly shooting off until you thankfully recieve the “next level” flag.
The puzzles, at least to me, are trickier, but happily the physics are virtually untouched making this game as fun, if not more, than the original.