Grow Cannon

Flash Forward covers the vanguard of games you can play in your browser RIGHT NOW. This week we look at some 2011 highlights for the holiday comedown.

The offspring of a Salvador Dalí painting and a Studio Ghibli film, Grow Cannon is a strange and wonderful outsider game. Like all of the games in the Grow series, it starts with the basic tenets of raising a Tamagotchi kitten and spins them into nitrous-fueled dream-cartoons. Nothing you do in them makes sense. 

Case in point: In Grow Cannon, the premise is to wake up a kid who has smashed his alarm clock with a giant hammer. You do this by shooting a cannon at various objects so they can get bigger and then pound on him. Confused? So am I. Shooting a patch of dirt lays tracks for a steam-powered train. Shooting another patch of dirt causes a plant to grow, which will feed a baby dragon if you shoot into the pool of water beside it. If you first shoot the switch that changes day to night, then feed him, he will level up, allowing him to charbroil the kid. This is not how leveling up is supposed to work!

It’s kind of like breeding Pokémon, while the factors and conditions that determine their growth affect one another in unpredictable ways. When you put things in perfect alignment, out pops a max-level Charizard; i.e., you wake up the kid. If you wanted to get technical, you could claim that you are dumping skill points into stats in a precise and exact order. Except your ability to analyze graphs does you little good here, because everything is bonkers. 

Once you run out of bullets, you hold your breath and watch as your surreal creations march on this narcoleptic kid, trying to drain a meter propped above his head, but I’ll be damned if I’ve ever seen them get it lower than the halfway mark. The kid sleeps through it all: being trampled by oversized skeletal feet, walloped by buck-toothed imps with lightning rods, and steamrolled by juiced-up trains. Yes, this is a virtual pet for crazy people.