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'Canabalt HD' for Android adds new levels, two-player competition, and a female runner

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Canabalt has remained one of the original and most enduring endless running games — it's even ended up in the Museum of Modern Art. Today, it's making a significant shift, as Canabalt HD is overhauled on Android. A recent update has added a series of new levels, which keep the basic principles of one-button running and jumping but vary the environment or how your character moves: in one, you'll find all your running surfaces have turned invisible, and you'll need to move around by gauging where birds have landed. Beyond that, there's also a new two-player mode that lets you and a friend compete by tapping opposite sides of the screen; that's not ideal for a phone, but a tablet may work better.

Two-player Canabalt has existed for some time on a few arcade cabinets, and the Ouya version of Canabalt includes it, but this is the first time we've seen the option on mobile, where most people will play the game. There's also a small but hitherto-never-seen addition: a female player character. When you start the game, you'll get randomly assigned a male or female model, designated mostly by hair length. There's been a lot of discussion about female player characters or the lack thereof in games, and making a simple swap that people will see frequently is a pretty good way to add gender parity.

On the one hand, these means that Canabalt HD is no longer quite the bare-bones runner we've come to love. On the other, after you spend a certain number of hours hurtling towards your inevitable death, you start to hope for a little more to explore. The update is available on Google Play; we haven't yet seen any sign that it's coming to the non-HD iOS version.