I Said Launchy, Not Raunchy
As a rule of thumb these days, cannons really don't have any place in everyday life unless you're at a museum or attending a pretty high-budget, low safety circus-like event. Cannons aren't completely useless to the modern-day go-getter who simply loves shooting a good cannon but doesn't have that much time or money to do so on an actual, real-life basis: Ragdoll Cannon 3's got you covered. Far from utilising a cannon in the violent, warfare-based way that they were meant to be used, Ragdoll Cannon 3 allows you to shoot tiny ragdolls from the cannon on the screen in order to hit a designated target that is placed in increasingly more obscure places on the screen. What starts off as a puzzle game split into individual levels involving merely aiming and firing in the correct direction and with the correct power progresses into a considerably challenging test of your problem-solving skills and solution-finding ability, provided the solution involves you firing at a certain time and in a certain direction. So are you ready to get launchy?
The Core Principles of Cannonhood
The core principle on which Ragdoll Cannon 3 - much like in the game's predecessor and the original Ragdoll Cannon - is that when firing a ragdoll out of a cannon, what goes up must inevitably come down. In a very, very simply-put way, the game's all about utlising the replicated laws of physics in the game in order to progress towards a certain goal, just as a human cannonball does with the real-life physical laws of gravity and momentum. The goal in this case being the striking of the target that sits somewhere on the screen, usually behind various obstacles or perched in a position that's pretty hard to get to unless you engage in a bit of critical thinking. Simply put, you have to try and fire the ragdoll at the target in order to progress to the next level, and there's going to be stuff that gets in your way. Aim the cannon by moving the crosshair to the desired location, set the power of your shot by paying attention to the proximity of the crosshair to the cannon (power is proportional to distance, so further equals a stronger and closer means a weaker one), and click the left mouse button to fire.
The manner in which the game attempts to stop you from successfully hitting the target is through various arrangements of materials such as wooden barriers, stacked boxes, spinning contraptions, and even decoy targets to confuse, bemuse, and befuddle you into being mildly frustrated so that when you finally do manage to hit that target, you're even more elated. Poor rhyming aside, this simple premise is devoid of the comparative complexity of successor, Ragdoll Cannon 4, but is still remarkably entertaining to play nonetheless, with each successive puzzle being more challenging than the last so it forces you to improve your aiming and power-judging skills.
As far as the gameplay goes, the above description explains it pretty exhaustively, so there's not much left for you to do other than enjoy it, but there's a little more to the game than one would expect from a humble flash-based title. There's the obvious challenge of utilising as few ragdolls to win the level as possible; that's a given. More interesting however is that you've got a whopping 50 levels to play through before the game's done entertaining you. Most intriguing of all the game's surreptitious offerings however is the level editor, which not only allows you to use each of the 50 levels as a starting point for making your own, but also lets you make levels from scratch. So when you're done with the 50 pre-made levels, you can go ahead and entertain yourself for even longer by being the master and commander of your very own physics-abiding puzzle-world.
And what of the Ragdoll Cannon 3 in the looks deparment? Well, they're striking to say the last, but in a seriously beautiful way (well, as beautiful as a browser-based flash game can be, anyhow) . The artwork drawn entirely in a blueprint style, so everything looks and feels simultaneously clinical (much like the approach you need to take to finding a solution to each level) yet soft and friendly. The game could definitely do with an upgrade system much like in fellow launch-based spectacular Burrito Bison Revenge, but aside from the lack of upgrades, this is a very fine title to be not wasting your time on.