Smash Hit for iOS and Android is a spectacular surprise from Swedish developer Mediocre.
Mobile development studio Mediocre has been anything but, really; it arrived on the scene with Granny Smith, which was popular from the start. Likewise its subsequent titles, Sprinkle, Sprinkle Islands and Sprinkle Junior. While well made, however, none of these titles are particularly original; Granny Smith is a side-scrolling collect-the-items platformer, while the Sprinkle titles employ a similar mechanic to Where's My Water.
Smash Hit, therefore, comes as something of a surprise. Not only does the game display a much more polished aesthetic than Mediocre's previous game, its mechanic is both fresh and crazily addicting.
At its core, Smash Hit is a first-person perspective rail shooter, of a sort. You do move on a pre-set path shooting things; or rather, throwing things at other things. What you are throwing, though is metal balls; and what you are throwing them at is strange and beautiful glass and crystal structures.
The mechanic is simple: tap to throw. Where you tap is your target, so there's no need to line up a reticle; it's all very straightforward. There are two types of structures to smash: glass obstacles and crystals. Glass is just in your way; crystals give you a refill of either three (pyramid), five (bipyramid) or 10 balls (stellated prism). The game ends when you run out of balls.
This sounds like you could play pretty much endlessly, but there are several catches. The first of these is that, after the first level, the glass objects start moving, and grow ever more complicated in movement as you progress through the game. The second is that a collision will cause you to drop 10 balls; collide a few times in quick succession, and you may find yourself running perilously low.
And, if you manage not to make any collisions — and hit every single crystal you pass — you can up your power. Each 10 crystals you hit in succession will reward you with an extra ball per throw, up to five balls thrown simultaneously, which gives you some serious firepower and clears obstacles with ease.
The game, therefore, becomes one of decision making and close shaves. Can you hoard your balls? Can you carefully assess whether moving glass walls will be in your path by the time you're passing through? Can you manage to spot every single crystal?
There is one serious hindrance to hoarding balls: the physics engine is superb, and the sound effects with it. The balls throw with satisfying heft, and the glass shatters brilliantly, with resounding smashes and crashes. It provides that bizarre thrill that comes with consequence-free destruction, and the temptation just to smash everything in sight is very great indeed.
While, perhaps, something akin to hubris may be read in the game's name, Smash Hit is excellent: a simple idea brilliantly realised, and well worth the price of admission.
Smash Hit is available as a free download for iOS and Android. A one-time in-app purchase of AU$1.99 unlocks the ability to start the game from the last checkpoint, rather than the beginning every time.