Mar 31, 2014
At first glance, Smash Hit seems quite different from the usual Mediocre oeuvre, based on the Sprinkle series and Granny Smith. It’s a first-person game where players launch balls at glass structures to break them as they advance through them – a more abstract look than the cartoon-inspired games Mediocre has done before. But where those other games had wide appeal, so does Smash Hit with its easy-to-pick-up gameplay.
Yes, this is based around just one very simple play method: tap on the touch screen to launch a ball from that spot, aiming at targets that come as players travel forward. Players are trying not to hit any glass as they travel forward. Thus, there are two big things that players need to learn. First, there is the obvious factor of learning how to compensate for the arc of shots, that it’s not just “tap here to hit this object,” but that distance and movement must be factored in as well. The less-obvious thing is knowing that not all obstacles need to be hit. Some look dangerous, but learning when to hit them when it’s just right is important.
See, players are regulated by how many balls they have left to launch, and the game is content to let players run out eventually. Thus, being smart with them, realizing what is an actual hazard and what’s just for show, as well as finding efficient ways to destroy some hazards, is very important. The crystals which can be destroyed to get more balls are important too: keeping a combo going with them is great because the multi-ball shots serve as a great way to more easily destroy obstacles, but then players get obsessed with destroying the crystals because one miss and it’s back to the standard shot.
Thankfully, the game uses what I’m coining as Minter checkpoints – inspired by Jeff Minter and many of his games, checkpoints for each level track how many balls are at each checkpoint, so players can improve their checkpoint performance by beating an earlier level with more balls. This encourages not just progression, but improvement, and progression by improvement.
Really, Smash Hit is quite an intelligent game for something so simple. It’s about breaking glass, but the way everything works around that core idea makes the game great.
Smash Hit is available as a freemium download: checkpoints are locked until one pays $1.99, but the game is perfectly playable without paying.