As the App store becomes more flooded, it becomes harder for new games to distinguish themselves. Any popular idea becomes mimicked to the point of ubiquity and games that are popular and cool in September are an afterthought by December. Bouncy Smash will be released by IV Studio on iOS on February 20th and has what it takes to stand out from the pack.
Bouncy Smash is set in a future where robots known as Duplicants have gone rogue. You play as Arlo, a Smasher who is tasked to destroy them using well timed jumps and power ups. Enemies come in increasingly difficult waves and before long survival becomes the top priority.
Once Bouncy Smash starts, two things immediately stand out: the setting is rich and the music is delightful. Creative Director Zac Dixon has stated that the game is partially inspired by his childhood gaming experiences and nowhere is this more clear than in the game’s bright colors and upbeat sounds. Classics like Super Mario 64 and Banjo-Kazooie are fondly remember for their lush levels and upbeat soundtracks. Arlo is a bright blue that pops off the screen while enemies come in bright greens and purples. The background can be dusky orange, muted pink, and dark purple and the soundtrack manages to be both nostalgic and modern. This is a game that pays homage to the classics while catering to current sensibilities, and would be at home on any fifth generation console
Much like games from previous generations, the gameplay for Bouncy Smash is deceptively simple. Each level starts with a set number of enemies and to advance to the next level Arlo is only required to survive. It starts easy enough, but as the game progresses, there are more enemies with a greater ranger of powers to contend with while the levels involve trickier platforming. This apparent simplicity also extends to the scoring. As Arlo bounces on top of enemies you score points. The hook is you can multiply your score by continuing to bounce on enemies. This is addictive, fun, and much more difficult than it sounds as it requires skill, timing and practice.
Since Bouncy Smash is an iOS game many people will rightfully ask, “How bad are the microtransactions?” Unsurprisingly, there is a store that allows you to buy, skins, outfits, skills, and health. Thankfully, no purchases are needed to progress since simply playing the game earns coins. There are also daily and weekly challenges that make unlocking items doable without spending real money.
Bouncy Smash does make some missteps along the way. There are some levels that will forgo the bright color scheme for pitch darkness. This is probably done to keep things fresh, but is also unnecessary due to the creative level design and unwelcome due to the game’s beauty. Gameplay controls can also be frustrating for the touch screen as it sometimes seems to suffer from input lag and even unresponsiveness. This can be death for a game that relies so much on impeccable timing and precision control. Thankfully, there is a tilt option that controls far better.
While Bouncy Smash is another in a seemingly endless stream of games influenced by retro favorites, the difference is it is not interested in just paying homage to older games and instead works at pleasing current gamers. It provides the perfect mixture of tribute and fun and is a great addition to the App Store.