I've owned an iPad for several months, and although touching and tapping my device before I hit the hay is one of my undying pleasures, I wanted a game that needed the use of both of my hands. Tapping can only get you so far, and thanks to Mini Dash, my wish for a hands on adventure was granted. Chillingo is known for putting out addictive titles, and this platform release, whether you're playing with an iPad or on your iPhone, is another solid addiction to its stable.
The game begins with a short animated sequence in which you are introduced to the main character, a wild eyed critter who has been accidentally left behind by his mates after a mishap. Although dashing is one of the creature's many actions, he can also climb and hold on to walls and, most importantly, jump and double jump into what seems to be the high heavens. A much needed tutorial gives you the choice to either pick the accelerometer controls or the on screen joystick. The accelerometer was my choice, since using both hands gives me a better feel for the game, and timing the jumps under the onscreen joystick method was a downright headache.
Once the tutorial is finished, you embark on a world filled with contraptions and obstacles to keep you from getting to your exit door. Creatures will also pop up to devour you and random gunfire will come out of left field to tear you to shreds. The key to the game is absolute patience, as you may die a thousand deaths before mastering a jump or avoiding near death from a predator. Thankfully, the music, visual design, and most importantly the game play is so addictive that getting splattered in mid-air won't feel so disheartening.
The key to each level is to find mushrooms which help you unlock new characters, levels, and different power-ups. The mushrooms are often obscured from view and may take a bit more finesse to grab, so if you want to complete the level in an expedient fashion, not to worry -- you can always return to specific levels once you get a more accurate lay of the land.
There are a multitude of ways to die in Mini Dash, and you'll need a bit of coordination, strategy, and luck to navigate past the harder levels. Getting the chance to hang upside down from a wall or even jump high into the sky, even if a pair of spikes are ready to kill you down below, gives the game a level of varied action that's rare in platformers. And even amidst all the action, you can always take a break and just admire the pretty scenery, making it mandatory for the gamer to stop and smell the roses.
If lush landscapes and mouth watering backdrops fail to impress, and if all you want is action, try the mini game portion of Mini Dash. It's a stripped down version of the game, and it has the same run and jump concepts of its more ambitious counterpart. Even with graphics one would find from the late 1970s, the mini game absolutely won me over. To date, I've died over 100 times in this mode.
Mini Dash is a platformer which gets deeper and more nuanced the more time you spend on it. For just $0.99, it's a highly worthy download, and one of top apps I'll be playing this holiday season.