Vikings aren't perceived to be the most amiable of chaps, and Smash 'n' Bash only adds to their aggressive, testosterone driven stereotype. Ingvar's main passion is his ship, and after squandering his gold in a botched real estate business, he's ready to exact some revenge. With a limb crushing brown hammer and blue shield at his disposal, the world isn't ready for his brand of beat downs. It's a promising set up for a side scroller, but after all that sturm and drang, is the game worth a look?
Before I figuratively bring the hammer down on Smash 'n' Bash, let me illustrate a few of the title's finer points. It's hard not to love any endless runner which centers on a Viking's one man path of destruction, and credit the developers for not turning Ingvar into just a straight beat 'em up protagonist. To properly obliterate his foes or animals that get in his way, he must color coordinate his weapons to the skin hue of his enemies. If you decide to send Ingvar into battle all browned up against a blue bully, chances are you're going to die. And when Ingvar dies, his face gets plastered all over your screen.
Another slight touch that's appreciated is our hero's rage meter. To properly advance in the game, you must meet a series of challenges which, once attained, is translated onto your Game Center score. There are 61 achievements to be had, but the game's recurring theme is to consistently fill Ingvar's rage bar by constantly fighting anything that comes into view. Protagonists are usually bent on some noble or passionate objective, whether it be rescuing a princess, saving a kingdom, or just seeking bloody revenge on evildoers.
This Viking's sole mission is to retrieve his dragon ship from the bank, and the only method to keep him going is to fill him with anger and violence. It's a subtle creative angle that, when mixed in with the cartoonish graphics, actually works.
All of the title's stronger points are just cute bits of foreplay before the most important act, and unfortunately Smash 'n' Bash commits one of gaming's cardinal sins. The control mechanic, which has players drag their finger on the left side of their device to move the Viking and tap the right side with another finger to change weapons, is abysmal. Ingvar drifts to the bottom of the screen if your finger isn't moving in an upwards position on a consistent basis. An upgrade I purchased which promised better steering did absolutely nothing for his horrible maneuverability, and this lack of agility severely hampers the title's playability factor. Why play a game riddled with mobility issues? If you can't properly move a Viking from slamming into a tree log, or navigate your way through two different colored fighters without dying, what's the point?
Smash 'n' Bash is a free download, so if saving money is the name of the game, you probably won't be too disappointed. With such a promising start, Ingvar ends up a hero with tons of guts and gusto, but a surprising lack of finish. He may eventually get his beloved ship once and for all, but you may need a lot of patience and suffer a ton of in-game deaths before reaching gaming Valhalla.