With a name like Drag Tag Smash, I was convinced that this app was going to be a vehicular destruction derby, replete with blaring rock music and possibly even based on a tatty line of plastic toys or Saturday morning cartoon.
What I discovered, however, was the colourful lovechild of Breakout and Space Invaders with a touch of Rez to boot. Pleasantly surprised doesn't even begin to cover it.
Drag Tag Smash may raise a few eyebrows as its first level reveals a phalanx of regimented aliens that bombard you with firepower from the top of the screen. So far, so Space Invaders, but your ship is armed with a powerful tethered sphere that can be bounced off of enemies in the approaching armada; 'tagging' foes it touches and bouncing around the arena. Tagged foes are removed from the board every few seconds and reward you with points, new temporary weapons and some well-earned visual feedback. The more tags and bounces you manage to make before each screenwipe, the bigger the rewards will be.
It's a perfect middle ground between old school arcade thrills and SHMUP mayhem, and exceptionally responsive thanks to considerate touch screen mechanics.
Colourful yet minimal wireframe graphics make for a slick and accessible experience that doesn't get mired down in unnecessary clutter, but the music is the real star of the show. A competent selection of trance and electronica tracks provide the perfect background to the action, and seamlessly change with the levels themselves.
The only minor issue with Drag Tag Smash HD is replay value, which essentially comes down to obsessive high score runs. There's only one musical track and preset changes of enemies to see, but Openfeint users will at least be able to engage in global leaderboard challenges. Since there are an infinite number of foes, however, I'm not really complaining.
- Referential yet unique
- Incredible soundtrack
- Trippy, colourful visuals
- Replay value limited to high score runs
Summary: Rather than taking classic games and copying them outright, SmashMouth Games has created a perfect and imaginative fusion of their most successful ideas. Drag Tag Smash would be a bargain at thrice the price, and well worth immediately investing in.
Developer: SmashMouth Games
- SD Version compatible with iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. Requires iOS 3.0 or later.
- HD Version compatible with iPad. Requires iOS 3.2 or later.