Long before we wrapped our hands around our first smartphone, we suffered the yearly torture of being dragged into school on – get this – a Saturday morning, for a soul-crushing event known as the school summer fete.
Amidst the lopsided cakes stands, rubbish tombolas and dead-eyed teachers wondering where they went wrong in life, was our saviour – the crockery smashing stand.
Shelves filled with old plates, bowls, vases and teapots, just begging to be put out of their misery with a well-placed throw of a wooden ball.
It was a firing range for teacups on death’s row, and the perfect outlet for our favourite thing in the world – smashing things into millions of pieces.
That was a rather long-winded way to introduce this week’s free game of the week, Smash Hit, but hey, we felt like sharing.
Available on iOS and Android, the premise of Smash Hit is simple. You’re an ethereal, bodiless force, floating along in an endless straight line in a surreal world filled with an assortment of giant glass shapes. And your sole purpose is to smash said shapes into oblivion.
You’re able to do this by flinging supply well-aimed metal balls at them. Dotted throughout the level are special glass pyramids and prisms. Smashing them adds more balls to your arsenal.
Hit enough of these in a row and you have the ability to fire multiple balls at once, supercharging your destructive capabilities in the process.
It’s all very therapeutic at first. You’re floating along at a relaxing pace, gently lobbing balls in a perfect arc, hitting your glass targets dead-centre, and generally feeling pretty damn good about yourself.
The graphics are superb, and the music’s otherworldly. Each shattering slab of glass leaves you with a feeling of immense satisfaction, like stepping on a deliciously crunchy leaf, or biting into the crust of a freshly-cooled baguette. Mmmm.
After the first couple of zones, you’ll notice that you’re whizzing past faster than usual. No big deal, the way ahead is clear, and you’ve got plenty of balls. This is easy.
And then, out of nowhere, a giant wall of glass slams down into your path at the last second. You’ve rammed into it, head-first, and lost ten balls in the process. Lose them all, and it’s game over.
After this point, Smash Hit transforms from the equivalent of a pleasant country stroll, to running through a minefield littered with a downpour of flaming arrows. Furious, sentient arrows, who’d love nothing more than piercing your tear-laden cheeks.
As you complete each zone, the obstacles become more and more insane, from giant glass hammers with indestructible metal heads, to whirling windmills and lethal lasers.
We haven’t felt this level of gaming adrenaline since we were shrieking at old school platformers, where a single miss-jump or late duck resulted in an early, rage-inducing death.
And therein lies Smash Hit’s beauty. You’ll be screaming, swearing, and often, crying, but reaching the end of a zone brings with it a real sense of accomplishment.
It’s the sort of feeling you get when you’re running from a horde of zombies and reach the safe house, just before the door shuts. It’s pure relief, and you’ll know you’ve earned it.
And that brings us nicely to the issue of checkpoints. Smash Hit doesn’t have any. At least, the free version doesn’t. You’ll have to fork out a one-off payment of £1.49 for the privilege of repeating zones, each of which has a checkpoint at the beginning.
We cracked after reaching the end of zone three and opted for the checkpoints. There are ten zones overall, and anyone that completes them all on a single run deserves to be rewarded with barrels of gold, a lifetime supply of red meat and the adoration of their peers.
If you do go the checkpoint route though, then you’ve still got your work cut out for you. While the obstacles remain the same, they’re shuffled around, so you’ll never get two identical runs in a row.
After miraculously making it out of zone 10 alive (which took us a good three days to complete), you’ll find yourself in an endless level where your sole objective is to travel as far as you possibly can.
When all’s said and done, Smash Hit isn’t a complex game. It has no real depth. But its polished hair-trigger gameplay and challenging levels will keep you hooked until you make it through to the very end.
If you do, you’ll walk around with a swag in your step, knowing that you can now handle absolutely anything.