Whether it’s the first time or the hundredth, every shattering shot brings immediate gratification. Let me be upfront, Smash Hit on the Gear VR absolutely lives up to its name. You may have already tried Mediocre’s 2D version on your Android or iOS device; it’s been available since March of 2014 on those platforms. In September of 2015, Mediocre released an additional version of Smash Hit for the Gear VR, adding head-tracking and a third dimension while maintaining a mix of destructive action and an engaging, but soothing soundtrack. The immersion of the 3D VR version combined with its simple premise and controls make it an ideal demo for those new to the platform, while its increasingly challenging levels tempt even the experienced gamer to come back for more.
A gamepad is supported, but not required. Thanks to the “look to aim” design, the only other input needed is a tap on the touchpad or a single button push on a gamepad.
When discussing Smash Hit on the Gear VR, it’s important to emphasize the use of virtual reality. For Smash Hit, you are immersed in a three-dimensional, 360 degree, geometric environment. The first thing I always do when I load up this game is look all around, especially down. The ground is quite a distance below you, which makes you feel as if you’re floating through the levels. You always move forward at a constant speed, which should help you to avoid any motion sickness. There are times where you feel as though you’re moving slightly faster or slower, but the developers did a wonderful job making those transitions smooth in a way that never made me feel queasy. You can look around in any direction, and when you shatter glass, the fragments can surround you, especially if you hit it just before it’s too late. It’s important to note that while the environment is 360 degrees, all of the action takes place in front of you. This means that you can sit in the comfiest seat in your home without requiring the use of a swivel chair.
The general objective behind Smash Hit is to complete the levels without colliding into the glass objects presented along your path. How do you remove these obstacles? You launch balls to shatter them into tiny pieces. Just be sure that you don’t run out of ammo!
In addition to shooting the impeding glass obstacles, there are also glass targets that will add ammo when hit. Depending on the target, they can add three, five, or ten balls to your ammo count. Every shot you take subtracts from your ammo count and your game ends when your count hits zero.
The real fun begins when you hit multiple targets in a row. Every ten targets hit in a row adds an additional ball to each shot. Eventually, you can be shooting five balls with each tap/press, making your obstacles and targets significantly easier to destroy. However, missing a target will knock you back down to one ball per shot. Worse, running into an obstacle that isn’t shattered in time will knock you back to a single ball per shot while your ammo count will be reduced by ten.
As simple as this premise may be, each of the 50 rooms within the 11 levels get increasingly difficult to complete. The obstacles become harder to hit by moving, spinning, popping out, and even requiring multiple strategic hits to remove them from your path. If that isn’t enough, certain levels even contain sections where the entire environment spins around you, creating the sensation of a hallway in a barrel roll. Thankfully, the spinning rooms are short-lived and didn’t give me any sense of motion sickness, but your mileage may vary.
There are power-ups available throughout the levels that will assist in taking down obstacles while conserving your ammo. The most common is a green power-up that gives you unlimited ammo for a short amount of time. This is a great opportunity to hold down the trigger and unload as much as possible to clear your path and make one heck of a fragmented mess. The next power-up you’ll likely see is a yellow power-up that makes your ammo explosive. Not only will this smash whatever it hits, it will also smash anything close to it. Again, you have a limited time before this power-up runs out. Finally, there is a pink power-up that slows everything down for a short time, giving you ample time to send out ammo. Oddly, I’ve played multiple playthroughs of Smash Hit on the Gear VR, but I’ve only encountered the slow motion power-up in the endless level, which is unlocked after all eleven regular levels have been completed.
There’s only one criticism that I have with this game, and it’s more of a “wishlist” item than a genuine problem. I absolutely love the power-ups, especially the unlimited ammo one. However, I feel like they could be better utilized. There are a few times throughout the game when you get the power-ups, but there is a lack of breakable objects to hit at that time. It would be ideal if these items came into play right before a large number of objects were present to deliver a huge spray of shattered glass. Again, this is not a problem with the game as it is, but rather a missed opportunity to take advantage of the power-ups.
I really enjoy my time playing Smash Hit for the Gear VR, and it’s definitely a game that I find myself playing over and over, despite having completed all of the levels numerous times. The combination of immersive graphics and glass shattering physics will have you coming back for more. It offers an intense experience of nonstop destruction, yet manages to still be relaxing due to the nearly hypnotic music and the ability to sit on your comfy couch while playing. Not only does Smash Hit appeal to a wide range of players, its replayability and free price tag make this game a “must have” title for any Gear VR owner.