A Smashing Good Time
Mega World Smash begs comparisons to popular arcade classic Arkanoid; in fact, developers Alawar Entertainment themselves claim this ball-and-paddle game puts “the fun back into the Arkanoid.” But just as quickly as you make the connection between Mega World Smash and what was obviously its inspiration, you’re forced to throw the association right out of the window. You see, Mega World Smash does a superb job of taking a simple yet effective, tried and true formula and building on it in every way, making it a more involved, intense, and overall enjoyable experience.
The basic gameplay is, as would be expected, quite simple to grasp. The premise revolves around using a paddle to deflect a ball back into the gameplay area, bouncing it around to destroy objects and structures in the environment, and racking up loads of points in the process. So far, so simple. But as stated, Mega World Smash adds plenty of additional variables into the established formula, like unbreakable blocks, teleporters, objects of varying structural integrity (meaning they can take more damage before succumbing to your assault), mobile enemies, boss fights, and a ton of different-themed stages to progress through.
A Lean, Mean Wrecking Machine
Playing as one of four available characters (two available immediately, two unlockable in-game), players find themselves stranded in an amusement park turned hostile, and are forced to deconstruct every ride and attraction they come across with surgical precision. Clear an area entirely, and it’s on to the next. World Smash offers up a grand total of 100 stages to conquer, with different overarching themes tying them together, like a Tropical Island Park, or an Exotic Orient Park. The stages themselves offer what is in my mind the most interesting feature of the game: each screen sports a unique and creative design, stuffed full of moving parts and complicated contraptions, like windmills, parking garages, operational tanks, and many more cool designs, all yours for the smashing.
Even though everything is built from the ground up with a purpose in mind, it can all be taken apart into its individual components, no matter how large. Half the fun of the game is watching a rotating theme park ride veer and careen out of control, losing its carefully balanced centrifugal force because your skillfully-aimed projectile chipped off a piece of it at its outermost reach; or observing the slow collapse of a tower whose base has just gotten blasted by you, showering pieces of debris across the other objects in the stage. In my mind, this game resembles a cross between two completely different games: it has the creative building of Minecraft, coupled with any of the Lego series of video games – remember how much fun it was to destroy each and every object in those games, and get rewarded for doing so? The physics work really well in this game, and add some good-natured destructive fun to the mix!
I mentioned that the destructible environments were only half the fun in this game; the remainder can be found in the explosive havoc one can quickly and efficiently unleash at any given time. I’m talkin’ ’bout the power-ups, yo! As you smash your ball into blocks, random power-ups will be revealed, which immediately begin to drift down toward where your paddle is incessantly swinging left and right, tethered to its one-dimensional axis. Simply maneuver into the path of an oncoming power-up to reap its benefits, of which there are many variations. Slow down your ball, multiply it into several damaging projectiles, turn it into a remotely-detonated mine, or add an additional destructive push to it. You can even bring your paddle into the action itself by turning it into a machine gun, a grenade launcher, or using it to control precise satellite laser strikes. Round the list out with rocket launchers, homing missiles, calling in an air raid, meteor showers, and flying buzzsaws – there’s a tool for every destructive whim in this game’s arsenal. Of course, all power-ups are themselves upgradeable between missions, using stars collected on the battlefield. But be wary of red-colored power-downs, which can make your ball behave erratically, shrink the size of your paddle, or other unwelcome effects.
The Final Verdict
No one can claim that Mega World Smash reinvented the wheel; rather, Alawar took a winning formula and ran with it. But along the way, enough polish and variety has been added to let this game stand on its own legs and emerge proudly from the shadows of its forebears. Graphics are slick and colorful and work well even on dated machinery, and a massive amassing of power-ups and special attacks keep the simple paddle-and-ball combat a joy to watch and experience. Not to forget are the 100 unique theme park stages, which come complete with structures and sets designed to be a blast to dismantle.
Though it offers four playable characters, it’s important to know that the 100 stages simply repeat in a different order depending on which avatar you’ve decided upon, and the only real difference between the characters (aside from some occasional dialog) is the color of their paddle. However, the fun comes not from completing stage after stage and progressing through the game, but from the act of destruction itself, and so levels have a lot of replayability. So don your hard hat and be the wrecking ball – Mega World Smash has arrived!