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Pinata Smash

Score: 70%
ESRB: 4+
Publisher: Chillingo
Developer: BlitShake LLC
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Puzzle

Graphics & Sound:

Pinata Smash is a Fruit Ninja clone that starts off with fairly good intentions, but ends up being a frantic button-masher. Is that right? Can a touch-screen device ever have a game that's a "button" masher... is it a "screen masher?" Either way, you get the idea.

The game's visual style is simplistic, but, for the most part, gets the job done. The only real grief I have with it's looks is the fact that the game attempts to use a bit of color coding in order to let you know which pinatas you want to smash and which ones you don't. The problem is that some of the pinatas you see flying about later in the game appear to have the same color as those you don't want to hit ... except, these are ones that you do want to destroy. In the end, that just adds to the confusion you get in an already mixed-up mess of a game.

Pinata Smash's background music is okay. It's fairly high-spirited and befitting the fast-paced feel of the game. It also features enough sound effects as different pinatas get smashed to keep your speakers pretty busy. Of course, the game plays just as well with the sound off, which is always nice for a game that you could end up playing in a crowded location.


Gameplay:

Pinata Smash is a basic concept taken to an extreme. Your goal is to tap on, and smash, pinatas in order to release their candy and make the birthday boy fat and happy. You have a ticking clock and a variety of pinata animals that don't contain candy working against you.

The game starts off pretty basic and introduces the few pinata animals that will give you candy, then it adds in pinata types that will either eat the helpful pinatas, eat your candy or take time away from you. The trick is, of course, to tap only the ones that you are supposed to tap, and that becomes a major chore when there are many pinatas chaotically bouncing around the screen.

With each level you complete, you are awarded candy based on how well you did. With your hard-earned candy, you can buy upgraded smashers. At first, you start of with the basic bat, but then you can buy a bazooka which has a bit more oomph to it and will take out pinatas that require multiple taps. There is also a laser beam which feels more precise and seems to have even more hitting power than the bazooka.

Pinata Smash currently has three episodes, with the implied promise of more. These basically just change the backdrop of the game and place you in a playground, circus and zoo.


Difficulty:

Pinata Smash starts off fairly calm with just a few pinatas flying about. It's easy to get a handle on which ones grant you candy and which will take it or time away. The game quickly ramps up and it isn't long before you find yourself frustratingly trying to keep up with the fast-paced motion flying all over your screen. As the game went on, I found myself falling behind the fast moving pinatas more and more. On top of that, as more types were introduced, I found it tougher and tougher to keep track of which ones were good and which ones were not. To make matters harder, the game throws in pinatas that you are supposed to tap, but will change their shape to look like ones you aren't supposed to hit, as well as ones that start off granting you candy, but will change and only take candy away. Throw in UFOs that will abduct your candy for no apparent reason, not UFO pinatas mind you, just UFOs, and it isn't long before the game feels like it is more trouble than its worth.

Game Mechanics:

Pinata Smash's general mechanics are easy to pick up and play. The rule is "tap the pinatas that will let you earn more candy, don't tap the ones that will take them away." Early on in the game, it is fairly easy to keep track of which pinatas you are supposed to tap and which you aren't. It isn't long though before they introduce animals like the Croc that will eat other pinatas or little bitty pinatas that land on your food and eat them.

When the game throws in a few other tappable-items like an hourglass to slow down time or a poison bottle to shrink everything and make it harder to tap, it just adds to the overall confusion of what is flying around on the screen.

Here's the kicker though, while I played my way through all three episodes of Pinata Smash, I never really got the feeling that I was having fun doing so, and that's a big problem. For the most part, I just felt aggravated and frustrated over the game because everything was just moving too damn fast to keep track of. I wouldn't really recommend Pinata Smash, but if you still have an interest, then download the light version.


-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

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