This space shooter is far from a "smashing" success.
Now that Apple's iPhone is a games platform, numerous companies are out to show what the device can do, particularly with tilt controls and 3-D. Unfortunately, some of the technology overshadows the fun. From the looks of StarSmasher, one of the phone's first shooters, publisher espressoSoft appears to have had good intentions, as its game is a slick looking sci-fi blast fest full of menacing spaceships and hundreds of asteroids. However, beneath this shiny wrapper is a boring game that feels more like a tech demo, and clearly not something we feel like spending money on.
StarSmasher drops you in a spaceship and throws you into asteroid fields populated by enemies that drop mines and shoot lasers. To attack, you line up the targeting reticule with whatever it is you want to destroy and rapidly tap the iPhone's touch screen. To move, you physically maneuver the device up (to go up), down (to go down) and so forth. It'll take you a few minutes to adjust to the learning curve, but once you do, you'll annihilate both asteroids and bad guys in no time.
So here's the problem. StarSmasher continuously loops the same drab looking scenery, and there are no bosses or even music to speak of. Enemies get tougher and you can snag some power-ups that boost your craft's abilities, but none of that justifies paying $2.99 for the same dry experience. It won't be long until you're tired of dodging rocks and missing targets. Furthermore, the fact that you can't upload scores to online leaderboards makes playing seem pointless, and the laser noises get annoying quick.
It's a shame, because StarSmasher has the makings of a cool game, but its developer needs to shoehorn more content into the experience so it feels more like a quality hit than something the company whipped up at the last moment. Fortunately, its designer, John Bowers, is working on a version with levels, and we'll check out that edition after its release.
What's Hot: Decent 3-D graphics, tilt controls are passable.
What's Not: Nonstop shooting gets boring, scenery never changes, lasers sound annoying.