148Apps Network Post
Developer: Clickgamer.com
Price: $.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★☆☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★★☆☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★½☆☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★½☆☆

Piñata Smash is Clickgamer’s latest entry into the food slicing, or, more aptly, food container tapping, genre, but it’s not going to give fans of the most popular titles pause, much less incentive to make room in a favorite games folder. The object of this seemingly kid-friendly game baffles. Gamers play as Birthday Boy, a healthy little kid who, like most kids, loves sugar.

The key to success is filling him to the point of hyper-obesity with junk food, painstakingly avoiding anything green or healthy. OK, I get that it supposed to be funny or ironic, but the game is too sugar-coasted to be edgy enough to pull off satire. And, it’s so far removed from the message kids should be getting, it’s hard to separate the game from the ignominious storyline. Theme aside, the goal is simple – players are supposed to quickly tap loosely piñata themed objects as they pop up on the screen.

There are good items – piñatas filled with candy and a few power ups – and elements to be avoided like vials of poison or rabbit piñatas whose healthy snacks make the candy-starved child sick. Even more baffling, “crocs” that eat candy-filled piñatas appear and grow and must be dispatched by a series of taps lest they leave nothing but health food for Birthday Boy.

The game has three episodes, with 12 levels on each, and uses Chillingo’s standard three-star system for ratings. Not only are gamers required to complete each level before unlocking the next, but must also earn a specific number of candy points to open new episodes. Were the game addictive and cogent this might work as an incentive, even add replay value, but the game is weak, so it only adds frustration.

There are upgradable weapons to smash piñatas and Chillingo employs a somewhat unsavory means of opening at least one: gamers must spam friends on the Crystal network, Facebook or Twitter to get the upgrade. The rest can be earned using the in-game candy currency. But, having unlocked several, I find no discernible difference in their use.

It would make sense to follow the food slashing formula through here and have a swiping motion emulate the weapons trajectory, but gamers are not whacking with a virtual bat, they are tapping, so even here the concept breaks down.

The graphics look like bad cutouts of poorly drawn cartoons. I realize that is a “style,” but Piñata Smash looks rushed here and everywhere. And the music, which can’t be toggled off, is cloying, not cute. The thematic oddity, derivative formula, and uninspired graphics could easily be forgiven, however, were gameplay fun. But, instead it borders on incoherent.

The game’s fatal flaw is the sheer number of elements on a screen at once. Like its protagonist, the game is bloated, but lacking any muscle or definition. So many elements require similar actions like multiple taps, and items grow or break apart to consume even more white space. Any sort of precision is all but impossible.

Clickgamer, aka Chillingo, offers some of the best casual games on the App Store, but even the biggest game houses have a miss once in a while, and Piñata Smash, even at $.99 for a universal game, is a definitely one to avoid.

148Apps Network content from - http://theportablegamer.com
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