Phoenixx (publisher) and I From Japan (developer)’s Smash Hockey is a strategical competitive game of air hockey that really has you planning your next move. However, it uses the unique concept of robots with special abilities and skills. I like to describe this game as the next level robotic, futuristic, explosive, more intense version of the strongman game ‘High Striker’.
There are three modes to choose from; Training, Normal, Custom and Ranked Matched, which is pretty self-explanatory. Normal Match is for battling the CPU, Custom Match is creating your own matches and Ranked Match is for those that feel brave enough to take their gaming experience to the next level by competing against the world.
The overall gameplay is competitive, and the visuals are so vibrant and rich, in some cases it reminds me of ‘Ratchet and Clank’, particularly the character designs. I adored the look of the characters as well as the unique abilities and qualities each of them possessed. I found myself using most of the time characters Shinobi and Mystic; Shinobi because you can turn invisible and have your opponent guessing what you will do next, and Mystic because I love mages and he has a stalling ability that helps in turning the tide around if used right. However, I did find it unusual that there were only 6 characters to choose from. I was really expecting more characters to be unlockable, however maybe more will be released in future?
The overall objective of the game is to deliver to your opponent’s side a bomb that is on a square platform. The first one to send the bomb over, wins. In some sense, Smash Hockey reminds me of ‘High Striker’ because you have a button that you have to continuously smash which helps the platform move. The button does have a cooldown period though, so you have to use your abilities to slow your opponent down before hitting the button again when it becomes available.
Smash Hockey is very competitive, yet encourages one to really strategise their movements and think before they act, which is why it’s easy to sink into this game. There is a time limit and if you cannot successfully beat your opponent within the time limit, you will automatically enter Sudden Death, where you must hit the button before your opponent does because it will result in an instant win.
Bingo Cards are included in Smash Hockey and these unique cards are used to score extra items that can help make your chosen character become stronger. There is the option of scoring more stronger weapons and equipment that you can utalise to customise your chosen character further. Each new tool can help assist with sending the bomb pillar over quicker or enhancing your abilities.
The game does have some annoying sides to it, particularly when you try to enter Training Mode you are always forced to watch an advertisement and there is no way around it. While I understand ads, there should be a way to skip it after a few seconds like other mobile games. Although it isn’t long, it’s still annoying that it can’t be skipped. Another criticism is that the opening of the actual game app isn’t instant, and depending on your internet speed, it could take up to 5 mins to load before you even see the actual title screen. If you mistakenly tap on a mode, there is no way to exit the match and you are forced to play through until the match is finished. Only then you may return to the main screen. Perhaps these things could be fixed later on?
Smash Hockey is fun and engaging. The amazing graphics and character designs make it so much more appealing and the gameplay is both competitive and strategical, which helps the game offer a lot of replay value. If you’re looking for something new to play and want to give a robot smashing bomb exploding game a chance, then Smash Hockey is for you.