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iPad  header logo

Dash & Bash

For: iPad   Also on: iPhone

Mash & gnash

Product: Dash & Bash | Developer: In-house | Publisher: Touch.Play.Repeat | Format: iPad | Genre: Casual, Racing | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
Dash & Bash iPad, thumbnail 1
If you're the kind of person who likes to have unnaturally big eyelashes, you can now buy a brand of mascara specifically designed to make your eyelashes look as though they're fake. I don't pretend to understand how the minds of people who like to have unnaturally big eyelashes work, but this seems like an odd thing to do.

In a strange way, Dash & Bash feels a bit like this brand of mascara, except instead of creating the illusion that real eyelashes are artificial it creates the illusion, for better or worse, that a premium game is a freemium game.

I mean, listen: it has in-game currency with which you buy more powerful outfits for your duck, Dash. You collect this currency gradually by playing, and you can replay stages to collect more - that is, you can grind.

And it quickly gets very difficult, leading you to suspect that you're being coerced into spending money, even though you're clearly not because there's only one IAP listed on iTunes description - full story unlock - and this is impossible to find.

The game takes the form of a cartoony, boisterous, side-scrolling arcade racer based on the rivalry between two animals. You have to dodge your way from one end of each obstacle course to the other as quickly as possible by holding your finger down either on the top or the bottom half of the screen to jump or dive.

Once you get to the end you're given a star rating depending on which of the benchmark times you managed to beat.

Thrash & lash

Acceleration is automatic, but your speed is affected by the objects you come across: berries speed you up, and things like girders and missiles, inevitably, slow you down. On top of those, there are clowns that invert your controls; chicks that destroy obstacles in front of you; horrible green blobs that explode and obscure the screen; and so on.

You can take on each stage either as a time trial or as a race against Bash, who appears to be a chipmunk with a jet pack. Winning one of these races nets you a Golden Egg, but you'll struggle to win after the first few stages, because you need to race almost perfectly. Hit an obstacle and you might as well tap 'reset' - though the more powerful the outfit you're wearing, the better you'll do.

Dash & Bash is difficult. Once you reach the third world, Wally Winklepop's World of Wonder, you'll find yourself relying on memory, lightning-fast reflexes, and timing just to scrape by.

The obstacles come thick and fast, so one impact generally results in a period of staggering, slow-motion recovery as you ricochet haplessly from hazard to hazard. What's more, the missiles seem to coincide with the power-ups, passing across them just as you do so that you have two choices: get a rocket in the face and a berry, or neither.

Cash & flash

You might be thinking at this point that I'm just inept, and that you'll be able to weave skilfully among the hazards, swooping in to collect power-ups and darting away before the rockets arrive. Good luck. Dash & Bash's controls are just too blunt to let you respond to everything the game throws at you. Memory is your only path to victory.

That's why this feels like a freemium game. You sense instinctively that you're being rammed into a wall in the hope that desperation makes you empty your pockets. To the game's credit, this clearly isn't the case - it's just very tough.

If that's a problem for you, there's an Easy mode. But if you're up for the challenge of the Normal mode, there's plenty of mileage in Dash & Bash. It'll take you some time to finish every race, more time still to get three stars on each, and even more time still to get every Golden Egg.

Whether the game is enjoyable enough to be worth the effort is another question, to which the answer is mainly, "no". Dash & Bash is lovingly made, charming, accessible, and fun enough to justify the 69p asking price. But when the going gets tough, it doesn't give you enough of a reason to persist.

You'll give it a bash, but pretty soon you'll want to dash.
Dash & Bash
Reviewer photo
Rob Hearn | 22 May 2013
Dash & Bash is a solid and characterful casual game that falls short of greatness due to poor controls and excessive difficulty
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