Some people can't get enough of endless runners. The concept of chasing a carrot on a stick and collecting tons of miniature carrots along the way has its own allure, but there's no denying that the same concept is often used over and over to the point of boredom. Smash Hit [Free] turns the runner concept on its head with a first-person perspective, beautiful graphics centered around objects made of glass, and a completely fair free-to-play system that actually works. You could say it's a... smash hit.

The game's core concept merely takes a few moments to grasp -- you're barreling down a long series of tunnels, and your only method of attack is to touch a certain area of the screen to throw a marble. If you hit certain objects you'll earn three more marbles for your total marble count, which also functions as your life meter. If you get hit by any hazard you'll lose 10 life, and no marbles means game over. Got it? Good.

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Where Smash Hit succeeds is the fact that it takes this simple, yet effective control scheme and delivers an enchanting world that you'll actually want to run through. All you need to do is tap a certain area to "arc" a marble toss, and you'll be able to pick up the game's physics system in no time. Different segments constantly mix up your expectations, as DNA-styled glass obstacles, glass doors, and moving objects dot the landscape, seeking to drop your life count.

Almost everything can be destroyed, but you don't necessarily want to throw all your marbles out willy-nilly, as you'll need to conserve them to survive. This creates an interesting mechanic where you only throw out projectiles when you really need to, and seek to grab as many marble granting power-ups as you can. There's a small concession in the form of an unlimited bullet power every so often, but for the most part you'll need to rely on your wits and be sparing with your tosses.

Smash Hit really goes above the beyond the call of duty with an impressive visual style, which looks like it takes place straight out of a mythical land not unlike Dorothy's Oz. With crystalline structures, glass floors and endless chasms, you'll feel like you've been whisked away to another realm as you throw your marbles around, and it really feels quite impressive. I would love to see a sequel from the same team, much less another game that takes place in this same setting.

The game is free-to-play, but thankfully it employs a fair pricing method. Simply put, as long as you're willing to do it in one life, you can go from start to finish without paying a dime. Should you decide to spring $1.99 for the premium version, you'll net the ability to utilize cloud saves, and the power to use checkpoints. The latter is really where the bulk of your purchase is at, since it allows people to eventually "beat" the game without having to start at the very beginning. There are no IAPs and no devious purchases to worry about here.

I came into Smash Hit expecting a standard runner, but I came away extremely impressed, to the point where I picked up the premium version just to support it. If you're looking for a new experience with a whimsical, well designed world, give it a try.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • Kevin897

    Love it. Definitely worth the $2.

  • paulkane

    Dope.

  • rustyjaw

    Beautiful graphics, beautiful sound, beautiful physics, beautiful music, beautiful game.

    • bigrand1

      You got that in a nutshell, man! Anything else said is redundant, right?!
      Glad it's doing so well, as it should!!

  • decabao

    Nice game, and one of the only ones where the pricing/F2P is very fair.

  • JCho133

    I don't really understand where the runner comparisons came from, but all in all a great review.

    • nini

      It shares the basic thing of "go along a course, hit targets" except there's no running aspect. More a rails shooter with runner elements of constant motion.

  • thiagovscoelho

    This shows iOS is great for on-rails shooters, perhaps. I too feel inclined to insert money into it just to support the devs, and also to be able to go straight into endless mode so that it has replay value.

  • HCastle23

    I got the game when it came out a couple weeks ago and it is a fun and relaxing runner with a twist. I've never been fond of the freemium runners that try to shove the coin usage down your throat.
    I wonder if they'll update with other kinds of marble balls to use during runs

  • thiagovscoelho

    this trailer shows the waste of so many balls

    • Design by Adrian

      That's what she said!

  • josh_ando

    Wonderful game!

  • godelescherbach

    I completely fell in love with this game first time I played it and found it a really relaxing and satisfying experience. However, after I spend some time in endless mode I was getting more and more ambitious, actually aiming at top spots on the leaderboards. Since I found myself dying pretty quickly, I went back to earlier levels and started perfecting each of them in order to maximize the ball count while also retaining 5 ball hit. This exercise made me pretty skillful, but increasingly frustrated with the game. The physics engine, although astonishingly realistic, started to get under my skin, there was just too much unpredictability in how glass behaves. Furthermore, procedural generation combined with increasing speed in endless mode result in many unfair situations, where it is basically impossible to maintain a combo. This started to getting on my nerves, so when I realized I no longer enjoy playing it, I quit it. All in all, amazing game if you don't take it seriously (don't have an unhealthy ambition to get really good at it) Because then t's not gonna be fun unless you are some kind of zen master.

  • ridiculocity

    Great game! Been loving it so far. Finished the levels and now on endless mode and I just can't stop going back.

  • GaZ-OiD

    Why did it lose half a star :( well worth the full five *****

    GaZ

    • Doc Robby

      So say you. You do realize of course that many would argue that it deserves four stars or less, while others, like you say definitively 5 stars, and still others 4.5 stars? What makes yours or even my opinion the 'one' right opinion? A little humility doesn't hurt. I hope you take what I write here well as it is well meant.

      • GaZ-OiD

        It's all about opinions nothing more and nothing less :)

  • bilboa

    To get past the lasers, shoot the pink glass along the edge that's emitting the lasers.

  • thestapler

    This is my go-to end of the work week game.

    • Foghorn Irrascible

      It gets to the end of the week and this is the game you play? By choice?

  • Jacob Gehman

    It took me exactly one run to toss $2 to the developers. A beautiful concept that plays the way you feel it should.

  • Papa Deuce

    I really like this game even though I generally hate games that require great reflexes. Though, I am bad at it.... Just under 4000 is my best.

  • Design by Adrian

    Awesome minimal techno, awesome glass smashing goodness!

Smash Hit Reviewed by Chris Carter on . Rating: 4.5