Dreamfab doesn’t mess around. They don’t tease you, tempt you or keep you hanging around waiting for the action to ensue. And from the word go, it’s blatantly obvious Demolition Dash HD (out now, $1.99) is gonna be a very special experience. Heck, even the game’s initial title screen boasts mouth-watering levels of visual grandeur!
Demolition Dash is a high-score runner that puts you in control of Zilla, a little pink Lizard-osaur whose state of health is depicted by three tail-sections which disappear gradually as he gets injured. Zilla jumps out of Parisian waters and into the city in traditional monster movie fashion, ready to start his rampage in the first of eight different cities. Each city you visit is broken down into three sub-levels where your objective is to help Zilla make it through each level alive, at which point he eventually disappears back into dangerous waters and the stage concludes.
Each city’s law enforcement units – from infantry units to vans, ICV tanks to choppers – are in position and waiting to take you down. That’s not to say Zilla doesn’t have any means of fighting back though! The game’s controls are tight with a capital T and extremely responsive. By holding the JUMP button down longer, you can make our reptilian friend leap higher. Pressing the button again in mid-air instructs Zilla to perform a nifty double jump. The ROAR button on the right side of the screen is used to – as clearly explained in the game’s help screens – “destroy stuff!” Zilla’s roar is able to tear through all manner of environmental obstacles, officers and their backup vehicles alike, with the greatest of ease. His roar has a slight delay before it can be used twice consecutively and enemy placement on several levels is tricky enough that if you don’t time your jumps and roars properly, a part of your tail is bound to be loped off. Once all three tail-sections are gone, Zilla can only sustain one more hit before he has to attempt to re-take the city again from scratch.
Powerups are liberally scattered throughout levels to aid you in your quest, but for fear of spoiling your enjoyment, I won’t go into detail about what they do in this review, and instead allow you discover them for yourselves.
Accumulating a high score on each level is achieved by destroying as much of the environment as you can and completing certain secondary objectives. Aside from chalking up Game Center Achievements and the competitive aspect of getting a higher score on Leaderboards, partaking in these secondary objectives on each level is a purely optional affair which seem to have no impact on progressing through the game – but, oh boy, are they ever fun to chase after!
Enjoyable side missions range from kicking a certain number of birds or wrecking particular vehicles to collecting specific colored balloons before the level ends. My personal favorite scenario would have to be the one which demands you to accumulate a high score. On these levels, the only way to achieve above-average scores is by keeping your destructive streak alive; in other words, progressing through the level by roaring and stomping over something or the other in your path with consistency. An ill-timed roar or jump which leads to nothing being destroyed for a second resets your combo multiplier, thus leaving you with no chance to successfully complete the secondary objective on that stage.
The game’s difficulty curve ramps up quite nicely as you progress; it is virtually non-existent for the initial few cities before increasing gradually enough to pose a decent challenge. Single-tier and straightforward levels morph into stages with multiple (albeit short) detours, and choosing which path to take based upon which one will yield greater rewards becomes a part of the split-second decision making required in the game’s later levels. A higher concentration of enemy units also start making Zilla’s journey through each city a living hell, hence making your experience all the more frenetic and exciting. Brilliantly, even if you clear a level by making it out with your tail intact, you won’t feel like going on to the next one until you at least successfully complete the secondary objective.
Attention to detail is an area where Demolition Dash truly outshines the competition – artistic creativity and high production values result some of the most original work seen an iOS game yet. As good as the stand-still art looks, it looks ten times better in motion. Cars exploding, birds fluttering away and leaving their feathers behind, trees getting ripped apart, billboards being shredded and balloons popping not only have their own distinct visual flair, but are accompanied by crisp audio cues which sound extremely lifelike. Each city has its own musical setting to accompany the visual differences – close your eyes while playing the game and you’ll still be able to recognize which city Zilla is tromping through. The distinct choices of music which have been selected for each locale are that good!
If there’s anything negative I felt during my play-through of the game, it’s this: one, the variety of powerups on offer is very limited and the game is quite short-lived, so, hopefully, the developers plan to expand upon these points. Secondly: it took me a while to get used to the screen-bobbing in this game. Allow me to explain, in other running games, the backdrop remains motionless while the main character you control is jumping from platform to platform. In Demolition Dash, the entire screen bobs as you jump. This created a feeling of slight nausea for me initially but went away after 15 or so minutes of playing. It however does create a slight effect of blurriness while playing, which results in not being able to see exactly what is going on during certain parts of the level clearly. This is a minor niggle though and the effect was most likely intended to be this way. For me, an option to turn off vertical bobbing with each of Zilla’s jumps would be a welcome addition though.
iFanzine Verdict: Demolition Dash is dressed to impress and lets you know it means serious business from the get-go. Zilla’s path of destruction will without a doubt have you smiling from beginning to end, leaving you craving much more when you’ve completed the journey. Don’t think twice: support Dreamfab and their efforts without even thinking once. Buy Demolition Dash immediately; if you have an iPad, get the HD version without an ounce of hesitation.