Capsule Review: Smashing the Battle

A simple 3D brawler starring a few busty women and an army of robots. In each mostly-linear level, you must smash up all the robots and reach the exit. A few variations exist including time limits, hazards to avoid that can turn crowded battles into bullet hells, and some survivors to find off the main path.

The core combat is surprisingly solid. You have your melee combo and a handful of special abilities including a proximity mine and an enemy-grouping magnet. The abilities have cooldowns and also use a shared energy meter which slowly regenerates. Dodge-rolling grants brief invincibility and costs a bit of energy - but if you dodge through damage (what the game terms a “successful evade”) you regain more energy, much faster than the normal recharge rate. Along with the variety of enemy and hazard types, this creates some interesting combat scenarios with risk/reward trade-offs.

Unfortunately, the rest of the game doesn’t really live up to this. The story is thin and poorly translated. The music and graphics are fine, but there’s only one environment and the levels get repetitive quickly. There’s a second character who plays quite differently, but to unlock her you need to beat the whole campaign with the first character so you don’t get to mix things up along the way (and since I didn’t finish the campaign, I never got to try the second character).

Once you’ve gotten the hang of the combat, there isn’t much variety to keep you engaged. The long-term draw presumably comes from the progression - you earn a few different resources as you play which can be used to purchase a few kinds of upgrades. Most upgrades are stat-based and give small gains for their quickly-increasing costs. I was unsurprised to find that on mobile platforms, the resources for these upgrades are available via microtransaction; on other platforms you just have to grind - in a game that’s already repetitive.

The most inexplicable issue is the rating system. Every level gives you a zero-to-three star rating upon completion; earning three stars gets you more resources. But instead of being about completion time or damage taken or something, one star is for having at least two “massive kills” (destroying a large number of robots at once), one is for having a “killstreak” of at least twenty, and one is for having at least ten “successful evades”.

I always got the killstreak one without trying and it was easy enough to get the massive kills once I knew I was supposed to, but since a “successful evade” requires dodging through damage I had a lot of trouble with this. My play style involved staying away from damage, not purposefully staying near it and dodging at the last moment. Changing my play style to grind out evades was frustrating and felt like I was arbitrarily being made to play in a less tactically-sound way - and worse, there was no way to check how many evades I had before ending the level.

Smashing the Battle has an interesting and sometimes satisfying combat system, but not much else to recommend it. The game’s pace and reward structure actively get in the way, taking something that should be enjoyable and drawing it out and distorting it until it becomes frustrating and dull.

I Stopped Playing When: About a dozen levels in, I was hitting difficulty spikes and felt like I was being obliged to grind resources in an already-repetitive game so that I could buy uninteresting upgrades. At the same time, I was trying to three-star levels and found it a frustrating way to play. These factors combined evaporated my interest and I put the game down.

Docprof's Rating:

Two Stars: Meh. The game has some merit - it probably held my attention for at least an hour or I came back to it for more than one play session. But there wasn't enough draw for me to stick with it for the long haul.

You can get it or learn more here.