I’m going to say it right out of the gate – generally I hate endless runner games.
I only find them fun for about half an hour and then I get bored. There’s nothing about them that, to me, makes for a truly enjoyable video game. I like games with end goals, levels to complete and something more than just jumping or dodging things.
That said, I can see why they have become so popular on mobile platforms; they are relatively easy to program (from what I hear), but more importantly for the consumer they allow for easy controls for smartphones – unlike more complex titles that rely on awkward on-screen buttons and controls.
So it’s with some surprise that I found Dashy Crashy… fun.
Blue Skies of SEGA past?
In Dashy Crashy’s press release and ad campaign, Dumpling Design makes reference to the game’s homage to the old school SEGA arcade games and ‘blue sky’ gaming of yesteryear – with the team consisting of former RARE and Sumo Digital employees (who worked on the Sonic All-Star Racing series and OutRun 2).
And this is, after all, why we are reviewing the game for SEGA Nerds, due to its (loose) connections with SEGA.
Well the game certainly has a touch of the old blue sky gaming about it. Using colourful visuals, fun art style and fast-paced gameplay, you get the impression of a game made during the dizzying heights of the Dreamcast era.
Overall the visual style is rather simplistic in design, but very effective. The cartoon graphics remind me of some classic 16 bit games – made 3D.
The way the scenery changes as you drive along is really cool. It’s not unique to Dashy Crashy, or that original – but it does give a certain nod to OutRun that I really appreciate.
But other than those initial impressions, I don’t think the game really shows too many signs of SEGA’s influence. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing – I like that Dumpling has based their title on old SEGA games and then to made into something that’s very much their own.
Your goal is to get as far along the road as possible, without crashing your vehicle. In your path are other vehicles to avoid – by swiping left and right to move over one lane. Now these other vehicles do change lanes as they go along, giving warning through their indicators.
But you then have other obstacles to avoid – such as massive pile ups, a convoy of large trucks and speeding vehicles, which come from behind and knock other cars out of the way. Those cars that are hit then tend to fly off in various directions and can smash into you – without warning; so you have to be focused.
Other than that, there’s not much to it. You can brake/slow down to help avoid collisions and speed up through the use of unlimited boosts.
As you progress you unlock different vehicles across 6 grades of vehicles ranks (Rank E – Rank S) the vehicles have different accelerations, top speeds, turning (swiping) speeds and physical strengths – allowing you up to four crashes before your car dies. So it’s up to you to choose your favourite vehicles, based on play style.
Leeettt’s Dashy Crashy!
When you open the app you are pretty much thrown right into the game. The game starts running – but not actually ‘playing’. You see your car on the road, zooming past other cars and bumping into ones that get into the way, but it’s a demo mode and not actually in the game properly – until you swipe the screen to start and then you take over from where the demo left off.
It’s a pretty cool feature and means you are getting more of a genuine arcade experience – no phaffing around with menu screens – you load up and you’re in the action from the get-go.
And aside from being told to swipe left and right during the demo display, there are no other instructions to speak of. This is brilliant in some ways, but also a negative in others.
I hate games that give you instructions – for years games didn’t need on-screen instructions and then all of a sudden it seems that even the simplest games will hold your hand and tell you how to game – often breaking the flow of the game and ruining those initial moments of gameplay.
Dashy Crashy doesn’t hold your hand at all, which is good. But it also doesn’t tell you all the controls – which some gamers might be annoyed about. I wasn’t annoyed, but a friend of mine happened to be playing and reviewing the game at the same time as me, and she messaged me to say that (after several hours of playing) she had just discovered that you can brake and accelerate in the game.
I laughed, because I found this out on one of my first goes – but then I remembered that I had found it out by pure accident – I miss-swiped and ending up braking, instead of steering. So if I hadn’t been so mal-coordinated with my swipes, I could have easily missed that detail.
But, again, I need to emphasise – I prefer this to being told how to play the game. I felt like I had achieved something small by randomly figuring out these moves and it added to the classic gaming feel Dumpling had been advertising. If they made you go through a tutorial stage or had messages popping up on screen every few seconds to tell you how to play, I would have been pissed off and probably thrown my girlfriend’s iPad down.
And really, the key to what makes Dashy Crashy enjoyable is the speed and the thrills the game throws at you. It gets pretty intense as this video (right) can show you…
As you build up speed, you travel further quicker (obviously) and it makes avoiding vehicles so much more fun and then when the game throws out one of its random events, such as massive pileups and you hear the announcer lady call out – you get the sudden sense of urgency that you don’t really get with any other endless runner game (at least none I’ve played).
And generally, when death occurs, it happens in the blink of an eye – and rather than being annoyed that you died, you get this weird wave of enjoyment; like a thrill that you were able to continue at high speeds for so long, but that fate had caught up with you and ended your run.
Speaking of deaths, they rarely feel cheap. On occasion, I found that I had miss-swiped, causing a fatal crash and that was annoying – but it was more down to my own inability to swipe the controls – because the game’s controls, while very simple, are spot on.
There is no delay in your swipes and… well that’s it, that’s pretty much all there is to it. Gameplay is smooth, swift and exciting!
The few times when deaths can be frustrating is when you are doing really well and have a random event happen that you feel you are in control of, but one of the CPU cars gets knocked into your path without warning. But that’s the nature of the game – you just need to be aware of your surroundings and anticipate these things.
The features in Dashy Crashy are few. There’s an element of multiplayer – where you can essentially race against your friends through the iOS game centre and win their cars – but it’s not full online racing (at least not what I experienced).
The only other feature I can think of is possibly one of my favourite things about the game – you can record your play through (video above is one I recorded from my iPad). Essentially at the start of each new turn, you can select the camera icon in the bottom right of the screen – this will record a video that saves automatically to your camera roll – which you can upload or view later.
My two issues with this are that the recording appears to be quite a low resolution. Obviously videos can take up some room and it would be annoying if your kid had filled up your iPad with hundreds of clips of him crashing cartoon cars, but it would be cool to have an option to choose resolution for those of us who want lots of fun crashes.
The other issue is that you have to manually tell it to record AND manually tell it to save the recording. Again, it would be nice to have an option to auto-record at the start of each turn and then at the end of said turn choose whether to save or discard the recording. As it stands right now, you can easily forget to tell it to record and also forget to tell it save the recording at the end of your turn.
The way to get rid of adverts is simple – buy any car. This is quite a nice way of doing things, because the bottom-range of vehicles are only 79p – which is about the average price for a cheap app. And it’s an amount I’m happy to pay for any gaming app (even endless runners).
The downside is that as you progress and unlock more cars, you can’t go back and buy a car you have unlocked. As I say, only the bottom-range of cars are 79p – as you get better cars you have to pay more for them.
This does make sense – as better cars should cost more. But if you have unlocked all the low level cars you are forced to pay the higher value for the game – or put up with adverts.
But, at the end of the day, the most expensive cars are only £1.49, which isn’t actually bad at all for the game. But I’m glad I paid 79p for mine – because video adverts that you can’t skip, suck balls.
As you race along, you hear the same noises and sounds from the announcer throughout. It’s not as bad as some games, but a tad annoying at times. The music is also not that enjoyable – again it gets repetitive the more you play.
Now, while these sounds are annoying – it’s made more annoying by the fact there are no options at for the game. You can’t easily turn off the game’s sound in-game. Instead you have to turn down your devices master volume. Not the end of the world, I guess, but would have been nice to have some sound options – even if it was to turn the announcer off/down, but keep the other sound effects.
There also seems to be a bug, which at the time of writing doesn’t appear to have been resolved (though I have mentioned it to the developers) – when you first load the game, the sound is completely off, until you tell it to record your play through – then the sound suddenly turns on.
For my last negative, I have to go back to my opening paragraph. At the end of the day, Dashy Crashy is an endless runner and it suffers from the same issue all endless runners suffer from – there’s no real point to it, other than being able to say “I can travel this far in the game!”
But, that said, if you are a person who does enjoy endless runners, then Dashy Crashy is possibly one of the best I’ve ever played. It offers fast, fun gameplay in shorts bursts – so it’s ideal for bus rides, or in waiting for a train, or sitting on the toilet at work.
It is also more addictive than some endless runners I’ve played, because the gameplay makes it fun and the way the environments change as you drive along.
I can’t say that Dashy Crashy my favourite game of the year, or even my favourite mobile game. But for an endless runner, I not only had that 30 mins of fun I usually get, but found that I was getting hooked on the game.
Unfortunately, I also found that the game suffered from the issues I have with every endless runner I’ve ever played and ultimately I could not play the game for long periods at a time. While it’s something that I would keep on my iOS device – I’m not sure I’d play it for months at a time; more like a game I’d pick up every once in a while.
That said, for those of you who do enjoy endless runners it’s hard to get better than Dashy Crashy. It offers the similar experience you should be used to – but also making it more enjoyable than a lot of others in the genre.
So if you like endless runners/drivers – I would definitely recommend picking this up.
And if you don’t like endless runners, then I’d still recommend it!
It’s free (if you can put up with ads every five plays) or a very reasonable price of 79p (not sure of the US dollar amount) and even for someone like me, who doesn’t like this type of game, I found it enjoyable and can’t really fault it – with the exception of the bug with audio (at the time of writing).
+ Fun, colourful visuals
+ Fast, frantic and enjoyable gameplay
+ More enjoyable than most endless runners
+ No hand-holding, just straight into the game
– At time of writing there is a bug with the audio loading
– Sounds can become tiresome
– Similar shallow gameplay that all endless runners have