Donut Games’ Castle Smasher started life on Flash game portals and is now on the App Store, where it joins thousands of other microgames. Smashing castles to bits with a catapult is good fun, but we expect a bigger, richer game for $2.99.
In Castle Smasher, you control a giant catapult on the left-hand side of the screen, with a castle consisting of several different buildings to your right; these usually start nearby, and sometime stretch several screens away. As in Bowman, iShoot and many other “ballistics” games, you touch to set the angle and power of your shot and then send it arcing into the castle.
Shots bounce off walls and buildings a few times, busting anything they touch down a level until it’s finally pounded to the ground. The idea is to bulldoze the entire building before you run out of shots or are defeated by soldiers streaming out of the castle’s gates.
It takes shrewd aim to bring down a whole castle. Sometimes you will want to loft a ball vertically onto a structure, so it ricochets to cause maximum damage. At other times, a flat trajectory is called for to knock down multiple low buildings.
Castle Smasher adds to the strategy by placing bonuses around the levels to award more shots. You also get to choose an upgrade between levels — adding a ball to your starting stock, making them bouncier or stationing an additional guard in front of your catapult to thwart oncoming soldiers.
This is a great setup for a game, but Castle Smasher doesn’t follow through. The game’s lack of a camera zoom or pan really bugged us, because you can’t even see what you’re aiming at half the time. Also, there’s only five levels. Yes, the last two are really tough, but five measly levels just doesn’t cut it — especially since you have to start the game fresh every time. It’s not much fun to play the same few levels over and over again.
If Castle Smasher were a free Flash game on the web, we wouldn’t complain, but it isn’t — it’s three bucks on the App Store, and that should buy you a lot of game. Skip it until Donut Games cuts the price or adds content.