Dashing Through the Spikes
Obviously inspired by modern indie classic Super Meat Boy, Mini Dash is a game that requires incredible amounts of patience and precision. The character you control moves fast and loose, and has fun abilities such as wall jumping and sticking to the ceiling. The stages have been designed so that you will need every trick available to meet the most meager of completion requirements; and that’s before you even try out the hard levels.
There are three worlds to play through, each with 18 easy stages and 18 hard stages, although the easy stages are quite difficult, especially later in the game. These kind of twitch platformers generally control much better on a platform with physical buttons, however after a few hours I found myself impressed with both of the options given in Mini Dash. The game trains you for a few stages using accelerometer controls, and then before the tutorial ends, forces you to switch to an on-screen slider. In a clever move, you choose your control method going forward using one of two potential exits at the end of the tutorial. I found myself switching back and forth several times over the first hour of the game, but eventually settling in on the accelerometer controls.
In addition to the 108 stages in the main campaign, there are five unlockable bonus worlds of 9 stages each, and a minigame called “The Possible Game” which acts as one long, simplified stage. All of the stages in the game have one hidden mushroom, which can be collected and spent on the game’s plethora of unlockables. In addition, there are dozens of “secret items” which can be collected. These don’t seem to have any purpose aside to fill a collection screen, but add more reasons to explore the stages and try the more difficult paths.
There are multiple characters to unlock in the game as well, some of which have fairly significant advantages, such as Stickman who can teleport a short distance. Unlocking these additional characters is yet another carrot-on-the-stick helping you try to go the extra mile and collect the mushrooms. Each character can collect the mushrooms in each stage, so if you get another character, you can re-collect mushrooms in stages you’ve already cleared to get extra “currency” for more unlockables.
As if all of this wasn’t enough, Mini Dash also has an achievement system built into the game called “missions”. Each of these missions (provided to you in a set of three, replaced one at a time after each completion) awards you up to a few mushrooms for tasks of varying difficulty. Some of them are quite straightforward (collect three mushrooms) and then others will take some perseverance (play for three hours). The missions provide a nice alternate way to help the player progress through the unlockable bonus items if the stages are proving too difficult. If all else fails, you can purchase more mushrooms via in-app-purchase, but that doesn’t seem particularly necessary.
Mini Dash has a very striking visual style, with smooth, quick animation, bright colors, and varied environments. It feels like a game that was polished over a long development cycle. Quite simply, it looks and sounds great.
Mini Dash has so many things going for it that it’s not too hard to forgive the games considerably high difficulty. If you’ve played twitch platformers using slider or accelerometer controls before, you’ll probably be right at home. Many of the stages are quick to complete, giving the game a strong flavor of “Just One More”. It took me at least 3-4 hours of gameplay to start to feel particularly proficient at the game, but when I did, it became very hard to put down. This is a game that’s easy to recommend to anyone looking for a challenge, but if you don’t want to play something requiring such precise platforming skills using tilt or touchscreen controls, you will want to be cautious of this game.
Mini Dash is out now for $0.99. Get it on the