Cosmic Smash Review

by

Date Released: September 9, 2001
Date Reviewed: August 3, 2010
Players: 1 Player Only
Length: 10-20 Minutes
Replayability: High

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Introduction

Cosmic Smash is a 2001 puzzle arcade game created by SEGA Rosso (now known as SEGA AM3) which was released on SEGA’s Dreamcast a few months later. It is a fairly obscure title as it was only released in few European and Japanese arcades, and just the latter on the Dreamcast as a limited release. It blends unconventional motivational gameplay, music and art together to form a truly unique and surprisingly calming game.

Concept

Based on the sport of Squash, Cosmic Smash is set up in a closed off room where the player uses his or her racquet to serve a ball off of the walls. Unlike Squash however, you do not play against anyone, rather you have to dissolve different shapes by hitting them with a ball you serve before time runs out. Once all of them are gone you go onto the next stage with a new set of patterns to remove.

The game has an announcer that talks in a very calm voice and tries to motivate the player to just enjoy themselves (somewhat similar to Space Harrier). This combined with a very soothing soundtrack and art style make Cosmic Smash an exceptionally relaxing experience.

Gameplay

The object of the game is to remove every colored block from the area before time runs out. Blocks come in all different shapes, sizes and colors, with the darker ones needing more force to pass through a group and the clear ones being a barrier that you cannot get rid of. Each level has different patterns and sometimes the blocks will move, fall or go behind a wall for a second, but the goal remains the same throughout the entire game. After the first few introductory levels, the player can also choose if they should go left or right on a map that goes in all different directions with different difficulty settings for each, making almost every playthrough a new experience.

The ball the player serves has no gravity and only goes in the direction the player forces or the wall bounces it to. Sometimes the player will have to jump to reach it, in which you can also run up the sides of the walls and off into the ball. Due to it slowing down you sometimes have to hit it with a charged shot, which pulls the ball towards you and launches it into the direction you aimed. The disadvantage to the charged shot is that every time you use it you lose five seconds from your timer, and if you are not near the ball it will take even longer to reserve it.

After every level you are given extra time and a score bonus based on how long you took, if you did not lose a ball and if you got rid of the last block with a charged shot – In which case more points are awarded for jumping off of the wall with a trick shot. The options menu lets players choose how much extra or less time they want for the overall game, charged shots and beaten level timers they want, which changes how many points you can get (less time = more points). You are also given the choice to see a URL sign after you reach the end of the path you took or run out of time to see where you rank on the global leaderboards – A feature which is sadly no longer with us as the site has been gone for years.

Music

The music of Cosmic Smash is very surreal and calming – Much like the rest of the title. While it does not have the catchiest songs you will ever hear, all of them work for the experience the developers wanted and it all sets the mood just right. The sound effects also work just as they should, with the ball making different sounds based on the thickness of the object it hits, or with the sounds your character makes when skidding on the floor.

Visuals

Similar to the Dreamcast game Rez, Cosmic Smash offers a very unique virtual reality-type look. While minimalistic, it is very clean and bright, but not enough so that it would bother your eyes. Each level has a different room color, which changes how the colors bounce off of one another. Most interesting of all is the nameless character you play as, a hollow polygon man that changes colors based on how he is doing and what kind of room he is in. Inside of him is something similar to the motor of a rubber-powered free flight model aircraft, which spins faster, vibrates and changes colors depending on how you are moving throughout the stage.

Special Notes originalreviews

Strong inspiration of Cosmic Smash comes from Breakout, an arcade game from 1976 – Which in itself is inspired from Pong. Both were developed by Atari and were massive hits to the point they are considered some of the most copied games of all time. Simple in their execution and design they are considered timeless classics. With the limited release of Cosmic Smash, there is no way it could ever be seen in the same light. However, in 2008 SEGA secured a patent for the game in America and as of 2010 they have started releasing Dreamcast games on downloadable services, leaving hope that they will give Cosmic Smash another shot.

Conclusion

Cosmic Smash is a title anyone who can press a button can play and learn the mechanics around within a few minutes. Based on it’s ease of use and large amounts of replay value that can be had, it is easy to recommend to anyone of any age. It may be too mellow for some people, but if you want a fun and relaxing game that can offer a lot of challenge you should look no further. Have a blast.

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Format(s): Arcade (SEGA NAOMI board) and SEGA Dreamcast

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One Response to “Cosmic Smash Review”

  1. DJ Fob Fresh Says:

    Very nicely done. I really want to play this one. I love the art style.

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