Revisiting Smash Tanks

Revisiting Smash Tanks: what makes it such a fun AR game?

Today I wanted to revisit the game “Smash Tanks!”.  I don’t revisit every AR app or game, only those whom I personally found inspiring and interesting to talk about after reviewing them.

Smash Tanks is one of my favorite ARKit games. I think it’s one of the games that I personally enjoyed most. Usually, after reviewing a game, I delete it to make room for other games and video recording that I make. The thing is that if I remove a game, I don’t get notified when an update is released.

After reviewing Smash Tanks, I didn’t uninstall it. Of course, this is completely subjective, but I really enjoyed playing the game. It’s one of those game that I want to be on my iPad and play it again during the week on my free time. I also want to know when this game receives an update because I really want to play this game against other players. As of the time of writing, Smash Tanks doesn’t have an online multiplayer mode, only a local MP mode over WiFi.

I’m telling you when this game gets an online multiplayer game and some progression, I’ll be spending a lot of time with it.

The thing is that with many mobile games, you usually play them for a day or two and move on to the next. There are so many games out there, that I think most players aren’t loyal to specific few. The stimulus to download new games is high because of the selection of games on the App Store and especially because most of them are free to play games.

Now, when we look at ARKit games, there aren’t so many of them, let alone high-quality ones.  Furthermore, not every game has a large appeal and now try to fit in an online multiplayer game into that limited market—this isn’t an easy task.

I think Smash Tanks has what it needs to become a very popular AR game, but it needs the online multiplayer mode. As for now, I really enjoy playing against the AI, but it isn’t that smart. I’ve played against a friend today and it was really a fun and hilarious experience.

Before we move on, here is a gameplay video I recorded today indoors.

So what makes Smash Tanks formula works so well?

I stumbled on this question because I want to know what makes a game more entertaining than another, at least in my perspective.

Here are a few things that I think made a difference?

  • Simple and intuitive one-finger control, everyone can play it
  • Dynamic destructible environment. It’s fun breaking up things in games and you don’t need to clean up after yourself. We don’t get to do it in real life for obvious reasons, but in AR we can, without any negative consequences. What’s more important, is this leads to a dynamic gameplay which results that each match plays differently and enforces tactical thinking and adaptability. Buildings can collapse on units and damage them and they are collapsed based on where you hit’em. You can use the building in an offensive and defensive ways.
  • 3 tanks help create a more strategic gameplay. You can combo moves as well. For example, you can kill two tanks and get the power-up drop in a single move. This makes players think twice before making a move.
  • The placement of your unit matters as they have weak spots.
  • The game has fun and engaging aim-and-pull fling controls
  • Adorable and cute little tanks and voice-overs
  • Nice selection of cool power-ups which also requires enforces different strategic moves.
  • Beautiful use of verticality that creates a more immersive gameplay experience in the real physical space. For example, seeing the rocket fly up in the air or watching the power-up crates falling down from the sky.
  • Smooth and jerky animations and physics that enriches the humorous element of the characters and the interaction between them
  • The turn-based gameplay creates a thrilling suspension and anticipation. I felt it when I play Civilization and this works the same way here but at a much faster pace.
  • Fast-paced and fast-session rounds. There is no need to reserve much time for this game, you can enter and play for only a few minutes, have fun and continue doing other things. Quick-session games are more accessible for people that don’t have a lot of time to play, but still, want to enjoy a fun gameplay experience.
  • Nice UI visual hints (e.g. the arrow that shows the flinging direction, the ring around the tank that shows which tank plays this turn, etc.). The user doesn’t need to think, the visual hints make you understand what to do every single moment without any confusion.
  • It’s comfortable to play, like a board game.

These are the things that I personally found that made me enjoy the game so much. I think that the main things that did it for me are the simplicity of the gameplay controls alongside its tactical complexity.

I wanted to write this article in order to break down the things that made this game fun to play and hopefully inspire others to follow some of this game design principles.

Of course, it doesn’t mean that this game is perfect (no game really is). There are still things that I liked to see in future updates, especially regarding progression and online matchmaking in most part.

If you haven’t had a chance to download and play it, I highly suggest that you do so. It’s a fantastic iOS AR game that I’m positive that you’ll enjoy playing. I recommend keeping it on your iPhone or iPad so you can check when new updates are available for it. Well, I have my own selfish reason, I really want this multiplayer game to become successful, so I can play with you guys—not a bad reason isn’t it?

If you have anything to add, please do so in the comment section below, I really want to hear your opinions.

I hope you enjoy reading this article. If you did, please do me a little favor, share it. Thank you!

Oh, one last thing, I want to thank Dumpling Design for making such a fantastic game. You game translates to hours of enjoyment at the end of the day, and this means a lot to me and for other players, so again, Thank you.