Big Bear: Salmon Smasher would be an easy game to overlook in the App Store, as it seems like it might play like a thousand other games already available for iOS. However, this is a far better game than it might first appear to be, and fans of casual gaming are in for a treat if they take the time to pick this one up.
The game plays very much like Fruit Ninja, but here you play a bear who must slice as many salmon as he possibly can. In this respect it is very much like other games, as the salmon jump up from the bottom of the screen, and you must swipe your finger across them to slice, all the while avoiding touching any bombs that might be thrown up, with other items and creatures giving extra status effects, such as a slow down.
The game adds so much more than others of this type do, however. Bosses appear, and you must take them on in one on one fistfights that are the highlight of the game. Once a boss approaches you, the action switches seamlessly, and you must whittle his energy bar down to zero before he beats you. Whenever a boss attacks, one of several mini games appear to allow you to earn a dodge, such as quickly sliding your finger across numbers in order, or tapping certain points. Each game only appears for a second, and if you win it you get the chance to hit the boss for a couple of seconds.
In many regards, it feels a little like WarioWare, with microgames to complete in a time limit. It is really fun, and you can even create your own bosses in a custom creation area, with the superb ability to place one of your iPhone photos as its head.
There are a few RPG-lite elements here, such as the ability to equip accessories that give you in-game perks, and to unlock different characters to play with, which all have their own abilities. Using a combination of characters and accessories, you can really create a build to suit yourself. It may not be a huge tactical addition, but this does add a certain level of depth to a simple genre.
Gamecentre leaderboards and achievements also add extra replay value to the game, and it will take you a while to unlock all the achievements, accessories and bears. You can choose to buy things using IAPs as well.
Special mention has to go to the presentation and graphic design, as this is a real looker. I loved the design of the river and the mountain in the background, and the way they both seemed to flow into one, and the characters are all really good to watch. This goes along well with the excellent sound design, with changes in music as different events happen on-screen adding to the zany atmosphere.
Overall, this is a great Fruit Ninja style game that has more depth than the average game of this type and good looks to go along with it. Big Bear: Salmon Smasher might just be one to watch, highly recommended for casual gamers.