Every now and again, something cricket-related will come across my feed. And just as sure as night follows day, I'll pick up my phone and think, "Maybe someone has finally ported Cricket 97 to phones."
Naturally, that still hasn't happened. So I go around looking for other cricket-esque entertainment, most of which is ad-riddled garbage. But the other day I came across a local cricket game, and it's dominated every toilet break ever since.
Available on iOS and Android for free with a small IAP to remove ads for life, Smashtastic Cricket is a homegrown product from Brisbane based developer Silas Rowe. Rather than going down the simulator route, Smashtastic offers players the opportunity to play as a batter through a series of T20 leagues, starting in Australia and working your way up to international selection.
Players have one of four stats: hitting, power, fitness and spirit, the latter of which seems to impact your players' capacity for clutch situations. The game advertises hitting as the most important stat - mishits are the most common way of getting out - while power and fitness are largely straightforward.
The same could be said for the mechanics. You'll face one of three bowler types each over: pacers, medium dibbly dobblers, and spinners. The spin and deviation off the pitch is on the extreme side, but most of the time you'll end up swinging before that factors in heavily (and your players' batting stat helps a lot here).
Where the variety kicks in is through the AI constantly changing the field - and a mechanic that forces the player to change what parts of the field they're hitting to. If you target the same area more than twice, your chances of a mishit increase, typically resulting in a quick trip back to the pavilion.
Once you've got the basic act of knocking the ball to the fence, the game settles into a regular pattern. Tonk ball for six to open part of the field, block once or twice to regain stamina and your composure, glance the ball around a couple of times, block some more, and maybe finish the over off with a big swing.
It's what you expect from Smashtastic upon opening the app. The graphics are simple - unrefined, really - with a lot of UI elements that are functional at best.
What's not functional, and good value for money, is the commentary. One-liners pop up at the bottom of the screen after every ball, but it's the quips that appear when you block that really make the game.
On the description page, Smashtastic declares that the commentary is, in a word, Australian:
Finally no more banal stories about the Ashes tour of 1898 just straight up snarky comments about the outrageous state of the cricket industry!
What's not said in the description is perhaps the golden rule of enjoying cricket: talking shit about the commentators, and especially the sponsors. Smashtastic upholds that glorious tradition, taking swipes at pointless TV promos, Telstra and the Commonwealth Bank.
I'll take burns against KFC and Telstra over better graphics any day of the week.
The rest of the game plays out as you'd expect: it's a power fantasy for cricket fans, as you rise up the order and cart fast bowlers around the park for fun. Smashtastic simulates all action you're not involved in, so matches fly through pretty quickly, to the point where I've almost completed a full season of 25 years within the space of a week.
It's the kind of game that's catnip for cricket addicts, particularly for those whom shit talking the sport is as important as actually watching the sport. Smashtastic is a fun knock around, rather than a serious simulation of cricket.
It's far from perfect: the game has a tendency to slow down at points when the ball reaches the boundary, the sprites for the cricketers are jagged and lacking sharpness and the overall presentation needs a second pass.
But it's still a cheekily addictive game that has dominated my train trips, toilet breaks and occasional hate-watching of Bachelor more than I'd like to admit.