Before SuperMash starts, it warns the player that what the games it makes can be fun and work or be messy and not work at all. Even after being warned, I wish I’d experienced more of the promised fun and not the dry, buggy cliched games I got. Golf Story this is not. Saying that, there is a novel concept pushing SuperMash: what sort of game would you get if you mash together two different gaming genres? What happens when you mix the platforming of something like Mario with the stealth gameplay of Metal Gear Solid? Will a shoot-em-up work with a JRPG?
This concept is tied together by a simple but inoffensive plot where some friends find a game console that can combine cartridges into one title. To move the story on from there you’re mostly just mashing together genres to complete basic objectives, like completing a certain number of mashes or mashing particular genres. To be completely fair, this didn’t need to have any sort of story to work, so the extra effort is appreciated, and the characters are likable in their own right.
You’re here for the mashes though right? Thankfully, combining games is as simple as selecting the two genres you want, setting the difficulty and length, and then getting to play your creation (alternatively you can just let the game mash something randomly instantly do it for you). The game will then pull from a pool of assets per genre and try and mash the two together as best it can. Despite the initial joy of seeing some of the weirder stuff the game can come up with, that novelty is pretty much where the fun runs out.
No matter what genres you mix, the end result is almost always the same. You’ll be placed into the gameplay style of one world with some of the aesthetic choices of the other, often feeling completely inconsequential. When I mixed together a JRPG with a platformer, I simply gained the ability to jump whilst exploring, which didn’t change things up at all. There I was thinking I’d get some sort of Paper Mario-esque experience…
The limited range of objectives doesn’t help this at all. It almost always equates to finding a certain object, or collecting a certain amount of items, or killing a certain number of enemies and that’s it. Even if you feasibly started to enjoy one of your mashes (which you likely won’t), it’s usually over before 10 minutes have passed, so you never really feel like you’re making anything worthwhile.
SuperMash Review – Randomly Generated Frustration
To try and keep things interesting, SuperMash also has a range of random glitches that can benefit or hinder the player. Much like the main concept, this works on paper, but in execution is really just an annoyance. The glitches are entirely random so how much they’ll disrupt your enjoyment is random too, but one of them had fire appear every few seconds I didn’t attack… in a JRPG gameplay style that wouldn’t let me attack frequently enough to not keep getting hit by the flames. See the problem? There are glitches that can cause you to randomly change direction, glitches that can make your screen tilt and so many more that just feel like they’re really trying to ruin what little fun you might have been having. It is luck of the draw here, but that’s not a fun gameplay element to tack onto what is an already pretty boring gameplay loop. On the other side, the “good” glitches often just make the mashes overly simple.
In all fairness, there are a few worthwhile features besides the curiosity factor. For starters, some of the art used in the genres is actually pretty well-done, and I could usually tell what style the game was trying to emulate. There are also cards you unlock after completing each mash that give you certain assets that you can then re-use for later mashes. It’s nice that if you like a certain weapon or character you can then use them at a later date. You can also save your mashes if you like them enough to go back to them, as well as sharing them with others using a special code.
There’s also the random element to consider. Although I’m confident in my lack of enjoyment, there’s also a chance that I simply didn’t get lucky enough with the generator to experience the sort of thing that the game wants the player to. With the repeated assets and glitches, that seems a bit doubtful though. SuperMash‘s biggest problem is that no matter what genre you play, none of the games are actually much fun. Everything that I created felt like something you’d see on one of those cheap handheld consoles that come with over 100 games, with the same number of glitches as well. Yes, the concept is interesting on paper and occasionally in execution, but it feels like it’s missing the point of the games it’s trying to replicate. You can look like Metal Gear Solid, but you can’t play like Metal Gear Solid.
SuperMash is an unfortunate example of a concept working better on paper than in execution. Whilst the mashing system is fun to mess around with and watch the first few times, that magic quickly wears off and all you’re left with is the poorest imitations of great game genres.
SuperMash review code provided by publisher. Reviewed on PlayStation 4. For more information on scoring, please read our Review Policy.