Apple Dash HD review: retro platform gaming is a hit on iOS

Apple Dash HD 3If you are over the age of 30, you are probably a fan of classic arcade games like Donkey Kong and Pac-Man. Those are the titles that turned us into the mindless video game addicts that we are today.

Apple Dash HD doesn’t look like the pixelated platformers of decades gone by, but it does play like one. Timing is everything and power ups will give you the advantage you need to get past ghostly enemies…


At first glance, this game doesn’t really look much different than your average App Store release. The graphics are colorful and cute. It could fit into the same design folder as Candy Crush Saga.

When you pay closer attention to the details, you’ll discover that little Dash has a number of different expressions, depending on what is going on. If he jumps, he will close his eyes tightly and raise his arms in the air. If he starts to fall off of a platform, he will get a surprised look on his face and will fling his arms around in circles, trying to catch his balance.

Every piece of fruit bobs to its own beat and the single-toothed ghosts float around, making your life miserable. Colorful sunflowers offer special bonuses to help you run fast or save the bees from their captors.

Each level increases in difficulty so that by the time you are a dozen levels into the game, you are busy avoiding spikes, trying not to fall off of breakable platforms, and doing whatever you can to rescue all of the fruit before you run out of time.

When you complete certain goals, you will unlock new hats for Dash to wear. These hats will offer bonuses like adding 15 seconds to the clock and extending the length of invulnerability.

Apple Dash HD 2Gameplay

The thing that makes this game so interesting is that, while it may look like a simple puzzle or physics-based game, it is actually a well-designed platform game that requires expert skills in timing and controls. Players must collect all of the fruit in less than two minutes. That may seem like a lot of time, but when falling off of a platform will set you back 30 seconds, you’ll soon find out that you don’t have the luxury of waiting for a ghost to go past you.

Players use a virtual left and right arrow on the left side of the screen and a virtual jump button on the right side of the screen. The controls work better than most virtual buttons in iOS games. Lag time or a joystick that is too loose for precision timing won’t irritate you. The only reason you will be irritated is by your own lack of abilities.

To complete a level, climb the ladder by tapping the jump button. Then, collect all of the fruit from bottom to top. You must collect every piece of fruit to pass the level. If you don’t grab all of the fruits before time runs out, you will have to start over.

There are colorful sunflowers that offer bonus power ups that will help you win. For example, one sunflower gives you super speed so you can get the fruit faster. Another sunflower makes you invincible so you can touch ghosts, making them explode and reveal the friendly bee that was trapped underneath.

If you do run into a ghost when you are not invincible, it will cover you with goo that will slow you down for a short period of time. While it doesn’t affect your ability to control Dash, every second counts in this game, and the less goo you get, the faster you will collect all of the fruit.

Once you’ve gathered every piece of fruit on the board, a bombardment of apples, oranges, and strawberries will fall from the sky. This is a bonus round where your goal is to try to collect as many pieces of fruit as possible in just a few seconds. Five letters will also fall from the sky during the bonus round. These letters spell out “bonus” and will give you extra points if you manage to get all five of them.

You will be awarded stars for your effort at the end of each level. Stars are earned for completing the level fast, collecting as many pieces of fruit during the bonus round as possible, and grabbing all of the letters. It is very difficult to get three stars, especially when two of them are based on your efforts during the few seconds of the bonus round. If you want to prove that you are a master at arcade style platform games, you’ll be replaying these levels a lot.

Apple Dash HD 1The Good

This is a great retro style of game, without the look. Many times, when I review a pixelated game, I hear complaints from readers who don’t like the old-school look of retro themes. This one has a polished look with a classic arcade feel.

The Bad

At the end of each level, your points are tallied. It is excruciatingly slow and there is no way to skip it. I’d really like the ability to skip past the scoreboard. Sometimes, you just want to roll quickly into the next level without losing momentum.


Apple Dash is $2.99. Normally, I would consider three bucks to be on the high end, but this game is worth the price. There are 100 levels across four worlds and each one has a very high replay value since it is so difficult to earn three stars. If you still think that the price tag is too high, or you don’t own an iPad, you can download the iPhone-only version for only $0.99.


If you are a fan of classic platform games like Donkey Kong, you will really enjoy this updated version of a traditional genre. Instead of going back in time with pixelated graphics, this game has a polished look for today’s technology, combined with old-school gameplay. This game is available as a universal app for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Download it in the App Store today. As mentioned above, there is also an iPhone-only version available.

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