Blow us down! Fantasy Dash might just be the first of the 79p games that is worth considering. It gets over that line by a whisker, but it’s an achievement regardless. Well, an achievement without any Gamerscore.
Fantasy Dash has no real claim to the ‘fantasy’ prefix. There isn’t a sniff of a goblin or unicorn. But the ‘dash’ is more appropriate. This is an endless runner in its purest form: you play a cube, skidding from left to right on a scrolling 2D screen. Your only control is a jump with the A button, which can be held down to continuously bounce. Then spikes and blocks are hurled at speed from the right-hand side. You better get good at tapping the A button.
The controls do a job. The little cube’s jump is on the short and shallow side, which makes jumping over more than one spike a challenge. Stairs are even harder, as they’re double blocks, and you have to time them perfectly. Since Fantasy Dash likes to place these steps Mario-like at the end of the level, you’re going to be doing some of the hardest jumping right at the very last moment, when failure is the biggest of all bummers. When you die, it’s back to the start of the level you go.
We’d suggest that the collision detection’s on the harsh side. Nick a spike with the smallest pixel and you’re dead, when Fantasy Dash had wiggle-room to be more generous. Yeah, the controls are only okay.
Endless runners, on average, are challenging. That’s a hold over from mobile and their short sessions. But Fantasy Dash is extreme in its challenge. The difficulty could have done some tightening up, in our opinion: the levels (this is an endless runner with levels that do admittedly end) are slightly too long, with the hardest portions at the end, as we’ve mentioned. With more levels, keeping the challenge high but less prolonged, the levels would have felt more satisfying. To give you a yardstick, we died thirty times on level one on Medium difficulty.
Ramping the difficulty up high, even on Easy difficulty, when you have a linear progression of levels, has obvious issues. If you hit upon a level that you just can’t do, then you’re stuck. You can’t skip to the next level, and we’d suggest that Fantasy Dash would have benefited from a different approach. We’re not ashamed to say that we ditched the two hardest difficulties before the end, simply because we couldn’t leapfrog a diamond-hard level.
While Fantasy Dash’s endless running (that ends) is simplistic, jagged and a touch too difficult, there’s a huge amount of it. This is 79p remember, yet it offers four difficulties with eighteen levels in each, and the levels aren’t short. We’ve spent thirty minutes trying to complete one level so, yeah, the hours can stack up.
In your hundreds of deaths, you will be gathering stars which can be traded in for different-faced cubes. It’s cosmetic and throwaway, but Fantasy Dash didn’t need to bother, so we’ll be thankful. For 79p we’ll take it.
And there you have it. 72 levels total, each longer and more arduous than you’d expect, amounting to just over one penny each. We weren’t expecting a voiced campaign or a 100-player battle royale mode, so it’s at the top end of what we could have demanded.
Don’t misconstrue us: Fantasy Dash is a below average endless runner, lacking in finesse and variety, but there’s a lot of it and it arrives at the price of a pint of milk. As long as you don’t mind the absence of achievements, it might be worth that leftover credit on your account that won’t stretch to buying anything better.
You can buy Fantasy Dash from the Xbox Store for Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S
- Basic but works as intended
- Loads of levels
- 79p is undeniable value
- Leaves you no margin for error
- No variety
- Needed a difficulty ramp
- Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One
- Version reviewed - Xbox One on Xbox Series X
- Release date - 27 Dec 2021
- Launch price from - £4.19 (immediately discounted to 79p)