For 10 bucks more than the cost of a Wii Remote Plus you can pick up the new Nintendo controller with a copy of FlingSmash, Artoon's paddle-ball platformer. Is it worth it? Let's see.
FlingSmash is a rather ballsy name for a game on a platform that began life plagued with television-damaging controller throwing. When I first received the game and its bundled Wii Remote Plus, I stripped off the protective rubber covering of the controller and scoffed at the use of the remote strap, because I am a mature adult that knows how to control himself. About an hour into playing through story mode, which involves swinging the Wii Remote Plus to bat about a ball-shaped hero through multiple levels of obstacles, the Wii Remote Plus slipped out of my hand and nearly took out one of my cats. There's a lesson there somewhere. There's a game review right here.
Anyone in the market for a Wii Remote Plus that happens to have a spare ten-spot laying around, or parents trying to teach their children the proper way to swing the Wii controller.
Why You Should Care
Aside from it being packaged with the Wii Remote Plus? FlingSmash is one of the relatively few games that makes use of Nintendo's enhanced motion-sensing functionality, and only the second Nintendo-published title in North America to require it.
So what exactly are we looking at here? Putting it as simply as possible, FlingSmash is a side-scrolling pinball game with a singular mobile flipper that moves in any direction. There's a tropical island that's been invaded by the evil Omminus, and the spherical legendary hero Zip (or his female counterpart) must save the day by smashing through three levels and a boss for each of the game's eight worlds. Players use the Wii Remote Plus to bat Zip around the screen, smashing enemies and bricks while collecting coins that in turn unlock the magical pearls needed to take on each world's boss fight. Oh, and there's a multi-headed dragon-chasing Zip through the levels, which explains the scrolling. The game's structure is pretty formulaic, but it's a formula that's worked for Nintendo on many occasions.
And it's packaged with the Wii Remote Plus. Does it make good use of it? Yes and no. There is definitely some one-to-one motion control going on here. There's a little circular indicator in the bottom corner of the screen that tells you so. I'm just not so sure that indicator and the actual gameplay have anything to do with each other. When I am playing FlingSmash, my instinct is to draw back my arm and give my little spherical friend a powerful smack, sending him flying across the screen. A message pops up from time to time telling me not to do that. Apparently FlingSmash wants me to take smaller, measured movements. That would be fine if I had time to line up each shot. Unfortunately there's a multi-headed scrolling mechanic behind me at all times, ready to swallow me if I spend to much time planning, so of course I swing like a madman.
You seem a little frustrated. That's because I am frustrated, and for good reason. I see the promise of FlingSmash at every turn. The delightfully whimsical music, the colorful, memorable characters and epic boss battles; these all point to a game I should be loving. As each level scrolls by I see the sort of tricky events Artoon has put in place, waiting for the perfectly precise shot to set them in motion, but I swing the Wii Remote Plus, Zip goes in a different direction, and I lose that feeling.
Right: Zip's friend Pip is every bit as capable, yet she's not the legendary hero. I call foul.
Is there no enjoyment here at all then? I wouldn't say that. Some of the unlockable mini-games are quite entertaining. In fact, the game improves substantially when you add another player. It's easier to forgive missing a shot when you've got two pinball creatures flying about the screen and two Wii Remote Plus controllers flying through the air. I'd say the key to enjoying FlingSmash is not caring too much about accomplishing every goal and making every trick shot. My problem is that if you give me five coins to collect with every level, then I'm going to throw myself at the game until I've collected them all, and that's when the frustration is at its worst.
FlingSmash In Action
The game is playable alone or with a friend.
Each stage kicks off with a brief intro that introduces the stage's particular gimmick, in this case, skipping across water.
Scoring a gold or higher in each levels three stages unlocks mini-games, like this tennis match.
Boss fights put your flinging and smashing skills to the test.
The Bottom Line
If FlingSmash weren't a Wii MotionPlus game, I probably would have enjoyed it more. With its colorful cartoon world, quirky characters, and its overall sense of whimsy, it shares traits with many of the Nintendo classics I've come to adore over the years. Unfortunately it is a MotionPlus game, and for me that indicates a level of control and precision that the game never truly achieves, and I'm left flailing about instead of falling in love.
FlingSmash was developed by Artoon and published by Nintendo for the Wii, released on November 7. Retails for $US49.99 bundled with the Wii Remote Plus. A copy of the game was given to us by the publisher for reviewing purposes. Played through all eight game worlds single-player, played a few two-player co-op levels, and tried out a few of the unlocked mini-games.