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Platform(s): Wii
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Artoon
Release Date: Nov. 7, 2010


Wii Review - 'FlingSmash'

by Dustin Chadwell on Nov. 26, 2010 @ 12:30 a.m. PST

When the tropical Suthon Island is invaded by the evil Omminus, the ball-shaped hero, Zip, is summoned to save the day. Using the Wii Remote controller with the Wii MotionPlus accessory, you'll fling Zip at targets to smash your way across eight colorful worlds.

FlingSmash was designed to spotlight the Wii MotionPlus accessory, and it does the job by including a new Wii MotionPlus controller inside the box. The MotionPlus controller is an old-school Wii Remote with the MotionPlus accessory built in, so it resembles the standard Wiimote without the boxy attachment at the end. It's a nice, streamlined effort on the hardware side, and I can definitely see it replacing my other controllers in the near future. Is FlingSmash worth playing? I'd say yes, but only because if you take into account the value of the included controller, you can consider FlingSmash to be a $10 game. It's a far better pack-in title than Wii Play, which some gamers might remember from early in the Wii launch window. FlingSmash feels like a dedicated adventure instead of a series of minigames, and it'll take you a few hours to complete.

In FlingSmash, you take on the role of two guardian beings: little bouncy ball characters that are designed to be tossed around to smash blocks, collect items, gather medals, and fight off bosses. You've been held in waiting on a small island until this predetermined day, when you're awakened to fight off an evil force that's ruining the way of life for countless villagers. Your little yellow bouncy ball character — named Zip or Pip, depending on your gender preference — is not your typical heroes, but they provide the main gameplay element: smashing everything on-screen as quickly as possible.

The game features auto-scrolling levels, which typically move left to right, with your hero character (I chose Zip) being dropped into play on the left-hand side. On the bottom right of the screen, a small display shows the current placement of the Wiimote within your hand, and you can use this as a reminder or marker to let you know how you're going to hit Zip. This is physics-based gameplay, so if you hit Zip from the bottom, he'll bounce up and down repeatedly before coming to a stop — provided he doesn't run into an obstacle or walls that change his trajectory.

There are some stage variations, including vertical stages that'll have you scrolling upward. It's not a huge change; instead of swatting Zip from left to right, you'll be going down to up, but it provides just enough of a change to keep the gameplay interesting. Along with that, the heroes will occasionally change their properties, so instead of being a lightweight yellow bouncy ball, you'll turn into a heavy metal ball, which makes you play completely different from before. This requires you to change your basic strategy and make new plans to advance through a stage. Finally, you'll occasionally get your hands on power-ups, which can make you super-sized for 10 seconds, or give you the ability to split Zip into multiple copies. It's kind of like getting a multi-ball ability on a pinball table.

There's plenty of stuff to smash and collect in each stage, of which there are three in FlingSmash. There's basic stuff, like stone blocks that can be smashed with just one hit, and other items, like gem power-ups, that'll change the stone blocks into large jewels to be collected for extra points. There are other items, like keys that'll unlock different pathways, special score blocks that you can chain together to increase your score, and then bronze-colored medals to collect. The medals are the most important because you'll need to collect at least three per stage to advance. Collecting fewer than three means you won't unlock the pearl for that stage, which you'll need in order to advance to the boss fight at the end of the world.

The boss fights aren't particularly remarkable. They usually require you to use a really obvious weak point and fling your hero against that point over and over again. These stages really are the toughest part of the game, though; they're certainly the only area where I actually died, so at least they provide some type of challenge. To give the developers some credit, they tried to change up the boss types, but regardless of the setting, the mechanic remains the same throughout, and by the time you reach the final boss, it feels a little stale and contrived. It's all about hitting the correct trajectory to avoid the bosses' defense, and once you realize you're doing the same action again and again, you'll probably bored with it.

Thankfully, the stage design of the individual levels makes up for some of the tedium in the boss fights. There are enough variations between the different worlds that each stage will feel pretty fresh and new. Granted, you're still collecting and smashing the same objects within each stage, but the setups change, and optional paths have you going back to a stage over and over again to improve your score. Finishing FlingSmash is a pretty easy task, but if you want to earn an S ranking on each stage, you're going to spend quite a bit of time with this game. There are very precise paths that you need to take throughout each stage to maximize your score, and it'll take some very precise movements to reach those paths. It's a case of finding the challenge within the game, so you'll get out of it what you're willing to put in.

For those who aren't concerned with high scores, FlingSmash is a short game. I'd be a little more disappointed if FlingSmash had been a standalone title from Artoon and Nintendo. It's a fun little game, and it's even more enjoyable if you get a second player in on the fun, but it's a quick ride that lacks any memorable moments. It's also a little simple on the visual side, as it doesn't really push the hardware. It also offers up some very limited color palettes in comparison to other notable Nintendo titles like Mario Galaxy, Metroid: Other M, and the more recent Donkey Kong Country Returns. It could certainly use a little more style to jazz things up a bit, and it's not something that I can see gamers spending a lot of time with during the crowded holiday season.

If you've been in the market for a new Wii Remote, than you might as well fork out the extra $10 and pick up FlingSmash.  Not only are you getting a new Wii Remote MotionPlus, but you're also getting a completely serviceable standalone title that features a new cast of characters and an interesting, if somewhat gimmicky, play style. It has some great controls and shows how precise the Wii MotionPlus can be for one-to-one accuracy on swipes and movements, but the game won't hold your attention for much longer than the three to four hours that it'll take to complete.

Score: 7.5/10

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