Developer Artoon likes to play with plaformer formula. They added time rewinding in Blinx before it was made popular by Ubisoft with Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and integrated tilt control to create Yoshi’s Universal Gravitation.
FlingSmash is a mix of pinball and platfomer with motion control. As a concept, it’s clever and another way to demonstrate what Wii MotionPlus can do. While FlingSmash requires Wii MotionPlus, that won’t be a barrier. Every copy of the game comes with the new Wii Remote Plus. It’s the regular-sized black remote in the picture. A remote with Wii MotionPlus is on the right for comparison’s sake.
The yellow blob in the middle is Zip, the savior of Suthon Island and the star of FlingSmash. After arising from a treasure chest, Zip uses his amazing power of…um… crashing into Omminus’ dark minions to save the day. Before he can get to the game’s bosses, Zip has to smash his way through three stages. Levels in FlingSmash automatically scroll, usually to the left. Players swing the remote to hit Zip into blocks and away from the deadly Hydracoil that lurks at the back of the screen. Hang out too long and you’ll lose a life when the dragon-like creature eats Zip.
When I started FlingSmash I wanted to slam Zip into the level. I moved the remote back, as if I was recoiling a ping pong paddle, then forward to send Zip flying… or so I thought. Instead Zip flew backwards because the remote isn’t a racquet in FlingSmash, it’s actually Zip. Bump it up and zip moves up. Move down to send Zip towards the ground. A handy icon on the bottom right lets players know the orientation of the remote. Whatever direction you move the remote away from the center moves Zip in the same direction. In later levels, you want to send Zip into narrow passages or in specific spots to collect keys. The A button comes in handy here since it makes Zip stop in mid-air and wait for you to hit him. If he hits a block he’ll break it and bounce back. Wait a few seconds for Zip to turn red and he’ll fly through any block he crushes.
The goal of each colorful level is to collect at least three medals. You’ll need those to scoop up a sacred pearl at the end of the stage. If you don’t have enough medals, the words "blocked" float on the screen. The game isn’t kidding. Players are literally blocked from moving on until they earn the pearl. I had to replay a couple of stages just to learn when to crash into enemies that float by carrying a medal in their claws. The other medal challenge you’ll see often is when Zip gets sucked into dark space. He has to hit numbered blocks, each representing a medal fragment, in order to restore a medal. Knock a block out of sequence and you have to start all over again. These challenges have a time limit so you have to be precise and fast. Sometimes you’ll have to wrestle with Wii MotionPlus here because even though it is more accurate the gyroscope also has its limits.
Artoon created busy stages in FlingSmash with cannons that fire Zip through blocks and tracks to ride. Even though the game automatically scrolls many levels have branching paths. Padlocks push Zip on different paths by locking routes unless players can fling him at the right key. Pick the right one and you might get stars (collect 100 for an extra life) or precious fruit. Grab three pieces of fruit for a pinball inspired power up like split, which acts like multi-ball (multi-Zig?) or a giant Zig.
Every three stages there’s a boss to fight or… bounce on. Each hit to an unarmored weak point damages the boss. Empty out its life bar before time runs out and you win. Having two players in regular levels turns FlingSmash into a frenzy of swinging with Zip and his sidekick Pip ricocheting around the screen. During boss fights, two players makes FlingSmash a cake since you have double the firepower. Plus, one player can distract a boss while the other sneaks around for an attack.
FlingSmash takes only a few hours to complete, more if you want to get an "A" ranking in all of the levels to unlock bonus mini-games. While FlingSmash is a short game, it’s also a pack-in game. For $10 more than a standalone Wii Remote Plus you can get FlingSmash too. Compared to Wii Play, another remote pack-in, FlingSmash skirts the party genre and offers an appetizer of an original game. Artoon could’ve done more with FlingSmash’s concept by adding elements like characters with different physics or a level builder to extend the life of the game.