FlingSmash Cover
Platforms Wii
Genre Destructive tennis sidescroller
MtAMinutes to Action 5
Keep Playing? I guess
Buy from Amazon

I had a craving for some motion gaming the other day. Skyward Sword’s mixed bag of waggle came and went six months ago, and the surprisingly smart Wii Play Motion ran its course last summer. It was time to try something new.

The list of Wii MotionPlus games on Wikipedia almost drove the craving away. Three years after the Wii remote finally got its necessary upgrade, a mere thirty-odd games support the device. Most have the unmistakeable stink of shovelware.

The only one that caught my eye was FlingSmash, a sidescroller where you smack a spherical character into bricks and junk. High concept, it’s not. But it seems like a good excuse to excitedly wave my arms around like a toddler with a bubble wand and a sugar high.

- FlingSmash has a Breakout, Gradius, and Wii Sports Tennis gameplay combination. Short ping-pong style swings with the Wii Remote will smack the spherical character around the screen like a pinball, breaking blocks and other objects to acquire points. The play field is constantly scrolling to the left, toward the goal. You can lose a life if forced to the right side of the screen for too long, but I don’t know the penalty for death: your character immediately jumps right back into the action.

- There’s little challenge in the early goings. In order to complete a stage, you have to collect three special medallions before reaching the end zone. There are at least four or five in each stage, so missing a few is fine. I never failed to get at least three in a stage on my first try through the hour, and my score rankings at the end of each level were never lower than "A" (I also grabbed a few of the highest "S" rank medals). Given the art style, it isn’t much of a reach to assume FlingSmash was made for those who just want to swing their Wii remotes and watch bright things zoom around and break, without any Game Overs bringing them down. Kids should love it.

- As we’ve come to expect from motion gaming, the controls are mostly accurate but have that disconnected feel, far from the “immersion” that PR teams try so desperately to sell. Flailing in FlingSmash will get you nowhere, literally: the game encourages short, steady swings, even making a point early on that speed has no factor in movement. A representation of your Wii remote position is tucked in the bottom right hand corner of the screen, and it was essentially “one-to-one” to the device in my hands. It takes a few stages to find proficiency in directing each hit, and even then a degree of separation exists between your actions and the character’s movement. Part of that is simply the nature of the game, though, and it balances with the relaxed pace appropriately.

- FlingSmash’s style is nothing to write home about, though I admit I’m enjoying the flutey melodies and upbeat tribal island themes. And there’s something about the yellow ball character Zip’s design that puts a smile on my face. I think it’s his big mouth: those clenched teeth struggling to imprison the spastic energy bursting around inside his little body, sending his twiggy limbs into a dancing frenzy. Also, FlingSmash could have easily been rebranded as a Kirby spinoff, given the existing similarities and Kirby’s design flexibility. Nintendo and developer Artoon showed some uncharacteristic IP restraint here, I think.

- The game also includes a lefty option. By default, the play area scrolls from right to left, a curious distinction in a sidescroller. But it’s just more comfortable to swing forehand-style than backhand-style, and so the game defaults to a leftward scroll for us righties. Lefties can flip the game so that the play field scrolls from left to right.

- Cooperative multiplayer is available for those with two MotionPlus-enabled Wii remotes. It must be pure chaos to have two of those characters flying around everywhere.

Minutes to Action: 5

Would I Keep Playing? I guess so. Things started a bit slowly, with some dull cutscenes and an unnecessary tutorial, but FlingSmash is good fun. That said, it looks like the eight stages and two bosses I played in this hour are just over a quarter of the game length, so there might not be much meat to this one. Given that it’s a basically free pack-in with a Wii Remote Plus, I suppose that would be an appropriate value.

Words from beyond the First Hour: In three hours of total play time, I've finished FlingSmash's story mode and checked out some minigames and extra stages. My feelings after the first hour persisted for the next two: FlingSmash is a fun but forgettable motion-controlled sidescrolling experiment. You could sink five hours or so into it, earning high ranks on all the story and extra stages, but the occasional dissonance between intended swings and on-screen reactions will keep your play sessions short, even if the arm fatigue doesn't. At least it's affordable: as of this post, the game-only SKU is going for basically nothing on Amazon. If you already have a MotionPlus attachment, you can score FlingSmash for four bucks, shipped.

Flingsmash Metal