FlingSmash’s reliance on a very basic, flawed control scheme saps most of the fun from all of your flinging and smashing.
- Flinging and smashing provide occasional moments of satisfaction.
- Shallow, repetitive action
- Imprecise, frustrating controls
- Terrible final boss battle
- Grating music and sound effects.
It’s rare for a game’s title to sum up the entire gameplay experience as aptly as the term FlingSmash manages to do. This is indeed a game in which you do lots of flinging and smashing–and nothing else. But despite its accuracy, the title is also somewhat misleading. The idea of flinging and smashing suggests a kind of childlike glee in the act of destruction, but you’ll find precious little enjoyment here. FlingSmash is available for $50 with an included Wii Remote Plus, a new version of the Wii Remote which eliminates the need for the bulky MotionPlus add-on. But if you’re in the market for a Wii Remote Plus, you’re better off just picking one up for $40 because FlingSmash is too shallow, repetitive, and frustrating to justify even an additional $10 cost.
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FlingSmash tells the story of Suthon Island, a paradise that’s home to the powerful Great Palm Tree. When an evil creature named Omminus comes to sap the tree’s power for his own foul ends, the leader of the local nature spirits awakens an ancient hero to recover the isle’s sacred pearls and restore peace. That hero turns out to be a spherical creature named Zip, and your role in FlingSmash is to fling Zip (or, if you prefer, his female equivalent, Pip) across the screen, smashing blocks and enemies in the process.
You don’t have direct control of your chosen hero. Instead, you launch Zip or Pip around the screen with waves of the remote. Your primary goal on all three regular stages in each of the game’s eight worlds is to collect three medals and earn yourself a sacred pearl in the process. Medals are carried around by enemies or just tucked away in nooks that the screen scrolls past at a steady clip, and you just need to bring Pip or Zip into contact with them to collect the medals. (The screen scrolls from right to left if you indicate you’re playing with your right hand, and vice-versa for left-handed players.) If you stop swinging for a moment, your character charges up for a supershot, making your next fling capable of smashing some blocks an ordinary fling can’t. You can press a button to make your character stop in midair, giving you a bit more accuracy to set up your next fling, and you can collect power-ups that make Zip or Pip big, split them into multiple spheres, and give their smashes more power.
That’s all there is to it. Minor changes occur on occasion–sometimes Zip and Pip are turned to metal, making them heavier, and sometimes they are miniaturized–but these transformations don’t do anything to change the core gameplay. The lack of direct control makes you feel removed from the action, and the constant wrist wagging needed to toss Zip and Pip around gets old very fast. There’s little danger to your hero’s well-being, so most of the time, you can just fumble your way through stages, keeping an eye out for medals as they turn up, but it doesn’t make for compelling gameplay. The only real threat as you progress through most stages is a creature called the Hydracoil that nips at your heels and gobbles up Pip or Zip if they dally too long at the back of the screen. But avoiding its jaws is easy; all you have to do is keep moving. It’s more likely that you’ll reach the end of a level without having collected the three medals you need to acquire the sacred pearl, which forces you to repeat the stage from the beginning. No level lasts more than a few minutes, but having to repeat any part of this already very repetitive game is just a chore.
On rare occasions, FlingSmash’s shallow concept provides a bit of pinball-like enjoyment, as you fling Zip and Pip into targets to maximize your score. But the controls constantly undermine this simple fun, and because there’s nothing to this game outside of its one mechanic, when the controls don’t work properly, the whole experience falls apart. It’s not that FlingSmash doesn’t read your inputs correctly; an onscreen image of a remote always reflects your movements with impressive precision. But your swings often affect Pip and Zip in frustrating and unpredictable ways. It’s not uncommon for you to swing the remote to the left, only to see Pip fly upward. And regardless of the forcefulness with which you swing, sometimes Zip zooms like he’s been sent flying by a Louisville Slugger, while at other times, he moves as if blown by a gentle breeze. It feels less like you’re precisely flinging Pip or Zip across the stage and more like you’re tugging the leash of an animal that has some ideas of its own about where it wants to go.
These issues are especially problematic during boss fights because you often need to hit a specific weak point or move out of the way of an attack, and the controls simply lack the precision needed to reliably enable you to do so. This is particularly infuriating during the final boss battle, a multistage affair in which the lack of precision is often to blame for you failing. And when you fail, you must repeat the entire maddening battle from the beginning. You’ll very quickly come to wish you could just point a thumbstick in the direction you want Pip or Zip to go and push a button to make it happen, rather than rely on the poor, imprecise, and tiring remote-swinging mechanic.
FlingSmash has a very simple, colorful look. Pip and Zip’s smiling faces tell you that they’re as happy as clams to be hurled about the screen, smashing blocks and destroying enemies. The trails they leave behind as they soar across the screen also suggest that they move with great speed and destructive power. You see the same basic blocks, cannons, and other objects in the foreground throughout the game, but the backgrounds, which include flower gardens, underwater seascapes, and other tropical sights, lend some visual variety. The soundtrack, on the other hand, is cheery to the point of obnoxiousness, and the constant squeals of Zip and Pip quickly become irritating.
Scoring enough points in levels rewards you with access to minigames and extra stages, but these are all based on the same shallow and imprecise flinging that runs throughout all of FlingSmash. Playing with a friend makes the onscreen action more chaotic as both Pip and Zip gleefully smash through the blocks in their way. But their similar color schemes make it tough at times to tell the two heroes apart, and the controls remain too poor and the action too uninvolving. FlingSmash’s vibrant visuals and very simple gameplay suggest that it was designed with young children in mind, but everyone, regardless of age, deserves better and more substantial games than this one. This is a one-trick pony whose only trick isn’t that impressive when it works, and whose whole routine falls apart when it doesn’t, which happens often. This makes FlingSmash both a poor game and a poor showcase for the capabilities of the Wii MotionPlus with which it’s packaged. Don’t play this game. Your wrist will thank you.