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FlingSmash (Wii) artwork

FlingSmash (Wii) review

"Seeing it from a general consumer's point of view, it's easy to understand why one would pass: an unknown IP starring what looks like a smiley-faced dodgeball with a ponytail, featuring what appears to be uninspired gameplay that could get repetitive fast."

Donkey Kong Country Returns, Sonic Colors, Kirby's Epic Yarn... Other M, the Wii had quite the lineup during the 2010 holiday season. And as with every season, certain titles were destined to be overlooked with hot products and exclusives coming out every week, since players had to choose carefully between household names and hyped games. To ease the pain of their wallets, of course. FlingSmash happened to be such a casualty, released in November at the very height of the season. Seeing it from a general consumer's point of view, it's easy to understand why one would pass: an unknown IP starring what looks like a smiley-faced dodgeball with a ponytail, featuring what appears to be uninspired gameplay that could get repetitive fast. Didn't help that it was bundled at full price with the then-new Wii Remote Plus, a compact version of the Wii MotionPlus. Now, would you spend money on a controller you already have, packaged along with a possible tech demo, or a safe bet like Donkey Kong Country Returns?

Well, speaking as a crazy person that owns FlingSmash and has yet to purchase Returns, the game has a neat, charming premise. With plot centered on an important island invaded by an abstract-looking antagonist, who then sets up a barrier of blocks, a legendary hero (and a selectable female that gets zero mention in-game) is called out of slumber to save the day. His name is Zip, and, well, he really does look like a smiley-faced dodgeball. His design intentionally comes to play with the mechanics, as you use the motion controller to fling this being through blocks, enemies, and various objects in a 2D-plane, smashing them in the process. FlingSmash, eh? Eh? Before you denounce the game for sounding too simple, there are factors that add some 'oomph!' to the action, like contending with auto-scrolling, and if you're not careful, you can miss important items. There's also the threat of Hydracoil, a three-headed beast that will gobble your protagonist if he chills in the corner too long. Then there's the important aspect, having to keep an eye out for three medals scattered in every round, which unlocks a pearl at the end. Failure to obtain all pearls in every world will deny you access to the boss fight and progress to other worlds.

Even with these elements in place, I had doubts the title could sustain itself for eight worlds. I mean, the first world, which felt like a training mode, is enough to turn many gamers away, but my worries eased up when I got my butt handed to me in the second world's first round, having a more complex design. This world has cannons galore, stationary cannons, cannons that move in a pattern, and certain cannons that send you to vital objects, like a key that opens a gate to a medal. From there, each new world offers a new variation on the Fling and Smash model, with one that turns you into a steel ball for rougher movement, and can also attach to swinging magnets. Another world transforms you into a tiny ball and placed in a tricky predicament, because your power-up shot (charged up through inactivity) is void in this form. While some worlds kinda falter with their unique take, like the wind world that annoyed me to no end with its stubborn currents, most are designed well enough to be enjoyed.

Now, those expecting something amazing or earth-shattering aren't going to be blown away with FlingSmash, as the game is unapologetic in its traditional approach to gameplay; collect 100 stars for an extra life, grab three fruits for a timed power, hit a certain goon for a mini bonus game, and there's even an end-of-round segment where you smash through a row of lit columns for extra points. The replay value is pretty oldschool, too, because FlingSmash is more or less dictated by a ranking system that paves the way for additional goodies. So if you want access to minigames and extra rounds, you gotta work your swing off to knock your hero through as many stars, enemies, special items, and combos to attain them. Getting the S rank is surprisingly difficult, as I never obtained a single S on my first runthrough, just a collection of As and some Bs. And I tried my darnedest to get those As!

If this kind of replay isn't your thing, then you won't get much mileage from FlingSmash. Plow through the game's eight worlds without much care for the ranking system, and you should be able to finish in four to five hours tops. I don't think adding more levels would solve anything, as it probably will make things repetitive. Raise the difficulty with these levels? Nope. The motion controls are pretty solid here, and the devs even added a small controller radar to show its position in-game, but even then, there's eventually going to be a breaking point the harder the game gets. The Wii's motion controllers just don't have the same preciseness as a normal controller for that to work. So, really, this is as good as this type of game will get on the Wii, and if pushed further, you'll probably get something like Ivy the Kiwi?'s mess. FlingSmash may not be on the same level as some of the aforementioned titles, but it will entertain if you like tackling its rank system. Just make sure you find a standalone copy like I did, since the bundle is questionably high in price.


pickhut's avatar
Community review by pickhut (June 06, 2013)

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