Flung... and smashed...
The backstory of FlingSmash is muddled... something about an evil presence descending on a peaceful island. The bad guys start wreaking havoc and the island king is forced to unlock an ancient chest where our hero sleeps. Apparently, he's saved the island before, so I don't know why they locked him up in the first place, being a hero and all. Everyone else on the island looks more or less human, but the hero is round and yellow, and sports a red chonmage. Oh, and there's a three-headed dragon. I can't tell if he's good or bad, but he's definitely annoying. None of it makes much sense.
[image1]Fortunately, it doesn't matter. The only thing you need to know about FlingSmash is how to mimic the motion of a badminton swing. The best way for me to describe this game is like this: it's handball on rails. Your character is an anthropomorphic yellow ball that is set before a maze of obstacles and goodies. Smash the things blocking your path, bounce back, and do it again. Linger too long and a three headed-dragon will come from the lagging edge of the screen and eat you. That's basically it.
You'll need to capture three coins in order to advance to the next level. Other goodies come in the form of stars or fruit. Mashing three fruit icons gives your ball special abilities, like getting big or more powerful or splitting up into several balls, all of which allow you to smash more things with each fling. The play area constantly moves, so you only have a few seconds to get the goodies on screen. Spend too much time in one place and a hydra will gobble you up and plop you down further along the maze. You'll lose a life, and with it, the chance to gain something valuable.
You can get through this entire game without really thinking or planning at all. If you can swat at flies and miss, you'll probably be pretty good at FlingSmash. That's all you need, and you'll probably come out of this game feeling as accomplished as any old horse's tail. FlingSmash can be more challenging if you want it to be, although the rewards for good performance are lacking.
[image2]You can stop your character in mid-fling and correct its trajectory or have it absorb energy for a more powerful swing later. But these strategies are counter-intuitive, especially when you consider the name of the game and the hydra that is going to be coming along any second. Sure, your score will be better, but only slightly. A better score gets you some perks, but they are meager and really not all that worth it in the end.
Each 'world' of the game contains three main levels and a boss level. An 'A' grade on the main levels unlocks mini-games, all of which are disappointingly banal, like eating a big bowl of congealing, lukewarm oatmeal with no sugar. Unless you have no teeth and no taste, these mini-games are hardly a treat. Once you unlock a few of them, you'll stop looking forward to doing well.
You might think to yourself, "No worries! The boss levels is where all the action is, right?" Wrong. While the bosses look interesting, beating them comes down to the same thing: Get behind them and hit them in an exposed spot. By the time I finished playing this game, all I could do was sigh heavily and shake my head in disgust.
[image3]I really hate to be this hard on a game, so I sat for a while and thought about its good points. The sound effects are pretty good. Navigation is straightforward. Each level makes an attempt at changing the physics of the character or his surroundings. In one level, your character gets dipped in molten metal; in another, he bobs underwater; and hurricane winds sweep him up in a third. The difference in weight and viscosity matters, and though the most part the new worlds aren't all that imaginative, they at least fit into the island theme. There are only eight worlds, so the torturous gameplay doesn't go on forever. I rarely count 'too short' as a positive game attribute, but this is one time I'll make an exception.
The biggest plus of FlingSmash is the fact that it comes bundled with the new Wii Remote Plus controller. Purchasing the bundle is only ten dollars more than the controller alone. When you consider the cost, it makes things a little easier to swallow. Unfortunately, this doesn't make FlingSmash any less disappointing. When Nintendo released the Wii Zapper, it came with Link's Crossbow Training. That game was actually fun and it highlighted the accessory. FlingSmash, not so much.
When I think about that, I'd like to amend my short description of the game. FlingSmash isn't handball on rails. It's an accessory pimp. And not a very good one at that.