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Nintendo Wii Review: FlingSmash

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Although the Wii has been highly touted for its motion-sensing abilities, the cold fact of the matter is that many out there – apparently even the developers of the system – feel like the included motion-sensing abilities simply don’t go far enough.  Hence the birth of the Wii MotionPlus, a little add-on which helps the Wii translate a controller’s movements to an even greater degree.  MotionPlus has become an all but essential add-on for Tiger Woods, but the necessity of it being an add-on increases the cumbersomeness of the remote (and adding a nunchuk makes it worse).

Nintendo has now, we’re happy to report, worked that out.  They have managed to squeeze the MotionPlus into the basic remote, thereby giving birth to the Wii Remote Plus.  And, just like the Wii MotionPlus being bundled with Tiger Woods when it was first released, the Remote Plus is being bundled with a new title – FlingSmash (but unlike with Tiger, FlingSmash doesn’t cost more with the new remote).

That is the good news – the Remote Plus is a great two-in-one and certainly worth buying if you’re in the market for another Wii controller.  The bad news is that while the remote may be ready for primetime, it doesn’t feel as though FlingSmash is quite yet.  The game is a relatively basic one, and while that is fine, it doesn’t seem to accomplish its goals. 

FlingSmash has players control either Zip or Pip, some adorably cute round creatures who have been tasked with saving their island, Suthon, from an evil invader, Omminus, and his minions. The game is a side-scroller (although it does occasionally go to a vertical-scroller) without the ability to move backwards, which is essentially the only real complication in the game – in order to win levels you need to collect pearls, but once the opportunity to get a pearl has past, it’s gone.

Zip (and Pip, save for how they look they’re interchangeable) moves through levels by, well, flinging him into the blocks so he can smash them (see where they got the name for the game?).  Zip is flung by swinging the Wii Remote Plus in the direction you would like him to move.  Essentially, you play by imagining that you’re hitting Zip – if you move the Remote Plus from left to right, Zip moves right; if you move it up to down, Zip moves down.

It is an exceptionally simple mechanic, but even with the Remote Plus it doesn’t always feel as though Zip responds properly.  Additionally, despite the fact that you can stop Zip by pushing a button on the remote, you will end up flinging him in the wrong direction as you try to re-center the Remote Plus.  Beyond that, counterintuitively – and to the detriment of the title – the speed at which you move the Remote Plus doesn’t affect the speed at which Zip moves.  What that means is that as you get excited or need Zip to do something quickly, you will start to try fling Zip faster and annoying little guide pops up at the bottom of the screen telling you to calm down.  Zip does have the ability to fly through things via a supercharge and doesn’t travel at a constant speed, but not tying his velocity to the Wii Remote Plus’ makes the game a lot harder for those (like kids) who get truly enthused by such a mechanic.

Over the course of the game’s eight areas (with multiple levels per area), FlingSmash does manage to throw in enough changes, additions, and alterations to make the game constantly interesting and fun, but never quite overcomes the not-quite-ready controls.  Additionally, you do receive a ranking on each level and by performing well enough on all the levels in an area you unlock minigames (there are extra levels too).

It also must be said that one of the reasons that FlingSmash is being bundled with the Remote Plus is that it is only playable with either the Remote Plus or a MotionPlus controller.  That means that while two people can play simultaneously, both will need to be outfitted with the new controller or the add-on (I’m not suggesting that’s a negative, just making sure that it is clear).

In the end, FlingSmash, with its bright colors and great look, is an excellent idea for a game, it just doesn’t feel finished.  There is definitely fun to be had, but not as much as it promises.  The Remote Plus however, particularly as it doesn’t feel larger than the original Wii Remote, is a fantastic device.

FlingSmash is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB for Mild Cartoon Violence.

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About Josh Lasser

Josh has deftly segued from a life of being pre-med to film school to television production to writing about the media in general. And by 'deftly' he means with agonizing second thoughts and the formation of an ulcer.