I must admit to feeling a bit gutted when the Motion Plus add-on came out for the humble WiiMote. When I first picked up a Wii, I went to the effort of getting extra WiiMotes and Nunchuks, making sure that I had everything that I needed for multiplayer fun whilst spending a huge amount of money. Then Nintendo came along and suggested that I buy what in my mind is an ugly lump of plastic for each of my WiiMotes in order to make them more precise and allow me to play certain Motion Plus supported games in the way that they were intended. I didn’t want to spend more money and I certainly didn’t want any more lumps of plastic, not to mention the problem that I would have with the individual charging docks that I had already forked out for.
Anyway, quite some time has passed and, to be honest, my classic WiiMotes are all looking a bit worse for wear, most of them sporting a slightly off-white colouring now which really is not attractive. The announcement of a new Wii Remote Plus, incorporating the extra precision of Motion Plus with the regular size of a WiiMote, came at just the right time. I am not saying that I will replace all of my WiiMotes in one go, but at least I can make a start. The new Wii Remote Plus is a nice piece of kit, offering much more accuracy for Motion Plus enabled games, without the ungainly feel of using the add-on. Hopefully, as the new controller is now being bundled with various Wii packages, more developers will make use of this function.
But my first Wii Remote Plus came packaged with a little game called FlingSmash, the focus of this review. Costing only a few quid more than buying the controller by itself, it made sense to grab it with an extra game, especially one that is said to show off the capabilities of the Wii Remote Plus. Even though FlingSmash effectively only costs a few pounds, is it actually worth the players investment in time?
Said to be like some kind of mutant cross between tennis and pinball, the game is actually more like a scrolling version of the classic brick breaking games. The main character, Zip, is a ball-shaped hero that has been roused from some kind of hibernation to save the islands from disaster as the evil Omminus has covered them with blocks. Using the Wii Remote Plus, the player must hit Zip along the screen, breaking blocks and collecting enough coins to unlock the pearl for each of the stages. Sounds pretty simple.
And simple it would be, if it worked properly. The problem is that the game is all too random. The idea is that the player quickly hits the ball in the direction of the blocks that they want to break, or the collectibles that they want to pick up. A small image in the bottom right of the screen shows in which direction they are swinging the controller. But without any on-screen indication of where the actual point of contact is, being accurate with the aiming is kind of hit and miss. The temptation is actually to swing the controller wildly and hope that Zip flies off in the direction intended.
It is possible to stop Zip in mid flight and carefully take aim, or indeed charge the ball-shaped hero up for a power shot of sorts. But with the screen scrolling and an ever-present threat of being eaten by the many-headed dragon that attacks if Zip loiters near the right of the screen too long, it is more often a matter of swinging in the vague direction and then hoping for the best. All things considered, FlingSmash does nothing to exhibit the power of Motion Plus.
The player works through three stages and then takes on a boss battle, rinse and repeat. During each of the three stages, Zip will collect points from items and such, and the final score is translated into a rating. By scoring “A” in all three stages of a given section, the player will unlock a mini-game which will inevitably involve more random bouncing of the main character. None of this needs to be done alone, mind you, as a second player can join the fun and control Zip’s little buddy, Pip. Whilst certainly increasing the fun, playing two player also increases the annoyance of the slightly random nature of the game.
The majority of the levels are reasonably straight forward and easy, with the occasional themed level coming along and challenging the player to think differently. This relatively low difficulty level, when combined with the chaotic nature of the controls, actually makes the game quite ideal for youngsters, as long as they don’t mind retrying the more awkward stages a number of times. Most seasoned gamers will be able to finish this game in just a few hours, but young children will be kept busy for quite a while, spurred on by the cute and colourful graphics.
As a stand alone game, FlingSmash doesn’t really have a lot to offer. The lack of accuracy will simply annoy the perfectionists out there who want to get the highest scores and collect everything, and regular gamers will be put off by the shortness of the title. But the game is not stand alone, it is packaged with a new controller, meaning the game only costs around a fiver. And for that price, you really can’t argue. FlingSmash is not a game to rush out and buy, but if you need one of the new Wii Remote Plus controllers, you may as well pay the extra and keep the kids happy for a while.