FlingSmash

Motion dismissed.

Version tested Wii

In an age when videogame names are getting longer and rarely arrive without at least one colon, it's good to see a title as brisk and instantly understandable as FlingSmash. It's a Ronseal kind of title: you fling a ball and it smashes things. And you'll be doing an awful lot of that from the game's start to its finish, a little over two hours later. Yes, you did read that correctly.

Costing a little more than most Wii games, it comes bundled with the Wii Remote Plus – the same size as a standard remote, but with the additional precision of the MotionPlus doohickey that came bundled with Wii Sports Resort and Red Steel 2. The upshot is that the new remote is less heavy and cumbersome, and it functions just as well as if not slightly better than MotionPlus – not that you can really tell from this game. An hour on Wii Sports Resort confirms that it works just fine. Here? Not so much.

You play as either Zip or Pip, the ball-shaped heroes tasked with rescuing Eesturn and Suthon Island (Whesstun and Nauthon are presumably unaffected) from a badly-designed evil demon thing called Omminus, who has blighted the land by – but of course! – showering it with large blocks. Zip has handily been kept in a box since the last time this happened hundreds of years before, and your duty is to use him to smash all the blocks and retrieve all the sacred pearls which protect the island's Great Palm Tree.

As you can see, Artoon has effortlessly maintained the thus-far unblemished record of developers being unable to create an even halfway decent plot for a block-smashing game. Why they continue to try is a mystery for the ages.

1

Bosses all wear some form of protective armour, and invariably you have to bounce Zip off the sides of the screen to hit them from the side or behind.

Chucking Zip is ostensibly a simple matter of swinging the Wii remote in the appropriate direction. The remote's orientation is shown at the bottom right of the screen, and it responds perfectly to every wrist movement. The trouble is that Zip doesn't.

Because you're not making contact with anything when you swing, the game has to guess the point at which you're hitting the ball. The results are, with crushing inevitability, inconsistent – and problematically so. Instead of a more natural flicking motion you're actually best off keeping your wrist locked and moving your whole arm in the right direction. This seems to work a little better, but it feels odd and uncomfortable after a while. Good job nanny Nintendo suggests you take a break after each world.

The controls aren't too much of an issue on the more sedately-paced early worlds. Starting out at – hold onto your sides – Biginnah Island, you're asked to rescue three of five coins to unlock the all-important pearls at the end of each stage. Coins tend to lie behind several blocks (the challenge being to smash a route through before the level scrolls by) or in areas off the main path, or sometimes even carried by enemies. Whack Omminus during one of his sporadic cameos, and he'll take Zip to the 'dark space' where you need to perform a certain task to earn the coin.

Some blocks require a super-shot to destroy. Zip takes a second or so to charge up one of these, making a 'hnnnnngh' noise that sounds like a supermarket own-brand version of Yoshi's flutter jump and is in no way irritating when you hear it 73 times per level.

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