Numbered blocks need smashing multiple times before they cough up coins, moving position after each hit, while various power-ups – earned by collecting three of the same fruit – split Zip into three, increase his size, or give his shots more power. Certain paths are locked with keys, while switches temporarily turn blocks into gems, awarding a substantial points boost. At the end of each stage are five barriers: smash through the moving red sections of them all and you'll earn another score bonus.
In the first four worlds, Artoon makes a half-decent fist of adding variety to this most basic of concepts. One world has you guiding a metallic Zip who needs to make effective use of moving magnets to get anywhere. The next sees our spherical chum shrunk to half his normal size, and minus his super-shot ability. Vertically-scrolling sections and various tricks and traps make the coins slightly harder to get as you progress, while the dragons which snap at your heels should you spend too long lining up a shot get quicker and more aggressive.
Not that you should worry about them too much, as lives are fairly easy to come by. Collect 100 stars and you earn an extra heart, and it wasn't until the penultimate world that I lost one. The stars also contribute towards your level ranking: in what is presumably a savage satirical swipe at the grade-grasping standards of the modern educational system, the lowest rank you can earn is a B. Get an A for each of the three levels in each world and you'll unlock an extra mini-game, offering – you guessed it – more flinging and smashing.
The S ranks are surprisingly tricky to obtain, theoretically adding replay value. But for a high score chase to be enjoyable, it needs a level of accuracy the controls simply don't provide. Some of the scores required to reach the top grade are incredibly exacting and a single lucky ricochet can be the difference between a great score and a bad one.
By the time the final two worlds have rolled around, your heart will be as heavy as your throwing arm – which is obviously the perfect time for the game to start getting cheap. An underwater world sees the pursuing dragon periodically unleash an attack which, should Zip be caught in the current, instantly shoots him off the side of the screen at the loss of a heart. It's relatively easy to avoid when the controls are working, but an unfortunate bounce or a misread motion can lead to frustration.
The multi-form final boss, meanwhile, is a ludicrous difficulty spike. One particular attack is more often avoided through luck than judgement, and it was only thanks to the seven hearts I farmed from earlier levels that I managed to finish the game.
According to the PR blurb, FlingSmash apparently "combines the hands-on fun of tennis with the non-stop action of pinball", but it's more like the arm-knack of the former coupled with the infuriating randomness of the latter. As a showcase for the hardware it's bundled with, it's a complete failure, and even given its brevity it feels like as much of a waste of time as it is a waste of money. If you absolutely must have a Wii Remote Plus, then buy it separately. FlingSmash's title might be short, snappy and to the point, but the game itself only manages the first of those three.
3 / 10