FlingSmash: It's All In the ElbowS

The Nintendo representative demoing upcoming Wii title FlingSmash, kept describing the game as an "active sidescroller."

While I wasn't exactly sure what to make of that genre tag, I did find myself recalling Super Breakout and Boom Blox while playing this fun, frenzied, sorta-pinball game.

Playing as Zip, a cross between Pac-Man and a fuse-topped bomb with Chiclet teeth, players utilize racket motions to propel the little guy horizontally through an obstacle-littered board.

Swinging the Wii Remote like a tennis racket will send him flying in any direction. The idea being that you want to wind up, aim, send him hurtling, and take out as much stuff as possible to earn points and progress through the board. But in order to do this, you'll need to target very specific items and paths; just flailing wildly won't cut it. Once you let Zip fly, he'll use his own built-up momentum to go nuts-not unlike a ricocheting pinball-busting through objects, sending things spinning, and racking up crazy points.

To get the most out of Zip's dizzying skills though, you'll occasionally want to slow him down and pull him back. This is done by pressing the A button, and repositioning him. Of course, if it were that simple, it'd be like shooting fish in a barrel. So, to keep you from taking too long to plan the perfect path and trajectory for Zip, Hydra Coils, sharp-toothed creatures with snapping jaws, come to feast on Zip if you're dawdling. Add to this the fact the screen slowly scrolls to the left, and you start to see the potential for your strategy-steered mind to collide with your twitchy reflexes.

FlingSmash also utilizes WiiMotion Plus, so waggling like you're playing Wii Sports Tennis will likely result in an embarrassingly low score. There's even a 360 degree HUD compass to show you exactly how you're positioned - I'd like to see one of these in all Wii MotionPlus - enabled games. The accuracy and physics are pretty spot-on, and after just a few minutes of flicking my wrist with mixed results, I learned to swing with my elbow for optimal Zip-flinging.

Unfolding over eight tropical worlds, each with three levels and concluding with a boss battle, FlingSmash, despite its simple premise, requires plenty of skill. Players proceed through the levels by collecting three medals from each one. While early medals are an easy snag for Zip, things get challenging fast. On top of the aforementioned hungry Hydra Coils, other random enemies can steal important items from the board, while screen-filling bosses block your progress until you discover their weakness. Of course, Zip's got some goodies in his arsenal too; power-ups, such as the Tri Ball split Zip into three smaller spheres to deliver a nice three-way spray of brick-breaking damage, and the Giant Ball...well, that one speaks for itself.

FlingSmash's core concept is loads of fun. It's got pick-up-and-play appeal that sucks you in with seemingly simple gameplay that eventually reveals itself to be quite strategic. The WiiMotion Plus support also goes a long way towards adding layers of depth to the game. It's not something you immediately feel, but after a few levels you learn that swinging the remote like a drunken monkey just won't cut it. The technology also pulls off some amazing physics and gravity-based tricks, like adding tangible weight to the portions where Zip is morphed into metal.

FlingSmash is a smaller title, but its fun presentation, coupled with accessible, yet deep gameplay could easily earn it Boom Blox-like cult status.