Who gets a couple of hours to play any of the Nintendo-published games arriving this holiday season for the Wii and DS and starts with FlingSmash? Me. Yesterday I played a batch of Nintendo games. Throughout today, I'll tell you about them.
My tour of Nintendo's holiday games occurred in a hotel room in Times Square, where several representatives from Nintendo, mostly spokespeople, had Wiis and DSes loaded with unfinished, upcoming software.
I started with FlingSmash because, honestly, who is going to care about it once we start digging into Donkey Kong or Kirby or Golden Sun? Eating my vegetables before I had my dessert, I asked one of the Nintendo people to fire the game up.
FlingSmash is notable because:
1) It is the only Wii game from Nintendo this fall to require the vaunted but infrequently-supported MotionPlus add-on.
2) It is a new Nintendo-backed game that stars none of Nintendo's franchise characters.
3) It is another side-scroller from suddenly side-scroller-crazy Nintendo, which is also releasing side-scrolling Donkey Kong and Kirby games this fall.
4) The game does more to accommodate left-handed people than any other game I've ever played.
FlingSmash is, as the name suggests, a game that has you flinging a little yellow ball-shaped guy called Zip into blocks and other barricades. You fling him by flicking the MotionPlus-enabled Wii Remote. A display of your Remote on the screen shows how you have the controller oriented. Line it up as you'd like and then fling... and smash.
The trailer makes this very clear:
Note the music in the trailer, by the way. That cheerful tune in the beginning is very catchy. The Nintendo guy showing me the game kept humming it. It's stuck in my head too.
The lefty thing: By default the game had me flinging through the first level from right to left — side-scrolling in the reverse direction of Super Mario Bros., Sonic The Hedgehog and most of the rest of the games in the genre. It scrolled from right to left because, for a right-hander, going right to left
is compatible with a tennis forehand. You would hold your arm out to the right and swing it left, aiming the shot to get Zip to knock into the right barrier or ricochet at the proper angle to grab a key, avoid an obstacle, etc. Should you, as I did, try to play the game as a lefty, then you will be backhanding through the level. Backhanding feels less precise, to me. Thankfully, you can switch to lefty mode, which flips the whole game. After a reset, the levels scroll left to right, controlled by a left-hander's forehand. And you might think, this is more like Mario Bros., a game overseen by a left-handed man.
I flungsmashed my way through an intro level and then fought a boss, which is what you see in the screenshot up top. I'm not sure how much skill this game will require or if you will be able to just beat each level by treating the Wii Remote like an orange juice container that constantly needs shaking. I'm told the levels get more complex, that eventually you might be going up instead of just to the side and that things become more dangerous. I did learn that if you hang back while the level auto-scrolls a dragon or something will eat you.
The gameplay mechanic in FlingSmash is simple. This is an unusually pure gameplay-first game for this holiday season. The fiction doesn't matter. Just the swinging, for lefties or righties.
FlingSmash was a better starter game than I expected. Next would be... well, if I told you, you might roll your eyes... but next was the most fun game I played of the day.