The new name describes it succinctly.
FlingSmash, formerly known as Span Smasher, is a unique game from Artoon that could best be described as a side-scrolling pinball game. A darkness has invaded the land, and it’s up to your ball-shaped character to take down the bad guys by ricocheting through a number of levels. The character design reminds me of Yoshi’s Island DS, which was also developed by Artoon.
Each level scrolls to the side or upward with the side-scrolling areas moving left for right-handed players and right for left-handed players. FlingSmash will require the Wii MotionPlus accessory (originally it was optional) as the developers found the game worked better by accurately sensing tilt along with force. In the basic gameplay, players fling at particular angles to smash objects, such as enemies or bricks, or travel down corridors. A tilt guide in the corner of the screen helps you calibrate your motions so that you can be sure you’re at your desired angle before flinging. It’s not exactly the type of game I expected to need MotionPlus, but some interesting things can be done.
The key to playing FlingSmash is to use full arm movements rather than wrist movements to do the flinging. The reason is that wrists tend to jerk in the opposite direction before their intended motions, which can send the ball in the wrong direction. Wrists also don’t have the uniform 360 degree movement that serves the game best.
Later levels in the game introduce different ball mechanics. In the third level, your character becomes a metal ball, which literally feels heavy – you have to swing harder to fight gravity. A boss fight ensues at the end of each world and they are quite varied. For instance, the first level’s boss must be attacked from the rear. The third world’s boss stage is stationary. You must inflict damage trying to knock the boss off of the stage—but after doing that a couple times, the boss returns with a metal helmet, making it much harder to get in an attack.
In each level, there are five medallions, most of which are hidden. At least three must be collected to clear the level and progress to the next one. A secondary purpose to the game is simply racking up as many points as possible. At the end of each stage is a set of stone columns. Several blocks within the columns change to a red color. Managing to break through at all of the red points yield major bonus points, but later levels require increasingly precise movements, both timing and angle-wise. A rank is given at the end based on points scored. Within the levels are minigames where you no longer control the ball directly. Instead, you control a hand that acts as a paddle, facing off against an opponent in a Pong-style game.
FlingSmash is a unique game to say the least. The game is kind of like an ever-changing pinball game, but you’ve probably never expended this much energy playing pinball. Its simple nature resulted in several Media Summit attendees mistaking it for a WiiWare game (Not that that’s a bad thing, but those games are less involved on average). I, too, am skeptical regarding the game’s depth from its initial gameplay, though each world does introduce new mechanics, which could keep the game interesting. Check below for some gameplay videos covering a couple levels and the first boss.