After selling Wii Motion Plus bundled with a few games, trying to sell the inevitable Wii Remote with the Motion Plus functionality built-in was a foregone conclusion. Even so Nintendo clearly felt a bit shy about selling a Motion Plus-only title without the requisite pack-in: hence Flingsmash being available exclusively bundled with the new Remote Plus.
I’ll dispense with the story except to say it’s your disposable “control the hero and save the day!” garden-variety pablum. Flingsmash at its heart is an arcade-style score attack game that sees you whacking a cute, yellow ball character through a series of horizontally-scrolling levels (with the odd vertical moments for variety) smashing bricks, collecting pick-ups and bashing baddies.
There are alternate paths within the constantly scrolling levels encouraging replays to bump up your high score and the odd changes in level conditions to add some challenge. You’ll also unlock mini-games by earning “A” rankings in all three stages which comprise each of the eight levels for added play value (though the tennis games against the computer are rubbish).
The main problem I had was the actual play mechanic itself. Despite conceptually whacking the ball/character, the absence of any on-screen paddle creates a disconnect between the player and the action. Although there’s a graphical representation of the remote that tracks the angle in real-time, it can get pretty frustrating trying to get that last coin you need to clear the stage. Repeatedly swinging at the wrong angle and getting a pop-up message that you’re swinging too hard can take its toll, so when you get a message every few stages suggesting you take a break, it might be a good idea!
The few moments of frustration are balanced out by good motion tracking elsewhere; playing with a friend would likely also make for a more fun experience. Given the price is only 10 quid over the Remote Plus on its own, it’s not a bad deal. As long as you don’t go in expecting brilliance you can have a good time.
Tron Evolution: Battle Grids
Let me get my biases out in the open by stating that I’m a big fan of the movie, loved the arcade game and am looking forward to the new feature film, so I had no problem making a blind purchase here.
For fans of the arcade game who might have been hoping for emulated arcade classics, they’re not here so go back to that copy of Tron 2.0 on your GBA or good old MAME. Even purists can’t be too disappointed though, because what we have here is a re-imagining of the arcade classics and I have to say they’re more fun than the originals.
The setting of this game is a sort of golden age following the events of the first film where programs are competing in their version of the Olympics. A now-retired Tron (voiced by Bruce Boxleitner – woo!) is looking for a successor to inspire the new breed of userless programs known as ISOs who have joined the grid population.
I was pretty surprised at the extent of the story mode which features different areas to explore and characters to talk to. It’s not an RPG by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s pretty cool that you get to name and create a custom avatar (mine is S€@n – cute, eh?) to control in-game; and there’s loads of extra customisations to purchase later.
Playing through story mode unlocks other characters to play with, though I prefer to play with my own avatar. I haven’t tried multi-player yet, but other than the disc and tank games they’re the usual split-screen affair. If single-player is anything to go by then it’s sure to be a lot of fun.
The vehicle-based games are definitely the best. You have a choice of using the Remote on its side Excite Truck-style – with Motion/Remote Plus support for added accuracy – or plugging in the Nunchuk if you want to use a stick instead. Given the Wii Remote is thus far the perfect driving controller for home consoles I cannot see the point of the latter. The lightcycles are so much fun to race in both arena battle and racing modes, that you could have sold me the game with them alone, but there’s also tank battles, four-wheelers called “Runners” that race laps or battle in arenas, Hyperball (the first game we saw Flynn playing in the original Tron with the big scoops) and disc battles.
Considering this is a budget game and a film tie-in, it’s impressive how much effort has been put into the presentation and extent of the play offering. There’s extra vehicles to unlock by earning “bits,” high scores to compete for and an overall ranking to improve. You can replay parts of the story mode to find extra pick-ups and unlock extra game modes, play individual games on their own or create your own little tournament with NPCs to take the empty slots (or omit the competition in races if you want to do a time-trial). When you play the games on their own or in tournaments you’ll find you can adjust just about every meaningful parameter in the game to provide the right level of challenge.
The development team could have gotten away with cutting a lot of corners, but they didn’t to their credit. If you’re a fan of the film or even the original arcade game, it’s a safe bet you’re going to enjoy this; with four player support, so will your friends. Kudos to Disney Interactive for bucking the trend in poor licensed tie-ins. This one is definitely a keeper!