Sunday, June 20, 2010

E3 - Flingsmash on Nintendo Wii

Remember this simple rule, kids: Every video game needs a hook.  There must be something - a visual style, a gameplay idea, a novel element - that grabs your attention and your interest.  You look with a smile on your face and say, "I want to try that game out."  This is the hook, and it's the most important ingredient in any successful game.

A strong hook doesn't always translate into great games, so you are never guaranteed anything.  But I can promise you that all the mediocre, awful, formulaic games don't have hooks.  "Shooting things with a gun" is no longer a hook, not in the year 2010.  Flinging a cartoon character through 2D platform mazes like a pinball?  Now that's better.

Flingsmash definitely has the hook.  Here is an arcade game that makes me reach for some quarters; indeed, games like this make the strong argument for the return of video arcades.  The game involves smashing the main character through obstacles, mystery blocks, platforms, and various enemies, much like a tennis racket.  The title is so perfect, instructions really aren't necessary.  You fling the yellow-ball hero, and smash him into things.

This game reminds me so much of classic games like Breakout and Arkanoid, but also Kurururinpa on the Gameboy Advance, one of those quirky games that never left Japan.  There once was a time when Japanese videogames were synonymous with the quirky and the surreal.  These were the sort of games we'd read about in the pages of Diehard Gamefan, knowing they would never be released in America.  We just got an endless supply of mindless shooters.

I'm also reminded a lot of Sonic the Hedgehog on the Genesis, and that may betray the hand of Naoto Oshima, who's most famous for Sonic 1 and Sonic CD.  His company, Artoon, is responsible for Flingsmash, and it promises to be the most notable title in their recent history.  Oshima-san hasn't had a hit in so many years, and in this retro-minded mood of 2010, his time may have come.

This is a surprising game and could definitely become a sleeper hit on the Wii.  It was originally scheduled for an August release, but has been pushed back to the holiday season.  Let's hope it won't be quickly forgotten among the other blockbusters.  Artoon promises Motion+ support and two-player simultaneous action.  Keep your eyes peeled for this one.

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