Fling! more than a one-nighter that will have you back for more

Posted: August 9, 2009 in Puzzle

The simpler, the better. That’s seems to be the magic formula for the developers at Candy Cane. These guys were the brains behind Fuzzle, one of the more popular games in the early days of the iTunes store. Now, they’ve taken that “simplicity principle” and created a new game involving furballs aptly called Fling! that on the surface looks relatively harmless. But, spend a few minutes with this game, and you may find an addictively challenging logic puzzle that never plays the same twice.

While flinging objects into other objects to knock them off the board until only one remains is nothing new, Fling does two things well: polish and replay value. Go through the game, and you’ll see what I mean when it comes to the polish conveyed throughout from the menus and tutorial to the game modes and soundtrack. A good deal of thought went into the planning of this game, and it’s apparent each time you play the game.

Each of the furballs more or less has a face and comes in a variety of colors. Beyond the blinking and occasional tightly closed eyes, the little guys aren’t especially animated. The sound effects are minimal, although the lighthearted soundtrack creates a jovial feel. To move these guys, you simply flick them with your finger and off that zip down the screen to knock off one of their hairy companions. Fling also a terrific tutorial that reviews the rules and provides a visual walkthrough of everything you need to know.

Fling has 3 modes of play—Arcade, Free Play and Challenge. Both Arcade and Challenge are timed modes while Free Play is untimed and allows for puzzles to be completed at any pace or even skipped altogether.

In Arcade, the objective is to complete as many puzzles as possible within a limited time to score points. I find that the game generally provides easier and less complex puzzles for a longer duration before dropping the really difficult ones. While there is limited time in Challenge, the objective here is to solve a specific number of puzzles within each level before progressing to the next level. The task is to solve several within each level, and the difficulty varies widely from level to level.

Free Play provides puzzles and unlimited time to solve each and statistics are tracked based on the time to completion. What’s great about Free Play is that a thumbnail is also kept showing each solved puzzle along with the best time. And, as mentioned, you can skip puzzles and revisit them later at your leisure.

Unlike Free Play where you can revisit levels later on once they are unlocked, that option is not available in Challenge mode if you start a new game. I accidentally did that, and I had to start back at level 1 even though I had completed through level 10. However, my previous times were still provided at the beginning of each level as the time to beat. This is based on personal preference, but I would think it would make sense to be able to select any levels completed. Having said that, Fling will auto-save separately for each of the three modes.

Based on your skill level and depending on whether you play at the easy, medium or hard level of difficulty, the puzzles start off easy enough that you’re thinking this will be a breeze. But that feeling will be short lived because more furballs appear forcing you to be a little more creative in your logic, and remember that each puzzle has only one solution. Fortunately, Fling includes two key features: an Undo button located in the bottom left corner of the screen and a Hint button in the bottom right corner of the screen. The undo function is unlimited so you can use as many times as necessary, which you will. For hints, a limited number is provided for each level, and they will move a furball to get you started. The hint option only works when first starting a puzzle or if you undo all the way back to a puzzle’s original state.

A game that involves only flicking furballs may sound limiting, but within the established rules and the different modes of play, it’s surprisingly entertaining. All furballs are created equally, and if you ever do get stuck or fail to solve a puzzle within the allotted time, you can use the hint function to show you the solution. The scoring in particular within Free Play mode doesn’t allow for a comparison for scores if you decide to re-solve a puzzle which hopefully is addressed in the future which probably be addressed in an update. In addition, the game is strictly a one-player experience at this point, although a “friend’s challenge” mode could add to the replay value. An achievement system may also be something to consider such as the fastest time to solve a puzzle on a per level basis, for solving puzzles without using the Undo function, or even certain milestones for number of puzzles solved (e.g. 10, 25, 40).

Fling is great puzzler that while not offering the most sophisticated-looking game offers a rewarding experience that will have people coming back for more. Too often, developers try to be too creative which in turn makes a game overly complex and ultimately unsatisfying. Fling, on the other hand, is a well thought out and well planned game that follows the “simpler, the better” rule…successfully.

Albie Meter: 4.5 Stars (well-implemented game with several modes of play; simple rules don’t make this game any less challenging; Hint and Undo functions round out a solid puzzler)


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