I have always had a preference for strategy games because of the challenge. They provide me with those little head scratching problems that force me to puzzle over possible solutions. Browsing through the app store I came across this one. From the makers of the highly successful Fuzzle, the puzzle game that consists of moving coloured balls around the screen to create rows of five or more balls of the same colour comes Fling, the number one selling app in over four countries worldwide or so I am reliably informed by the developers, CandyCane.
CandyCane have developed four games to date. Fuzzle, Fling, Melodica and Shipwreck. All available through the iTunes app store and all costing just 59pence. Compatible with iPhone, iPod Touch and now the iPad and available in five languages (English, French, German, Spanish and Italian) Fling, over the last few weeks has become my new guilty pleasure, although for me at least, it does not live up to the same game play standards of my favourite game on my iPod, Cut The Rope. Fling is available as a free app with limited difficulty levels or an 18.5MB full version (download time of roughly two minutes) with over ten thousand challenges, each one with it's own unique solution.
The concept of the game play is fairly similar to that of peg solitaire where upon you have to remove all the pegs from the board by jumping over other pegs. The difference with Fling is that instead of pegs you have various coloured fur balls and rather than jumping you push or to be correct to the games namesake "fling" other balls out of the way. The end result is still the same, there must only be one fur ball left at the end of the game in order to complete the level and progress. There are currently four optional play themes available which include marbles, footballs, fruit, turtles and the default theme, fur balls. Marbles is free to play however, the remaining three themes must be purchased at an additional 59pence each. An unnecessary ploy to extract additional funds from the player considering the games are exactly the same and in my opinion and that of my four year old daughters the fur balls are by far the most appealing.
There are four game play modes in total each with three levels of difficulty (easy, medium and hard) reclassified by me as hard, near impossible and is there anyone on earth who can complete!. Arcade mode where by you have to solve each puzzle as quickly as possible before the allocated time runs out. Difficulty increases with each game completed and the quicker you solve the puzzle the higher your score. Free play mode which offers 30 levels in total each with around five or so games to complete. Choose any difficulty level with no time limit and with the option to skip and return at a later date to complete but only as long as you have previously unlocked the games. Challenge mode where by you are playing for either gold, silver or bronze trophies. You are up against the clock and will only proceed when the levels are complete and finally frenzy mode which in my opinion is by far the hardest and most frustrating. You are playing to fling as many balls off the board as you can whilst the computer continues to fill up the board. There are thirty seven levels altogether but you are only eligible to play this final mode once you have completed up to level twenty in free play. A limited number of hints are available throughout the games and my personal advice would be to use wisely and only in times of desparation. Once hints have been used up you can continue to use more, but theres a catch. For each hint you use, over and above your original allocation you will be burdened with another level to complete!
To keep things simple there are only two basic rules to Fling that apply to all games modes, levels and difficulty settings. Firstly, you can not fling a fur ball into a neighbouring fur ball and secondly, you can not directly fling a fur ball off the board without hitting another. You have it on very good authority from me, that simple as this game concept looks and sounds in practice it is just not that easy. I have taken months to scrape through to level twenty, my score on the global leader board is woefully pitiful and I may even have bald patches developing where I have started to pull out my hair trying to solve puzzles! I am now wholly convinced that this game was developed to drive the player mad and five stars to CandyCane for that achievement. On the whole the entire app is intuitive and easy to use. Instructions are clear and concise and the screen layout is simple to use and navigate. All that's required during game play is a simple light swipe to fling the balls making game play very easy.
The game is suitable for small children (rated 4+ on the app store). Extremely easy for a small child to grasp the concept of the game but inevitably a little too challenging, particularly as the difficulty increases for them to complete but none the less it will keep them amused. Part of the appeal is, as always with these style of games the graphics, music and sound effects, all of which will almost certainly appeal to children. Ditsy background music that would not sound out of place on a child's cartoon coupled with the "whizzing" sound as fur balls knock into each other will be favoured by children but adults will probably, like me, be tempted to mute because there is no escaping it, it's annoying and overbearingly loud when the iPods volume is set to maximum. Visuals are good yet no where near as sharp as the game sleeve/promo advert will lead you to believe. The grass background uses several shades of bright green to enhance the grass effect but I personally don't think that it has the desired result producing an almost hazey/smeary appearance (almost as if my screen is slightly smeared). It's not enough to detract from game play but simply annoying that more care has not been taken to perfect the graphics. Likewise the same applies to the fur balls themselves who appear "visually" a tad dated. That said, visuals are clear, bright and colourful which helps to add a little interest but some variance through the levels would certainly be welcomed.
There is no doubt that this is a fun and challenging game yet regardless of the developers claims that there are over ten thousand unique levels (I will take their word for it as I'm perfectly sure that I am never going to hone my skills enough to advance past my current level of twenty, which I struggled immensly with to achieve) I can't help the feeling of deja vu the further I progress through the game. Whilst I don't doubt that there are thousands of levels available, a lot of the time I'm left thinking "I've done this before". I really feel that play itself is fairly limited, afterall there are only so many combinations of flinging a ball that can be achieved before the game becomes tedious. Personally, it's a game I really enjoy and at 59pence you certainly get your monies worth and then some but this app struggles to retain my interest for any more than about fifteen to twenty minutes, mainly because it does feel so repetitive but also because it is so damn frustrating at times to complete the individual games. Either the number of levels should be reduced to try to limit the impending feeling of repetition or the developers need to introduce other game play concepts to keep it interesting. A change of theme, colours anything that would just break the monotony of the game. It's fun, I would definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys simple yet challenging games but it is certainly not my favourite. It's a game I can put down and stop playing as quickly as I can pick up and start.
Automatic save feature for all games
High scores on any difficulty level can be saved on three different settings.
Local: High scores for individual game play
Friends: High scores via a link to your Facebook account
Global: Submitting to a global stat leader board
Sound effects and music: on or off
Automatic high scores: Will offer to upload your scores to local and global leader board
Help tips and explosion effects: on or off
Change Language: English, Deutsch, Spanish, French and Italian
Current Version: 1.6.2
Age: 4 years and over
Updated: Last update in February 2011 (bug fixers, new icon for iPhone 4)