Simple Pong Review

2014-11-02-002010

Title: Simple Pong
Developer: ZeShirky
Game Type: PlayStation Mobile
Download:  32 MB
NA Availability: 
Digital Download
EU Availability: Digital Download
PSTV Support: No

In the world of gaming we have now, we can look back to a lot of classic games and see games that are virtually on every system imaginable now.  Can you sit and think of old games you can find on virtually every console in existence?  Think about truly old titles, or even games that didn’t even start on console gaming.  Games like Monopoly.  Pac Man.  Mega Man.  Sonic the Hedgehog.  The list goes on and on and on.

As we think about these games, we can also look for them on the Vita.  From the list mentioned above, Monopoly and Sonic can both be found on the system, mostly through backwards compatibility with PSP titles.  While the Vita, itself, doesn’t get a lot of these older titles, it does get it through other means.  PlayStation Mobile has been the venue for some of these games as well, and continues as we get into the review we have for you today.

Among the oldest of the games that have still gotten releases on new consoles is Pong.  If you remember Pong, you’re a veteran game.  Pong was a Tennis-like game on arcades way back in the 1970s.  Thanks to PlayStation Mobile, Pong has been reborn on the Vita.  Here is our official review of the PS Mobile title, Simple Pong!

Story

As with most older games, Pong doesn’t have a story or plot attached to it.  This was back in the early, early days of gaming.  Before the NES.  Before the Sega Genesis.  This was back when games were incredibly simplistic and the idea of games with deep plots and stories hadn’t been conceived yet.  But a good way to say Pong’s plot is that it’s a game of Tennis.

In Pong, you are paddling a ball back and forth, as you do in the sports game of Tennis.  There is no story behind it.  There is no deep plot for why you’re doing it.  You just are, and that’s how Pong has always been.  As you look into this purchase, don’t buy it for story, and be sure to know what Pong is before jumping the gun and downloading the game.

Gameplay

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Pong is a game that plays very similar to the sport Tennis.  On each side of the screen is a bar that functions like a paddle or racket.  Between these two bars is a small ball that is constantly moving.  If the ball manages to slip past your paddle, the opposing side will score and the ball will reset in the middle of the playing field.  The goal is to always be able to put your paddle against the ball to hit it back to your opponent’s side of the field and maintain a higher score than them.

All of this is there in Simple Pong.  When you boot up the game, you are immediately thrown into a game, ball moving and all.  There is a score area on the top of the game and you are put into the position of making sure you get the highest score than the person playing with you.  There is no tutorial.  There is no big part of the game to tell you what to do.  Like the nostalgic games from its era, you are just thrown into the action and must figure everything out from there.

There are a few problems with Pong on the gameplay level.  While everything about Pong is there, and there is an easily-accessible Reset button to reset your score for a new game, this developer has not put in any sort of AI opponent or a leaderboard or Score History system to log your high scores for the game.  The Leaderboard system can easily be added in later, but more confusing is the lack of an AI opponent.  Pong is supposed to primarily be a single player game.  Simple Pong is not.

When you begin the game, you have control of both paddles with different controls.  If you leave one paddle alone, you can have a single player game, but the opposing paddle won’t move until you hit a button to move it.  You are in charge of controlling both, removing the challenge of the game unless you have someone locally with you to hold onto the same Vita you are and use the other paddle’s buttons to play with you.

The problem with this system is that holding the system with only one hand and having someone sitting next to you also holding it is awkward.  It’s not unplayable, but it is awkward and confusing as to why there isn’t an option for an AI opponent.  Pong is supposed to be a single player and multiplayer game.  With no online multiplayer option and no AI option built into the game yet, Simple Pong is a Local Multiplayer game only.  The developer, for whatever reason, did not put one of the most crucial parts of the game into it.  Unless you want to try to control both paddles at the same time, there is no Single Player option.

Apart from this, the main goal of the game is different from a normal Pong game.  Normally, 11 points is the end of the game.  Whoever reaches 11 points on their score wins the game.  In Simple Pong, and the developer mentions this on the PlayStation Store, there is no cap to the score.  You simply play until you don’t feel like playing anymore, or you just reset the score yourself.  You can play until you hit score 11 or 50 or 900.  There is literally no limit on how you, or you and a friend, can play it.  There is no ending sequence.  You just keep going until you want to stop.

All in all, a game of Pong could last you 60 seconds or 60 minutes, depending on if you have someone to play with and how skilled the two of you are.  However, if you don’t have someone to play with, there’s little point to playing the game at all.  Without an AI opponent, this is a multiplayer-only game and unless they patch it with AI, requires two people to play it.

Controls

Controls for Simple Pong are an interesting bag.  Because of the fact that the Reset Button requires touch input, the game has not been made compatible with the PlayStation TV.  It will only be played on your PS Vita, but that is the only control that requires the touch screen.  Moving the paddles will be handled by the buttons on the system.

Regarding controlling the paddles, you will be using the D-Pad and Face Buttons for this.  The paddle on the left can be moved up and down with the Up and Down D-Pad buttons and the one on the right can be moved with the Triangle and X buttons.  These controls do make sense for the Up and Down features, especially the D-Pad controls.  These cannot be re-mapped, though.  With no Menu built into the game, you will have to deal with them as they are.

The control scheme isn’t a bad one to get used to.  The most awkward part about the controls will be trying to hold onto one side of the system while Player 2 holds onto the other side of it.  Since there are no wireless options, it has to be done on only one system.  Similar to the Monopoly PlayStation Mini title, but more or less at the same time than in turns.

Presentation

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Pong requires no extensive presentation, and that’s one of the things this game does well at.  With PlayStation Mobile, most games are to assume you will have very lengthy load times and many PS Mobile games have less-than-smooth gameplay.  Being a Unity game, Pong does excel at its presentation, offering only about 5 seconds of time to launch the game completely, which is easily half if not less than half the time it takes most PS Mobile games to boot up.

The gameplay also runs very smooth.  Pong has a very simple and retro presentation, as it needs to be.  Pong has never had anything more than very basic 2D visuals.  As you play the game, you won’t see beautiful graphics, but just two paddles and a ball as you play the game.  There is no music in the game as has been the case since the original Pong.  It does run smooth, though.  As you play the game, you’re never going to see any lag or slowdown when moving the paddles.  Everything runs as perfect as the original game did.

Summary

Simple Pong is an attempt at bringing the classic arcade game to the PS Vita.  While the concept of Pong is in the game, it is brought down by the fact that the developer forgot a lot of the basic features.  Without an AI opponent, limit on the scoring system, or Ad Hoc/Wifi Multiplayer, this is a forced 2-player-1-system game that is missing core elements to make the game playable.  Even for the minuscule price tag, it would be best to avoid this purchase until the developer can patch the game to make Single Player possible. 

3/10

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