Pong Quest, PC

This modern take on a retro classic sees you take control of a “brave young paddle” on a quest to unlock the mystery of “The Spooky Door”.

Pong Quest is of course a re-imagining of the classic Atari arcade game, Pong, with cute, colourful graphics, a large variety of different Pong balls, and single and multiplayer play modes.

The single-player quest mode is challenging and fun, and the key to progressing is to master use of the various different Pong balls that you collect as you explore. The adventure begins with a daft (but funny) conversation between you and King Pong, where he asks you to retrieve his “precious orbs” from a variety of themed dungeons, the doors to which he will lead you to, once you’ve completed the trainer dungeon.

Inside each dungeon the aim is to explore the different rooms, collecting cash, Pong balls, keys, and experience, and beating the various characters you encounter in “Pong battles”. Some rooms are single-screen locations, while others are much larger and scroll around as you move through them. Any hostile characters will chase you if you get close to them, and if they catch you, you’ll have to beat them in a Pong battle.

A Pong battle is basically a head-to-head game of Pong ‘tennis’, with you trying to outwit your opponent by sending balls past him, while at the same time trying to stop him doing the same to you. When you fail to return a ball you lose some health, but the battle continues. It only ends when you run out of health. The same goes for your opponent, and the idea is to knock his health down so that you win the battle.

The key to winning Pong battles is to understand the ball system, and how to switch between balls during play. And the key to that is in collecting the right Pong balls before battle. By “right” I mean: the balls that you like and know how to use. The “Curve Ball”, for example, is an early ball to acquire, and can prove quite useful. When you select it during a Pong battle it will swerve around and make it difficult for your opponent to return it. The “Potion Ball” is another vital early ball to master. It will replenish some of your health if used during battle, so it’s pretty wise to pick one or more of them up before entering battle. You can only carry so many balls into battle, but the good thing is: by beating opponents you can earn various upgrades, one of which increases the number of balls you can carry.

As the game wears on the battles become harder, the dungeons bigger and more complex, the balls weirder, and the features more varied and outlandish. There are vortexes that will pull you in and force you into a Pong challenge in order to escape; there are various puzzles to undertake, including a Concentration variant and a Simon-like game; and a variety of challenges given out by friendly characters that you meet in each dungeon. Each dungeon also contains a boss battle at the end of it, once you’ve found the boss key and opened the room containing the actual boss itself. Beat the boss and it’s back to the King to face the next dungeon.

The game has RPG elements that also make it interesting, like a minimap (which can be gradually enhanced by earning upgrades); a Roguelike room randomizer (every time you play the dungeon layout changes); over fifty different types of balls; outfits for customising your character; traps that stop you from leaving a room until you beat an opponent inside it; shops, where you can of course buy balls, outfits, and medals – if you have the cash; and a journal showing the statistics of your quest mode games.

The single-player quest mode is fairly absorbing in itself, and there are also a number of multiplayer modes too. There’s an online Player versus Player mode; a split screen local battle mode; and a local classic mode. Up to four players can take part in multiplayer games.

I quite enjoyed Pong Quest and it even made me laugh out loud on occasion. It’s nicely presented and is more detailed than you might think. The only disappointment I felt was that there was no way to use analogue controls during the game. The original Pong used analogue paddles, but in this you’re stuck with keyboard controls, or gamepad, with no provision for mouse control or paddles. Not that I could see anyway. If I’m wrong about that, please let me know in the comments.

More: Pong Quest on Steam

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