Published on October 1st, 2015 | by Patrick Garde0
Power Ping Pong Review
Power Ping Pong kind of gives away what the gameplay is going to be based on the title. It should be clear to anyone that the iPhone, iPad and Android game developed by Gasp! and published by Chillingo is based around the sport of Ping Pong or Table Tennis; although the game gives you a slightly more arcade-y touch to it, to make sure the player enjoys the game to the fullest.
The gameplay should not come as a surprise; it’s basic ping pong. You have a player on either side of a table; they each have a paddle or table tennis racket, and must return the ball to the other player by hitting it with the paddle in the hopes that their opponents misses the ball, or botches that shot. The first to 11 points wins, providing the leading player has 2 more points than their opponent.
Thankfully, Power Ping Pong isn’t just about basic ping pong; it adds the arcade-like nature that makes it that much more fun. As a player, you have access to slowing down a shot that has just come flying towards your face, which otherwise you may not have been able to return. Since your opponent has the option to send stupidly fast shots towards you, it’s only fair that you have the same option, of which you do. Swipe two fingers when you take a shot and that little ping pong ball is going to be a force to be reckoned with in the shape of a fireball.
Other than the generic ping the ball back and forth between your opponent, as well as the addition of slowing down time, and making a flaming ball, you can also do lob shots by swiping down to keep the ball in the air for a lot longer. Then there is also the swipe, I believe it is called, where you swipe your finger horizontally across the screen and it will produce the ball to spin and curve. It’s not the easiest move to pull off at first, but it certainly does feel good once you’ve hit it. Lastly, you have the smash which is what you get when the opponent has lobbed the ball in your direction. You’re given the chance to watch the ball get to a certain point, at which a yellow circle around the ball will appear, you hit that shot and the opponent is going to be having a fun time trying to return it.
In terms of gameplay, you could easily say that Power Ping Pong shines at first due to the solid gameplay. For the majority of the gameplay that I’ve experienced so far, I’ve been impressed. There are a couple of times, however, where I feel the game may not have delivered the shot I had just produced perfectly, but it doesn’t happen all that often to be considered a major issue in the game.
The game has 3 separate modes of play, but doesn’t change on the gameplay side of things too much: the first is Arcade. Arcade is the main portion of the game, where you will work your way up through the ranks of a cup (tournament) to fight the best player they have. With each victory against an AI opponent however, you will be treated to a stats screen, which will show you your grade on the match, and areas where you excelled or areas where you didn’t, like aggression. It’s a nice way of realizing how you play, while subtly mentioning what you might need to improve on as a player.
Along with every victory, you gain experience that fills up a bar; once that bar is filled you will gain a skill point. That skill point can then be used to unlock some extras to help you in-game, like turning the ball into a bomb that you’re allowed to set off in the opponent’s side to stun them for a bit and give you the advantage in that round.
The second is Sensei mode, where you will be rallying the ball between you and Sensei. He won’t, however, drop the ball at any time and give you a point, but, instead, you are given score for every successful hit you return to Sensei. You have a set number of lives and it’s your task to rack as high a score as possible before Sensei mops the floor with you, as the more shots you return, the more likely he is to be a tougher opponent for you. From the moment you start, it only gets more difficult!
Lastly is Online, which is fairly self-explanatory. You can play either online using Game Center to find an opponent, or you can play local multiplayer with a friend. From the looks of things, the online player-base for this game isn’t exactly what you might be hoping, as I haven’t once found a match while searching. So unless you have a friend to play this game against, you’re only going to be going up against AI, I’m afraid.
To go along with the fun, arcade-like gameplay, the game also totes a unique graphic style that just oozes character. The art style in the game is based on a kung-fu/martial arts type of theme, where your trainer, Sensei, is an elderly man who is a master of the Ping Pong arts. You can’t ignore the graphics in this game as they are present in every section of the game you come across, be it the area’s you play, the character models, or even the animations. I mention the animations as Sensei likes to do Yoda-style flips sometimes when he returns a shot to you. Simply put, though, the visuals are stunning.
Many games on the App Store and Play Store have a reputation of having in-app purchases, which for a game you’ve just purchased; it’s not such a nice surprise to see that there’s even more for you to buy. Power Ping Pong doesn’t even touch them! When looking around the game, I couldn’t find a single instance or mention of in-app purchases. The one place you would expect them to be is in the store, of which I checked and there were none in there. All that was there were items you had to purchase using in-game currency, currency which you can’t actually buy either. You play the game; get some coins for it, and then you can use those coins for new items. It’s good to see a game give you complete access to its content the moment you’ve purchased it.
In the game store you can purchase a number of things to help you within the game: you can buy paddles that have different stats tied to them; some of these paddles have more power, whereas others are bigger, making it easier for you to hit the ball. You can also buy items to use in-game, like an extra ball (life) against Sensei when you’re in survival mode. As well as specials, like a skill point which you can add on to your skill tree to unlock something new for when you next play.
Not all games are perfect, however, and Power Ping Pong is no exception, even with the number of positives it has so far. One negative is that the Arcade mode may be too long for some. If you find yourself really enjoying the game, getting to grips with it and all that, it shouldn’t take you more than a few hours to clear through the Arcade mode, providing you don’t get stuck. All in all, the game is relatively short. That’s the main negative, and this next one is relatively minor, but it gets annoying: sometimes I don’t quite swipe harder enough for the game’s liking. To combat this, Sensei gives you a tip at the bottom of your screen, telling you, “not to be afraid to hit the ball harder.” I see it so often it’s just annoying, and has no reason to appear so much. If I have an issue with my shots not being hard enough, I’ll make that change myself, as eventually it will be noticed. The game popping up with a regular reminder is unnecessary, and quite frankly, just annoying.
Overall, though, the game is solid. The gameplay and controls are simple to get the hang of, but with the increasingly difficult AI that will come your way, it will keep you on your toes to make sure you’re still getting that challenge you would want and expect. That, along with some gorgeous graphics make for one good looking iPhone, iPad and Android game that you wouldn’t really want to miss. I do feel the game is a bit steep in price at nearly $5, as well as a tad short for some players, but for the most part, the game is a net positive. It’s hard to find areas in the game that I dislike at all, so my recommendation for this game is going to be an easy yes, if you can just look past the price.
Summary: The steep price tag may put a few players off, but if you can look past that you’ll have an arcade-ish ping pong game that has solid controls, stunning visuals and gameplay that will keep you coming back for more. You’ll have Gasp! (developer) to thank for that and Chillingo (publisher) for noticing the game’s potential.