PONG Quest (Switch, PC)

For the longest time I thought the first video game I ever played was Pac-Man.  But it was actually PONG, I just didn’t realize it at the time.  You see, when I was very little, my dad built our very first TV.  He ordered parts and instructions through a place called Heathkit.  This was in the late 70’s, so it was a great big old wooden monster that looked like a piece of furniture.  But that TV also lasted well until I was in high school!  He also built a metronome with Heathkit, and one of the other extra things he added to the TV was a home PONG clone that you could pull out at any time and play if you changed it to channel 3.  I was so young at the time, though, that I didn’t realize this was a video game, just something you could do if there wasn’t anything on TV.  Anyway, that’s my PONG story.  Never would I have imagined that someone would combine PONG with a dungeon crawling RPG, but now you have PONG Quest.  It’s available for Switch and PC, but reviewed on Switch here.

In the game, you’re tasked with saving a kingdom full of talking paddles, and you are a paddle yourself.  You can customize your paddle with colors and outfits (I especially like that there are red and green overalls), but all that is purely cosmetic and just for fun.  You must venture into multi-floored randomly generated dungeons to defeat opponents and tackle a boss in each one.  Sometimes dungeons have treasure chests with coins and balls for you to equip, and you can use those coins to buy new outfit parts and balls at shops randomly placed in the dungeons.  Other times you might be able to play a small mini-game puzzle to earn more goodies in these mazes.  Each floor in the dungeon also has a side quest to complete, like defeating all the monsters, NOT battling anyone, or mapping all the rooms on a floor.

When you bump into an enemy paddle in the dungeons, a battle will ensue.  These take the form of classic PONG matches.  Each time you or the opponent hits the ball, you lose one hit point, but if you or the opponent miss the ball, you’ll lose even more.  Whoever loses all their hit points first, loses.  Using the L and R buttons, you can switch out different balls that activate when you hit them.  Some balls will heal you, while others deal extra damage or bounce in different ways.  And some can provide other defensive and offensive capabilities.  There are 50 different balls in all.  The game can be challenging, especially if you’re like me and aren’t very good at PONG, but luckily if you lose a battle, the penalties aren’t very harsh.  You just get kicked out of the dungeon and must start the last floor over.  If you win a battle, you gain experience points and when you level up you can choose upgrades like more hit points, extra slots to hold balls, and more.  Defeated paddles can also drop coins, outfit parts, or balls.

One of my favorite things about this game are the references to other Atari titles in the gameplay.  The first dungeon in a prison with lots of colored blocks.  You must fight a lot of enemies who use blocks that you must hit with the ball to clear them, just like BreakOut!  The BreakOut cabinet even had a picture of a guy breaking out of prison, so that was a neat touch.  The next dungeon is called the Crawling Forest, and enemies use mushrooms and centipedes to block your way!  Other subtle references include Asteroids and the 2600 QuestWorld games!

Aside from the main quest, you can also challenge up to four friends in updated PONG matches, as well as the classic black and white game.  You can even battle online.  Only problem with the game is that it’s a bit repetitive and the dungeon crawling is uninspired.  Back in the PSOne days, there was another PONG remake that was just as creative as this, if not more so.  But if you really like classic gameplay and are good at PONG, you may want to check this out anyway.

Kid Factor:

You can whittle down other paddles’ hit points down by bouncing a ball into them, and defeated characters just lean over or fall down with a sad face.  So yeah, not very violent at all.  Reading skill is helpful for the text, and younger gamers may find it too difficult or repetitive.  PONG Quest is rated E for Everyone.

2 Responses to “PONG Quest (Switch, PC)”

  1. I saw this game on Xbox several times and was curious about it. Your review has decided it for me. I will get it next time I’m in the store.

  2. good concept. I’ll probably skip it though. Nice that it turned out good though.

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