Review: PONG Quest (PS4)

Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4
  • Xbox One
  • Nintendo Switch
  • PC

Platform/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • 4K HDR

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
Title: PONG Quest
Format: PSN (285.6 MB)
Release Date: May 29, 2020
Publisher: Atari
Developer: Chequered Ink
Original MSRP: $14.99 (USD)
ESRB Rating: E
A code for the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
The remake no one asked for is now available on PlayStation 4, and you know what? Maybe I didn’t ask for it, but if you’re going to remake one of the first video games in history, these guys didn’t do a half bad job making it accessible to modern gamers.

PONG is the game most of us know about but not everyone has played. It’s the game where two paddles (one on either side of the screen) bounce a ball back and forth until one player misses and gives a point to their opponent. Hell, even I’m young enough that my experience with Atari was well after PONG was a thing.

So how do you bring a game like PONG into 2020 and make it more than just the basic form of video tennis?

You add a Quest mode.

That’s right, character leveling, explorable dungeons, and loot have been added to PONG Quest, where the original gameplay serves as the combat mode to the campaign. As an unknown warrior, you are asked by the king to help him out with some unruly subjects who have taken some objects of…you know what, there’s a story here. It’s basic, but it’s also self-aware and even hilarious in some respects.

You explore the dungeons (with some rooms that I swear resemble old Atari games like Adventure) and fight random enemies. When the enemies spot you, they charge, and the game turns into traditional PONG. If you defeat your opponent, you are awarded with loot, money, and sometimes a key to open other rooms. You can also find random puzzles within the dungeons, such as match-2 type games.

The loot you find can help in combat. For example, I had an item that allowed me to curve the ball and throw off my opponent in battle. You can also use health potions, because you lose health when the enemy scores on you.

The only real issue I found with gameplay was using a joystick to control the paddle, when this game was designed to work with a wheel controller. Granted, at least the DualShock 4 has analog joysticks, so you could control the speed of your paddle as it ascends and descends. But for the actual precision of the original game, you need something more akin to those old paddle controllers. It surprised me to discover that the game didn’t support the DualShock 4’s touch pad. Seems like a wasted opportunity.

Visuals:
There’s your basic playscape of two bars and a ball. What’s added with the quest mode is unlockable wardrobe that adds color and personality to your bar.

Additionally, the quest mode has explorable areas that are simplistic and cute, matching the blocky world of PONG while still giving the game a visual flare.

Audio:
Playful music accompanies you on your quest, while sound effects are not too extreme, since the bulk of your action is bouncing a ball back and forth.

Online/Multiplayer:
Nothing too complex here. I couldn’t find a game online, but I did play a few local rounds. Gotta admit, it took me back to play such a simple game so many years later.

Conclusion:
It cannot be easy updating a historical game like PONG into the era of raytracing, open worlds, and massive online multiplayer experiences. I applaud the developers of PONG Quest for making a very old game enjoyable, by giving you some humorous purpose in between matches and updating the old gameplay itself with augments that add a twist to the most evergreen of game mechanics.

Score:

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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