Hitting balls with paddles has been around since the beginning of gaming. Paddle Vs. Paddle is a new spin on the classics as it incorporates aspects of different retro games to form an intriguing take on the genre but is it any good?
Paddle Vs. Paddle is played by hitting a ball as you would in Breakout. In other words, you control a paddle at the bottom of the screen and try to intercept a ball that comes down the playfield. Unlike Breakout, there's a gravity aspect as balls travel in arcs across the field. You control your paddle by moving it in any direction and tilting it with a couple of the shoulder buttons. You can also give the playfield a little bump with the other two shoulder buttons whenever the ball could use a small boost. Anyway, it also incorporates a Pong-like dynamic in that you can't let the ball into your goal. While playing solo, it feels similar to a pinball game as there are outlanes where you can lose your ball as well. In essence, Paddle Vs. Paddle combines gameplay features from Breakout, Pong, and Pinball to create a simple formula that's easy to pick up and play.
Visually, Paddle Vs. Paddle is simplistic in its design which makes it easy to see what's going on at any given time. Aside from the odd camera pan or shake which helps to amplify the excitement during matches, there isn't much graphical variety. The colour palettes of the playfield swap after you start doing well but that's the only variety that you'll come across. The music and sound effects are equally repetitive as the silly arcade-style music starts to loop early on and the overly loud effects when you collect power-ups are a little jarring. Overall, the clean graphics work in the gameplay's favour although you'll crave more sights and sounds quite early on.
Paddle Vs. Paddle has three modes to enjoy: solo and multiplayer with either two or four players. No matter which mode you play, you'll collect plenty of power-ups that will more likely than not mess with your ability to play. For example, shrinking your paddle or putting up a wall which makes it harder to get the ball into your opponents' playfields. Then again, you may get multiball or a score multiplier if you're lucky. Moving on, multiplayer is where Paddle Vs. Paddle shines brightest. Playing against a friend or three can be a lot of fun as you smack the ball back and forth. That being said, there is almost no variety so the fun dies down after only a few minutes which makes it a decent game to play between other games and definitely not as the main event.
When it comes to playing by yourself, don't expect Paddle Vs. Paddle to include any sort of campaign. All it consists of is a simple mode where you try your best to get as high of a score as possible. Unfortunately, doing so primarily relies on luck. You'd think that you get points by how many times you successfully hit the ball but instead, you have to make the ball pass through sequential numbers that are randomly placed on the playfield. One time, I had the ball fly through about five numbers in one motion yet I found it very difficult to even hit the first number on many other attempts. The power-ups also factor in to luck. Once, I had a few multiballs in play at once as well as a score multiplier. However, other times weren't so successful as my paddle shrunk and gravity increased.
Although Paddle Vs. Paddle is a very bare-bones game and has a disappointing single player component, I must admit that the concept is solid for some enjoyable multiplayer matches. Hopefully, the developer will make an expanded version down the road.
- + Simple gameplay that's easy to learn
- + Clean visual presentation
- + Playing with friends can be fun for the short while that it lasts
- - Gameplay is only fun in short sessions
- - Graphics and sound have little variety
- - Playing solo is very bare-bones, repetitive, and far too luck-based