For decades, PONG has been delighting gamers with its simple competitive formula and now, it's grown up into a cool dungeon RPG.
Combining classic gameplay formulas with RPG adventures is always a clever experiment whether it's marrying Bejeweled with an epic journey in Puzzle Quest or mixing Othello with SRPG battles in Reversi Quest. Similarly, PONG Quest blends classic overhead Zelda-style dungeons, RPG elements, and a combat system that has you play PONG against enemies. Thankfully, this concoction works out very well as I found myself captivated with mastering each dungeon within the quirky world of PONG Quest.
Speaking of its game world, PONG Quest takes place in a silly lighthearted setting where a goofy king tasks you with retrieving 4 orbs in order to open The Spooky Door. Who knows what's behind that dreadful mysterious obstacle? Anyway, this sense of humour is carried throughout the adventure as you meet and battle plenty of humorous NPCs. You can also customize your character with different collectible skins, headwear, accessories, and suits which provides a solid sense of personality to your unlikely hero.
On the downside, PONG Quest's graphics are extremely basic and fairly uninspired. The best part about them is the character models which are simple PONG paddles that are all dressed up in little outfits. Besides that, the environments, battle screens, and dungeons are all underwhelmingly plain Jane. Thankfully, the jaunty music is great and the sound effects are spot-on.
PONG Quest's gameplay loop involves entering a dungeon then trying to master it. Each floor is full of enemies, treasures, and will likely contain a mini-game or 2 as well as an NPC who offers a quest such as "complete this floor without fighting any enemies" which grants a reward upon completion. As you play, you'll level up with gathered experience points and amass a collection of ball power-ups that you can deploy in combat to heal, erect barriers, or make the ball mess with your opponent. In battle, you and your foe lose a bit of HP with each ball hit and much more is lost whenever a competitor lets the ball touch their goal at the side of the playfield. This creates an enjoyable formula that forces you to try and score as much as you can so that you take as little damage as possible.
Although I enjoy the battle system a great deal, it can also be quite frustrating at times. For example, you usually get a good amount of restorative balls but sometimes, you may struggle keeping your HP at a survivable level which results in a lot of unnecessary stress. There are also moments when you take damage after the ball grazes your paddle then take more damage when it moves to your goal. You're telling me that if I stayed out of the way and let my foe score then I would've taken less damage? That's silly and annoying.
Anyway, the gameplay gets quite repetitive after a while because it's rather basic and simplistic at its core so it's the kind of game that's best enjoyed in short bursts. On the plus side, you can enjoy both local and online multiplayer with up to 4 players which is awesome. On top of that, there's an extensive collection system in place that you can try and fill out with character customization items, ball power-up types, stats, and such. This adds a rewarding layer of replay value that goes hand-in-hand with the dungeon exploration.
PONG Quest is a delightful game that masterfully combines retro gameplay with a dungeon crawling RPG formula. It may not have the most stylish visuals or long-lasting gameplay yet it remains a highly enjoyable and charming take on a timeless classic.
- + Enjoyable dungeon crawling gameplay with a cool PONG-based battle system
- + Fun humour and character customization
- + Solid replay value and multiplayer modes
- - Gameplay gets rather repetitive due to its overall simplicity
- - Visuals are too basic and uninspired
- - Occasional frustrating moments