Whether you are a old or young gamer I think most people have heard or the classic video game Pong in their life. The Atari classic where you have a paddle on the left and right side of the screen and just bounce a little ball back and forth for as long as you can. Fast forward to 2020 and Atari has now released a new version of Pong except this time it’s a dungeon crawler? Yes, yes it is.
Pong Quest wouldn’t be putting you on much of a quest if it didn’t have some sort of story to it now would it? The story here follows you the player who plays as a paddle and who is given the task from the king to retrieve four orbs from dungeons. The plot isn’t deep or anything but I did enjoy the bit of humor that was sprinkled about during it. Once you’re through the story introduction you’re off to venture through the dungeons in the game while battling foes and collecting that sweet, sweet loot. As you explore each floor of the dungeons you’ll encounter enemies, items, and friendly NPCs all on the way to the boss at the end. When you get into battle with an enemy this is where the Pong play comes into it.
Every battle plays out like a standard match of Pong except there are some slight changes here. The first is that both you and your enemy have a health bar and to win a battle you have to deplete your enemies bar before yours is. Each of your health bars deplete each time you hit the ball with your paddle with greater amounts of damage being dealt if you score the ball past them. This whole system just feels a bit unfair though as you are constantly worried about your health running out before theirs. The enemy will frequently have special balls that do more damage or have bigger health bars than you do making this even more of a problem. Those special kinds of balls are the other big change to the classic Pong gameplay. You can get these by earning the loot from defeating enemies or finding them in the dungeon but they are limited to being used a single time. Your opponent can use theirs more than once though which is yet another thing that comes off as unfair.
Every ball as its own special perks. Some can curve, some can cause a delay in your opponent’s response, some can half the play space and so on. When you defeat your opponents you’ll earn loot, such as the balls I spoke of, and money. You also level up over time and can earn perks that will raise your health, increase the amount of balls you can carry and so on. The rest of the game isn’t that interesting as the levels themselves are kind of barren and not interesting at all to move through. It’s also worth pointing out that you can avoid many of the enemies and due to how unfair the game can seem you may want to do just that and just focus on beating the boss at the end. The game also offers you the ability to customize your pong paddle with different outfits and colors that you buy or pick up. They are nice in that they help set you apart but they don’t really provide any kind of benefit and so I didn’t mess with the customization too much.
The game won’t last you very long probably as it only took me around three hours to finish it. Outside of the main mode there is the option to play the classic version of Pong with a friend locally or online. At the time of this review I wasn’t able to find anyone online to play with so how it holds up there I can’t speak about. The art style in the game is colorful and cute but also comes off looking a bit cheap. The music also repeats itself a lot. As for the trophy list the game has over 40 of them including a Platinum. There are a bunch of progressions ones, some tied to collecting all the items, some tied to winning so many battles and so on. Overall, I think it’s a pretty achievable completion.
Pong Quest adds an interesting dungeon crawling twist to the classic title but doesn’t do enough to make itself a must play. It only lasts a few hours at best and the design decisions around how your HP is handled makes the game feel unfair. I don’t think this is a bad game but at the current price point I’d recommend getting your Pong fix another way.
*Pong Quest is available now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC. Reviewed on a PS4 Pro. Review copy provided by the publisher for this review.