Back in 1972, newly formed games manufacturer Atari released a limited run of a certain table tennis game titled Pong, which had originally been developed by company newcomer Allan Alcorn as a training exercise influenced by a similar game shipped with the Magnavox Odyssey. While its technical splendour is hard to grasp while looking at today's hyperrealistic games, the success of Pong kickstarted not only the arcade boom but the modern video games industry as well.
While most game enthusiasts have moved on from the dawn of the arcade phenomenon and switched arcade and pinball cabinets out for current-generation hardware such as high-end gaming PCs and fancy consoles, there are still those who like to enjoy some nostalgia-inducing matches of retro games. If you're one of those people, you might like Blue Wizard Digital's Pong-reimagining Hypergalactic Psychic Table Tennis 3000 (title rolls off the tongue, truly).
This modern take on Pong offers players a classic template with some twists and while this may sound off-putting for those just wanting to enjoy the classic on PC, the twists don't alter the core experience of Pong enough to make it unrecognisable, for better and for worse.
Hypergalactic Psychic Table Tennis 3000 is a very simple game with a familiar pixel style. You control one paddle while the other paddle is controlled by an AI trying to destroy you in a best-of-three game of table tennis. The paddle can be moved up and down, and even sideways if the upgrade for this is chosen once you've leveled up. This is where the twist comes in. HPTT3000 is a Pong RPG, which gives you various upgrades and stat boosts and even though you do unlock some neat features that add to the game, none of the upgrades really alter the experience too much.
You have an HP bar to keep track of as you smash the square ball in the direction of your mortal enemy (paddle two, naturally) and when your HP is depleted, your paddle disappears, making the enemy paddle free to hit a winning shot. This applies to both sides and, if we're honest, this feature was our least favourite of them all. Apart from an HP bar and the unlockable ability to move around sideways, you can also unlock a swifter move-set, fireballs, and extra serve power.
The enemy paddles differ in terms of shape and size, and while we're told that the boss battles are "exhilarating", they all felt the same to us. There are however some comedic elements in the game, which is where it feels unique, such as paddle romancing, fun text prompts, and randomly generated maps, all of which add more playability to what's ultimately an extremely simple premise.
Essentially, Hypergalactic Psychic Table Tennis 3000 is Pong with a twist, so even though it's all good fun, those who are not retro enthusiasts wanting to revisit a video game relic of the long past with added fireballs and text sequences won't find much of interest here. However, if you are into classics like Pong and if you think Blue Wizard's take on it sounds interesting, you can try it out here for free and buy it on Steam for a relatively low price, if it's something you find yourself enjoying.
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