I was highly addicted to Tiny Death Star just a few months back and could easily play it for hours while waiting in airports or on long train rides. Ever since, I’ve been looking for a new addiction to fill the Vader shaped hole, and so jumped at the chance to test ride Pongu.
Pongu is a Pong based iOs game, which mixes up the old formula using a variety of obstacles, AI difficulty and multi-ball functions. The free version of Pongu comes with 4 boards including Pong classic, and the full version purchasable for $1.99 upgrades this to 8, including my 2 favourite boards: Flower and Segments.
You can choose to play up to 7 or 21 points, play indefinitely or play in endurance mode where both paddles work together to keep playing for as long as possible scoring less than 5 points. You can play with a friend, against the AI, which comes with 4 difficulty settings or left hand vs right hand, a mode which I enjoyed the most for the Zen like state it induces.
The graphics are pretty standard, but I just feel so much more could have been done. The neon lights seem to lend themselves to a Robot Unicorn Attack kind of kitsch, and yet the backgrounds all seem to be based on different coloured smoke. The music again is catchy and keeps you in the zone, if only for one round, after which you might want to turn it off. Unlike Erasure it’s not a soundtrack that lends itself to repetition.
The new features add a lot to this retro classic. Both ring, barrier, pinball and heart levels, release new balls as each smaller shape is battered and destroyed, the segments board releases balls periodically, and the flower level has 2 balls in play at all times. While the multi-ball function was more than welcome, boards such as pinball and shards, which work to trap and deflect balls seem to have you as more of a spectator than a player.
I played this on an iPhone 4S and found the small screen less than optimal. It might be better played on the new 6 or 6 plus though. Where the game came into its own however, was when I played it with a friend on my iPad 2. The bigger screen really helped to keep track of the many balls, and it didn’t feel so cluttered. Despite this, on both machines there were noticeable jumps in the game, which could lead to frustratingly lost points.
Overall, Pongu is a fun little game and a good way to burn time. It optimally would be played with iPad and a friend on a long bus journey. It’s not going to set the world alight, and I recommend downloading the free version before going out and purchasing the full one. But I do recommend giving it a go. It may not be your favourite time-waster but should definitely be added to the roster.
I received the full version of Pongu free, courtesy of the developers.