When you load up a game entitled Hypergalactic Psychic Table Tennis 3000, you know you're in for a ride. It's so audacious, so unfitting to our world of quick takes on social media, that you have to respect it. Even if you end up hating the game, you're going to find something interesting within. Thankfully, I had exactly the opposite reaction to my time with what I'm going to be calling Table Tennis 3000 for most of this article. It's exactly the type of indie game Steam used to be filled with, a bizarre off the wall throwback that hurls surprises at the player at every opportunity.
What is Table Tennis 3000? At its most base level, it's Pong. A clone of Pong with numerous extras. Magic spells, RPG-style leveling, cosmetics, Table Tennis 3000 has all that and more. You start with a base black and white game of Pong and quickly gain more and more ridiculous additions. You learn how to move freely around the board, heal your HP after taking hits from the ball, and even master hazards like pools of lava and free-floating portals. It's Pong by way of Mario Tennis, and you'll have a hard time putting it down once you get into the groove.
Of course, this is still Pong, so the graphics aren't going to wow anyone, although they do change things up pretty frequently. Each opponent is unique, bringing different colors and strategies to combat. Some paddles pressure with tons of spells while others are just so big that they try to absorb damage. Whenever a paddle runs out of health, they burst Mega Man-style and leave an empty goal. When that happens and then you miss the return shot, you'll know the meaning of true defeat.
As you keep gaining abilities and watching the Russian nesting doll that is Table Tennis 3000 unfurl, you'll learn about the personalities of each opponent. The giant green foe isn't just named after Cthulhu, it's supposed to be a giant Lovecraftian horror. You can converse with it and everyone else, learning their strengths and weaknesses with varied dialogue options. You can even romance opponents, and collecting all the paddle partners seems to be a specific mission of some players in the Steam forums. It's always fun to have a goal.
As for me, I probably won't get to shag every rectangle in Table Tennis 3000, but my hours with the title did give me an appreciation for the unique way it expanded on such a simple concept. It's not just piling on mechanics and hoping they mesh, it's intricately crafting a progression for players to follow, making things more complex while never losing sight of what makes Pong enjoyable.
I did find some of the collision detection wonky, especially once you could move left and right. I felt like balls sometimes clipped through my character, giving my opponent an easy point. I also found it annoying to keep having to go back to the main menu after you die. Certain scenarios are going to almost guarantee death, especially for players who haven't unlocked all the intricacies of the gameplay as of yet. The game does offer up some choice death quotes, both verbal and via text, so I guess I can't complain too much.
Speaking of, Table Tennis 3000 gets a huge boost in presentation thanks to its voice acting. The developers hired Mark Meer, the actor behind Male Shepard in the Mass Effect franchise. Meer knows exactly what kind of game this is, chewing the scenery whenever possible. His deep voice yelling out "Fireball!" and the requisite Citadel joke was hugely amusing at first, even if the lines became repetitive eventually. The Duke Nukem quotes felt a bit more out of place, especially since they were merely straight references without any clever twist. Still, for a simple game like this, it's a net positive.
Hypergalactic Psychic Table Tennis 3000 Impressions | Final Thoughts
If you're looking for a game you can pick up and play for minutes or hours at a time, Hypergalactic Psychic Table Tennis 3000 is the perfect time-filler. Like Super Amazing Wagon Adventure before it, this is a low stakes retro throwback that has tons of depth hiding just beneath the surface. If you just play for a while, you'll have an enjoyable time with an old friend. If you play longer, you'll jump straight into an insane adventure that may capture your attention for longer than you intended. Pretty dang good for just another Pong clone.
TechRaptor covered Hypergalactic Psychic Table Tennis 3000 on PC via Steam with a copy provided by the developer.