Saturday, November 8, 2014

Ping 1.5+ (Wii U eShop) Review

Not satisfied with just one new review this evening, I have another to share with you guys. It's a Wii U eShop game. (I'm noticing a pattern lately.) It comes from an independent developer. (I'm REALLY noticing a pattern lately.) It's Ping 1.5+, and here's my review on this colorful, retro wonder.

Off the wall bouncing ball fun


Retro gaming and indies go together like ping and pong. Whether it is to prey on the nostalgia of older gamers as a selling point or to pay homage to gaming's grand history, retro gaming is indeed a gameplay or visual style employed by many independent developers. Nami Tentou Mushi is one of these developers, and their arcade-style retro romp Ping 1.5+ not only delivers on simple arcade fun, but it's accessible to pretty much anyone who can learn how to bounce a ball against a wall. 

For its unwieldy title, Ping 1.5+ is pretty much a simple game to learn. In most levels of the game's 10+ worlds, you start with a white ball. The objective is to aim this ball and have it bounce off walls and other objects in order for it to reach the level's goal, an orange sphere. Sounds easy enough, no?

Vibrant, flashy, colorful cubes make up
the most of Ping 1.5+'s visuals.
Well, then, factor in this: You have to get the ball to the goal in a set number of bounces. Each level has a specific number of maximum bounces you can utilize, but there's also gold, silver, and bronze stars awarded to players who bounce the ball to the goal in as few bounces as possible. Some even require just one bounce. 

Additionally, some levels also contain the ability to slow down the ball in mid-motion and give it a push in another direction, altering the projected path of the ball. This is certainly necessary for later levels where there are spinning and otherwise mobile objects to contend with.

Two Triforces? Ganon must be
drooling right about now.
Outside of the general eight levels in a given world, there is a ninth one that serves as a boss level of sorts. These have you using a set number of bounces to destroy a giant yellow spherical spaceship, or have you avoid bombs as you try to obliterate 100 asteroids. These boss levels change the formula up well enough to keep Ping 1.5+ from feeling stagnant in its design. 

Ping 1.5+ is indeed a tough game, true to its retro feel and look. Levels down the line definitely will have you trying and then trying once again. However, your patience and persistence are rewarded. Later levels present obvious nods to other retro games, whether it be levels that resemble the castle that appears at the end of most levels in Super Mario Bros. or a jungle reminiscent of the Activision classic Pitfall. These are really cool levels that, while still challenging, make Ping 1.5+ feel more like an ode to retro gaming than it already does.

Sorry, but your princess is
bouncing along in another castle.
However, some parts of Ping 1.5+ are too retro, frustrating so, too. For instance, the automatic retry option when a level is failed is not the standard option available. If you want to manually restart a level, there's no option in the pause menu. No, you have to actually back out of the level and choose the one you wish to redo. This method isn't needed for the shorter levels where five bounces is a failure, but for boss levels, a convenient retry option would have been wonderful. It's somewhat baffling that it's not here in the game.

The presentation of Ping 1.5+ no doubt owes a lot to retro gaming and plenty of retro-style games like it. At the same token, the developers make this clear anyhow. What you see is what you get-- colorful cubes, simple, flashy visual effects, and an old school pixel shape to the fonts of the game. On the sound side, what you get is a catchy, infectious series of beeps and bloops that if you close your eyes, you might for a second think you're playing an NES game or old arcade cabinet game. While the visuals won't impress you cooler, hipper gamers out there, it's definitely serviceable and works well for what Ping 1.5+ is trying to emulate.

Ping 1.5+ is an affordable arcade-style puzzle game for the Wii U eShop that can really test your gamer skills. It's indeed the old cliche of being simple to learn and hard to master. With enough variety outside of the bouncing-a-ball-to-the-goal levels, Ping 1.5+ is an excellent nod to retro gaming sensibilities, and a game that might even be an engaging time to younger gamers out there as much as it is to us older folk.

[SPC Says: 7.25/10]

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