Do you remember getting an Atari for Christmas when you were a kid and popping in Pong, leading to initial happiness and quickly turning to disappointment? Neither do I. That’s because I’m 31 years old and I got a Sega Genesis for Christmas that came with Sonic the Hedgehog, which only led to happiness. But I felt more like the Atari Christmas kid when I played the game Ping Redux.
Ping Redux is essentially a single player version of Pong with bright colors, obstacles, and the ability to aim and re-aim your trajectory in a 360 degree manner. You control a white box that is trying to get to the orange circle, while circumventing stationary and moving objects. The game limits you by capping the amount of times you can bounce against other objects. It also limits you by capping the amount of shots you can take, separate from the initial one. At the end of each level, you are scored based off of how many bounces and shots you took. The fewer bounces and shots, the higher the score.
However, there isn’t really a reward for precision in this game. You seem to complete more levels and get higher scores with dumb luck than with serious thought and exactness. And on console (PS4 Pro at least) the game doesn’t have very good optimization. There were numerous times where it couldn’t handle everything on screen, even though there wasn’t an overwhelming amount of activity on screen, and it would screech to a halt. Another bothersome aspect was the “boss” levels. After playing eight levels within an area building upon certain visuals and mechanics, it all gets thrown out the window for something that looks and plays like Space Invaders or Geometry Wars for one level.
The saving grace in this game is the music. Filled throughout with techno bliss, the soundtrack is provocative and gets the people going. Even a couple days after beating the game, the lyric “let’s have a little bit of fun now” and the driving bass were still stuck in my head. Unfortunately, the music isn’t enough to save this game. At least it’s more fun than frustrating. It’s sort of reminiscent of the bad parts of the early days of gaming rather than the good parts.