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An ode to Ultimate Pong


DZ-Jay
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I'm just recovering from a really bad case of the flu picked up during my recent trip to Puerto Rico (it was so nasty, I'm convinced it's some sort of bio-engineered experimental tropical super-bug, probably related to government and waffles). Anyway, I finally got a chance to hook-up my Intellivision Master Component and play a few games.

 

The first one I tried was Ultimate Pong.

 

I want to congratulate and praise Rev and his team for such a fantastic title. Ultimate Pong is a most sincere love-song to a very special classic game. The love for its subject can be felt throughout the entire product, including its packaging. From the nostalgia-fueled box artwork, to the included booklet entitled "A Brief History Of Pong," the entire experience sparks those very special memories of a time when the world was still getting acquainted with that new-fangled video game thing.

 

Recalling everything Rev has said about what he wanted the title to be, I will honestly affirm that he succeeded. The game is beautiful in its plain-jane simplicity. There are no fancy graphics, no storylines, no cut-scenes, no avatars or characters. There's not even much music, except the one tune and a few book-ending jingles. However, none of that matters, for it harks back to a time when none of those things existed in video games (and when video games barely existed at all). Ultimate Pong is just as it should be.

 

Along with the eponymous game there are several variations, none of them pretentious in attempting to upscale their original, and all of which would fit right at home in your old Sears Tele-Games machine back in 1976. My favourite of these is one called Battle Pong, which is part paddle game, part space shooter -- a perfect combination of Pong, Breakout, and Space War, mixed in equal measure. As sophisticated as it feels to play it, it still fits quite naturally with all the other paddle games, and even teases your mind into producing false memories of having played similar games in your youth.

 

All the games are well done and lots of fun to play. Even when playing against the computer (which most of us have to do nowadays), it never feels like the machine is cheating or playing in an excessively aggressive manner; nor does it seem dumbed down to let you win occasionally. I feel triumphant when I beat the CPU, and never feel frustrated when I lose to it. Perhaps it is because I don't play many games any more, but the game provides enough challenge for me and the CPU player seems to match my skill level rather closely. That's a testament to the careful direction provided by Rev during the testing phase.

 

Of course, at the end of the day, Ultimate Pong is still just Pong, but it is a very special version of it, intended to be the end-all-be-all, exemplary modern interpretation of a true classic that tends to get less respect than it really should. It is, in all sense of the word, the Ultimate version of Pong.

 

Bravo.

 

-dZ.

Edited by DZ-Jay
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The team that worked on this are the true ones to thank.

 

Thanks for the in depth review. I was wondering if people played it. :-)

 

Maybe one day I'll release the rom. ;-)

 

Side note. I had planned to include a real ping pong ball with ultimate pong logo on it. But the ball wouldn't fit in game box. Ha!

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Very nice review and description dZ.

 

You have me intrigued! This is a game I have overlooked to this point.

 

I already have paddle party and was thinking it is similar. But now I'll have to take a closer look!

 

You should definitely check it out. Paddle Party is good in what it tries to be: an upgraded version of Pong games. However, this one is precisely what it says on the tin, so don't expect anything more than Pong.

 

If Pong were served as food, Paddle Party would be a cool and trendy burger joint, where you take your friends once in a while when they're in town; while Ultimate Pong would be one of those retro-themed restaurants in a Disney park that immerse you with the experience, and where you just want to stay and take it all in. :)

 

Then again, it's just Pong. I like Pong, so there.

 

-dZ.

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Very nice review and description dZ.

 

You have me intrigued! This is a game I have overlooked to this point.

 

I already have paddle party and was thinking it is similar. But now I'll have to take a closer look!

 

Im sold out at the moment, but I think Naberhood games has it.

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Great review dZ! I had hoped to dig into this one more by now but it's on the short list as I've really enjoyed the brief amount of time I've been able to put into it. I played some of the basketball variant at PRGE and had lots of fun. One of the highlights of the show was watching kids play it and seeing their reactions to such a simple game.

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I'm still going through all the Ultimate Pong games (there are 15 of them!). Some are simple straight-up pong, others are surprisingly challenging. Basket (pong basketball) is one of the latter since you can move your paddle in 2 dimensions instead of the traditional 1 dimension.

 

The only hiccup I've run into was in Soccer where the game got stuck with the computer goalie continually hitting the ball into the upper right corner. Since it is the upper right, my own paddle could not get in between the goalie and the wall to interfere with the ball. I had to hit the reset button in that one case.

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Myself I'm waiting for my copy :grin: snail mail is soo slow, more for Mexico...

Maybe it's not that the mail is slow in Mexico; maybe it is that time in Mexico flows much faster than normal, so it needs to wait for the rest of the world to catch up. :o. You're a time traveler!

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